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.

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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.