Inadequate Designs & Specifications – What do you do?

Imagine this scenario – you are in the middle of completing a home building contract and you discover that something in the architect‟s plans is not quite right – perhaps they neglected to specify an essential component in the plans, or perhaps the plans would not adhere to the Building Code of Australia („the Code‟). What do you do? Should you proceed to build based on the plans and specifications? Should you alter the plans and specifications to comply with the Code?

In this scenario, the best course of action is for you to:

  1. Notify the architect that the plans are inadequate and/or not compliant with the relevant laws;
  2. Notify the home owners that:
    1. you do not recommend for them to instruct you to proceed with the building works based on the plans and specifications; and
    2. you require further plans and specifications from the architect.

Notwithstanding the above, sometimes it is easier said than done and accordingly, we outline some relevant and very recent Consumer, Trader and Tenancy decisions:

  •  if there is an omission, an error, or a lack of guidance in the plans, you should report same in writing to the owner and architect and await their guidance before proceeding;
  • if a builder proceeds to remedy gaps in the plans and specification without instructions from the owner and/or architect, the builder can be held liable for rectification costs if the remedy is defective; and
  •  a builder has a contractual and statutory obligation to build in accordance with the plans and specifications AND the building works must comply with the Home Building Act or any other law such as the Code;


  •  Do not proceed to build if there is a gap in the plans and specifications;
  •  Do not proceed to build if you are aware that the plans and specifications do not comply with the relevant codes of practice;
  •  Get everything in writing as you are required to do so pursuant to the Home Building Act 1989 (Cth) and the contract.

If you have any questions in relation to this article or our Building and Construction Law Corporate Retainer, please feel free to contact me at 0422 730 999 or dmurdock@mclp.com.au.

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