Understanding the NSW HIA Lump Sum Contract

When entering into a construction project in New South Wales, builders and homeowners often use a Lump Sum Contract, like the NSW Residential Building Contract for New Dwellings. This contract sets out the terms and conditions for the construction project, including the progress payment schedule. It is important for both builders and homeowners to understand the terms of the contract, particularly Clause 17, which relates to progress payments.

HIA Contracts, such as the NSW HIA Lump Sum Contract, are contracts created by the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and are commonly used in the Australian construction industry. These contracts are designed to provide a standardised framework for construction projects, making it easier for builders and homeowners to understand their rights and obligations.

It is essential for homeowners to understand the HIA contract and its provisions before signing it. This will help them ensure that the contract aligns with their expectations and needs, and avoid any potential disputes down the line.

Progress Payment Process

Under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW), progress payments for residential building work must comply with specific requirements, including those outlined in Clause 17 of the HIA Contract. It’s essential to understand the differences between a progress claim construction and a payment claim, as well as the progress claim process, which involves submitting a written request for payment.

Progress payments are typically calculated as a percentage of the total contract price and are outlined in the standard progress payment schedule NSW.

The final progress claim is crucial because it represents the last opportunity for the builder to request payment before the completion of the project. An example of a progress payment might include a percentage of the contract price following the completion of a specified stage of work.

Payment Schedules

In construction projects, payment schedules are essential to ensure that the contractor and subcontractor are paid in a timely manner. Under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 (NSW) also called the Security of Payment Act (NSW), a respondent to a payment claim must provide a payment schedule to the claimant within the time specified in the relevant construction contract or within ten business days after receiving the payment claim. 

The payment schedule must identify the payment claim and indicate the scheduled amount proposed to be paid. If the scheduled amount is less than the claimed amount, the schedule must include reasons for the difference, including any reasons for withholding payment.

Failure to provide a payment schedule within the specified timeframe may result in the respondent becoming liable to pay the full claimed amount on the due date for the progress payment. 

Therefore, it is important for contractors and subcontractors to understand the payment schedule requirements under the Security of Payment Act (NSW), and respond to payment schedules in a timely and accurate manner.

Security of Payment Progress Claim

The Security of Payment Act NSW provides a legal framework to ensure that progress payments are made promptly and fairly in the construction industry. A progress payment building contract is a contract under which a person undertakes to carry out construction work or supply related goods and services for another person. A progress payment claim can be served by a person who claims to be entitled to a progress payment, on the person who is or may be liable to make the payment under the construction contract.

The progress payment claim must identify the construction work or related goods and services, indicate the claimed amount, and state that it is made under the Act. The progress payment clause is an essential provision in the contract that outlines the payment terms and conditions.

To make a progress payment claim, the claimant must serve the payment claim within the contractually agreed period or within 12 months after the last construction work or related goods and services were supplied. The claimant may serve only one payment claim per named month, but they can include multiple progress payments or claim for work done in previous named months. A head contractor must provide a supporting statement to the principal when serving a payment claim.

Homeowners Legal Rights and Options

If a homeowner receives a progress payment claim under the NSW HIA Lump Sum contract and believes that the builder is not entitled to payment, the homeowner has several legal rights and options.

  1. If the builder has not specified that the claim is made under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 (NSW), the owner can simply dispute the claim with the builder, stating the reasons why they believe the builder is not entitled to payment. 
  2. However, if the claim is made under the Act, the owner must respond with a payment schedule within 10 business days of receiving the claim. The payment schedule must indicate the scheduled amount, which may be less than the claimed amount, and the reasons for withholding payment. Failure to provide a payment schedule within the required timeframe may result in the owner becoming liable to pay the full claimed amount to the builder.
  3. Seeking legal advice is crucial in this situation, and there are dispute resolution processes available, such as adjudication, mediation, or court proceedings, to resolve any payment disputes.

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How We Can Help

Homeowners should be aware of their legal rights and options when faced with a progress claim they believe is not entitled to payment. Seeking legal advice can help homeowners navigate the dispute resolution process and protect their interests. As a solicitor and construction lawyer with over 10 years of experience, I am dedicated to assisting homeowners in NSW with their construction law needs. If you require legal advice or representation regarding progress payments or any other construction law matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Let’s work together to ensure that your construction project runs smoothly and meets your expectations.