Understanding Contract Variations

Variations are a standard part of construction projects, and understanding how they work within the MBA Contract (BC4) can help homeowners confidently navigate these changes. By adhering to the contract’s guidelines and maintaining clear communication, variations can be handled smoothly, keeping your dream home project on track.

What Are Contract Variations?

Contract variations are alterations to the original terms of a contract after it has been agreed upon and signed. These changes can encompass anything from design modifications to materials or work quality adjustments in construction. Whether initiated by the homeowner or the builder, variations must be in writing and signed by both parties.

Variations in MBA Contract (BC4)

Clause 14 of the Master Builders Association Head Contract Residential Building (BC4) for NSW, outlines the various scenarios that may lead to variations, such as additional work, decreases or omissions from the works, changes in materials, or alterations due to latent conditions. It also stipulates the process for establishing, consenting, and documenting variations. The contract ensures that the builder and homeowner are both aware of the changes and their financial implications. Adhering to these guidelines is essential for maintaining transparency and avoiding potential disputes during the construction process.

How to Deal with Variations

Dealing with variations in the MBA Contract (BC4) requires clear communication and adherence to specific guidelines. Here’s a quick guide for homeowners:

  • Clear Communication: Discuss potential changes openly with your builder.
  • Written Agreements: Document all variations in writing, in accordance with Clause 14 of the contract.
  • Understand Costs: Consider the financial implications, including additions or deductions from the contract price.
  • Understand Timelines: Consider the implication of variations to the building period, including potential delays.
  • Seek Professional Advice if Needed: Consult a construction lawyer if unsure.

By following these steps, homeowners can ensure that variations are handled smoothly, keeping the construction project on track.

Quantum Meruit Claims in NSW

Quantum meruit claims represent a nuanced area of construction law. Understanding the principles, recent case law, and practical steps to handle such claims can empower homeowners to navigate these legal complexities confidently. Whether building a new home or renovating an existing one, being aware of quantum meruit and its interaction with contract variations is essential for a successful construction project.

What Is Quantum Meruit?

Quantum meruit is a Latin term meaning “as much as is deserved.” In legal contexts, it refers to a claim for reasonable payment for services rendered outside the scope of a contract. This principle often applies when a builder performs additional work not initially agreed upon. The claim allows the builder to seek compensation for this extra work, provided specific conditions are met. Understanding quantum meruit is essential for homeowners, as it can impact a construction project’s overall cost and legal obligations under the MBA Contract (BC4) in NSW.

Quantum Meruit in Construction Contracts

In construction contracts, quantum meruit claims arise when a builder performs work outside the original contract’s scope without a formal agreement. Case laws outline the specific conditions that must be met for a successful claim:

  1. The work must be outside the contract;
  2. The homeowner knew the variation as it was executed;
  3. The homeowner knew that it was outside the contract;
  4. The homeowner knew that the builder expected payment for such work as variation to the contract; and
  5. The amount claimed for such work is fair value. 

Quantum meruit claims highlight the importance of clear communication and written agreements for variations, helping homeowners and builders navigate additional work and avoid potential legal complexities.

How to Make a Quantum Meruit Claim

Making a quantum meruit claim in NSW, particularly under the MBA Contract (BC4), requires careful adherence to legal principles:

  1. Identify the Extra Work: Clearly outline the work performed outside the contract’s scope.
  2. Provide Evidence: Gather evidence that the homeowner knew: (a) about the work, as it was executed, (b) it was outside the contract, and (c) that the builder expected payment.
  3. Determine Fair Value: Calculate a reasonable cost for the work, supported by invoices or other documentation.
  4. Seek Legal Assistance: Consult a construction lawyer, if needed.

Understanding these steps helps homeowners and builders navigate the complexities of quantum meruit claims.

Paying for Additional Work under MBA Contract (BC4) What Homeowners Need to Know


Understanding quantum meruit claims and contract variations under the Master Builders Association Head Contract Residential Building (BC4) for NSW is crucial for homeowners building their dream homes. These legal concepts can impact the construction process, costs, and relationships between homeowners and builders. As a solicitor and construction lawyer with over 10 years of experience specialising in construction law, I’m here to help. I have advised and represented homeowners, builders, and contractors in NSW, Australia, on these complex matters. If you need assistance with your contract rights, risks, obligations, or any other construction law concerns, contact me today. Let’s build your dream home together, with confidence and clarity.