Here we endeavour to give clarity around, “Who is responsible for rectifying items that have been found defective in a new property?” and, “What time frame is in place for these items to be fixed?”


Contractors will be liable to repair damage caused to the property in the course of completing their building work. They will also be liable to repair any consequential damage caused by, or as a consequence of carrying out building work on a residential building site or to a residential building on an adjacent site.  Some common examples given by the QBCC include:

  • A contractor will have to replace untreated pine in an external deck that was installed by the contractor instead of the durable timber required for this structure.
  • A contractor will have to repair an existing window in a house that the contractor accidentally damaged when constructing another part of the house.
  • A contractor will have to provide a remedy or repair an adjoining residential building suffering from subsidence caused by the lack of shoring or an effective ground retention system on a deep excavation constructed along the property boundary.

Contractors do not have to rectify damage caused by the owner’s actions or inactions or those of other people engaged by the owner.

  • A contractor will not have to repaint a poorly painted wall that was painted by the building owner.
  • A contractor will not have to repair a distorted gutter when the damage was caused by an owner placing a ladder against the gutter.
  • A contractor will not have to repair a storm water drain that was properly constructed and later blocked by tree roots.

Time Frames

Two time periods are relevant when identifying applicable standards and tolerances to identify defective work:

  • NON-STRUCTURAL BUILDING WORK – 12 months from date of completion of the work;
  • STRUCTURAL BUILDING WORK – 6 years and 6 months from date of completion of the work.

The date of completion is the day when the work carried out under the contract is completed in accordance with the terms of that contract, or the day the building owner is given the statutory permit or certificate that authorises the occupation of the building. Alternatively, a definition may be given in the contract associated with the building work.

As a new home owner, being proactive is key and asking questions if you are unclear may avoid disappointment down the track. Ensure you keep all documentation of defects including reports, photographs and communicate these with the builder.  Take your responsibilities seriously, maintain your property and be aware of keeping within the time frames outlined above to make this process a positive one.