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Nobody likes to argue, and the best way to avoid disputes is to have a clear understanding of what our rights and obligations are under the custom home building contract. Good custom house builders should take the time to educate their clients about how the building process will go and what is included and not included in the agreed scope of works.
The client should ask whenever they have any uncertainty about any matter in the custom home building contract or during construction. There is no such a thing as a stupid question, and the custom home builder should be able to answer and explain in clear language.
I strongly suggest that all communication goes via emails, or when there is a verbal communication and an agreement is reached, that parties confirm the agreement via email. It may be as simple as: Dear Mr Smith, as per our conversation earlier today we agreed about xyz. Please confirm by replying to this email. Or the agreement could be more formal in the shape of variation forms detailing the scope and price of variation.
When a dispute arises between the client and the custom home builder, the matter can be referred to the Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria (DBDRV) by any party. This is a free service from the Victorian Government which assists parties to reach an agreement. Only if parties fail to reach an agreement in DBDRV can be the dispute referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Disputes between custom home builders and clients should be avoided whenever possible with clear and open communication. When an agreement can’t be reached and the matter ends up in court, there is, in the end, usually only one clear winner: the lawyers.