Homeowners – The consequences of obtaining an Owner Builder Licence

In the case of Jason Field & Kim Field v Craig John Dettman, the Fields had obtained an owner builder licence for the construction of their home. It was agreed between Mr Dettman and the Fields that the Fields would perform their own roofing works whereas Mr Dettman would perform the carpentry works and project manage some of the trades and contractors.

Close to the completion of the home, the Fields had exhausted all of their resources and ordered that Mr Dettman cease working on their home. Subsequently, the Fields filed a claim with the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) arguing that Mr Dettman was in fact the builder of their home pursuant to an oral contract and therefore Mr Dettman was liable to them for the completion of their home and a reimbursement for all monies paid to Mr Dettman. With respect to Mr Dettman being liable to the Fields for the completion of their home, it was held that there was ample evidence to find that Mr Dettman was not the builder of the home. In particular, the Fields had secured the owner builder’s licence, Mr Field was actively engaged in the building of the home and Mr Field did not claim any remuneration from Mr Dettman for his contribution. Furthermore, the Fields had made direct payments to the contractors for the purchase of building materials for the construction of the home.

With respect to Mr Dettman being liable to the Fields for the reimbursement of all monies paid to him, the Fields hadargued that Mr Dettman only had a licence to complete works which were less than $12,000.00 and therefore any monies in excess of his licence, should be reimbursed to them. It was held that Mr Dettman’s licence imposes no restriction on the value of the work that he performs, but rather, it simply required Mr Dettman to have home warranty insurance for works in excess of $12,000.00. Accordingly, Mr Dettman was entitled to his payment pursuant to the equitable principal of quantum meruit and the Fields were unsuccessful in the claim.

This case demonstrates the importance of putting construction works contracts into writing and being vigilant with your expenditure whilst you hold the owner builder licence.

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This article is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. All articles found on this website are intended to provide informative information, nevertheless, in many instances legislation and case law has been simplified and/or paraphrased. If you would like personal legal advice based on your current circumstances, you should contact MurdockCheng Legal Practice for a free consultation.