NCAT Process for Homeowners

The NCAT process for homeowners involves several stages, which may include mediation, conciliation, case conferences, or hearings. The goal of NCAT is to facilitate the just, quick, and cheap resolution of the real issues in the proceedings. The steps involved in the NCAT process include:

Making an application

To make an application to NCAT, you will need to provide information about the dispute, including the parties involved, the nature of the dispute, and the relief sought. You may be required to pay a fee to lodge your application.

Pre-hearing directions

Once your application has been accepted, NCAT will issue directions that outline the steps you need to take to prepare for the hearing. This may include gathering evidence, filing documents, or attending a case conference.

The hearing

At the hearing, the Tribunal Member will ask questions about the application, and both parties will show their evidence and ask questions of each other. The Tribunal Member may ask that evidence be sworn or affirmed.

The decision: After considering the evidence presented at the hearing, the Tribunal Member will issue a decision and may make orders that are binding on the parties.

Guiding Principles of NCAT

The guiding principles of NCAT are to facilitate the just, quick, and cheap resolution of the real issues in the proceedings

This means that NCAT aims to provide an accessible and efficient means of resolving disputes, without the need for expensive legal representation or complex procedures. 

To achieve these principles, NCAT may use a range of processes, including mediation, conciliation, case conferences, or hearings.

NCAT Rules for Homeowners

The NCAT rules apply to all proceedings in the Tribunal and govern how cases are heard and resolved. Some of the key rules that apply to homeowners include:

Rules of evidence

NCAT decides cases on the evidence presented at the hearing. Homeowners will need to provide evidence to prove their case and to respond to any issues raised by the other party. The rules of evidence in NCAT are less formal than in a court of law, but parties must still follow certain procedures and requirements.

Orders NCAT can make

NCAT can make a range of orders, including an order that money owed does not have to be paid, an order for goods or services to be provided, an order to fix or replace faulty goods, or an order for a refund and the goods to be returned.


Each party to the proceedings in NCAT is responsible for their own costs, unless the Tribunal awards costs in relation to proceedings if it is satisfied that there are special circumstances warranting an award for costs.


The NCAT Appeal Panel can hear appeals from NCAT decisions, and judicial review may also be available in certain circumstances.

Importance of Gathering Evidence and Organising Documents

In an NCAT hearing, evidence is crucial to proving your case and responding to any issues raised by the other party. 

Homeowners should gather all documents and other things that they will rely on in the hearing and organise them in a folder for easy access. It is important to bring copies of the evidence to give to the other party and to NCAT.

Some types of evidence that homeowners may need to provide include:

  1. Written contracts, invoices, or other documents that show the terms of the agreement between the parties
  2. Photographs or videos that demonstrate the condition of the property or the work that was done
  3. Correspondence, such as emails or letters, that show the communication between the parties.
  4. Reports or statements from experts, such as builders or engineers, that support your case.

Time Limits for Making a Claim

It is important to be aware of the time limits for making a claim with NCAT. The time limits vary depending on the nature of the dispute and the type of claim. For example:

  1. For a home building dispute, you must first refer the dispute to NSW Fair Trading before you can make an application to NCAT. Time limits apply to certain home building applications, such as breaches of statutory warranties or supply of building goods or services. You must apply to NCAT within 6 years for major defects or 2 years for other breaches.
  2. For a retail lease dispute, you must make an application to NCAT within 3 months of the dispute arising.
  3. For a strata or community scheme dispute, you must make an application to NCAT within 2 years of the dispute arising.

Appeals Process

If you are not satisfied with the decision of the Tribunal, you may be able to appeal to the NCAT Appeal Panel. To appeal a decision, you will need to complete and lodge an appeal form with NCAT within 28 days of the decision being made or 14 days for building claims. The appeal process involves a review of the evidence and the decision of the Tribunal. The Appeal Panel may affirm, vary, or set aside the decision of the Tribunal and may make any orders that it considers appropriate.

How to Apply to NCAT for a Home Building Dispute

If you have a home building dispute, you can apply to NCAT for a resolution under the Home Building Act 1989. The process for applying to NCAT for a home building dispute involves several steps, including:

  1. Referring the dispute to NSW Fair Trading
  2. Lodging an application with NCAT, including information about the dispute and any orders or rectification orders issued by NSW Fair Trading
  3. Paying any fees that apply
  4. Attending the directions hearing and preparing for the hearing
  5. Presenting evidence at the hearing and receiving a decision from the Tribunal.

Organisations That Can Help

NCAT cannot provide legal advice to parties to a dispute. However, there are several organisations that can provide help or advice about your case. These include:

  1. NSW Fair Trading: NSW Fair Trading can provide information and assistance to parties involved in a home building dispute, including information about making a complaint and the dispute resolution process.
  2. LawAccess NSW: LawAccess NSW provides free legal information and advice to people in NSW, including information about NCAT procedures and rules.
  3. Contracts Specialist Solicitors and Attorneys: Our construction lawyers can provide legal advice and representation to parties involved in a dispute.


In conclusion, understanding the procedures and rules of NCAT is essential for homeowners who want to lodge an application with the Tribunal. Homeowners should be aware of the NCAT process, the guiding principles of NCAT, the rules that apply to their case, and the importance of gathering evidence and organising documents. Homeowners should also be aware of the time limits for making a claim and the appeals process. By following these guidelines and seeking advice from relevant organisations, homeowners can navigate the NCAT process and achieve a just, quick, and cheap resolution of their dispute.