With the ever expanding backlog of complaints being issued to the QBCC, the statutory time limits for building defect complaints are becoming narrower by the day.
As a result, bodies corporate should be assessing schemes for building defects much earlier than previously advised.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) is a statutory body established under the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (QBCC Act) to regulate the building industry.
As part of this regulation, QBCC oversees building defect matters for both residential and commercial properties.
Building defects are building work that is faulty or below a reasonable standard of quality. Building defects can be split into two categories – structural and non-structural.
Bodies corporate and lot owners can lodge complaints to QBCC for building defects, which shall involve QBCC assessing the complaint and investigating the building defects.
If QBCC determines a building defect exists, it can issue the builder with a direction to rectify, which will require the builder to carry out the required repairs. If the direction to rectify is not complied with it can lead to the imposition of fines and cancellation of the builder’s licence.
There are two key time limits that apply to structural building defect complaints:
- The time for the complaint to be lodged; and
- The time for the direction to rectify to be issued.
Complaints must be lodged to QBCC within 12 months of the body corporate becoming aware of the building defect.
The time at which the body corporate first becomes aware of a defect will vary from defect to defect, but will commonly be the date on which a lot owner or caretaker reports the defect, or the date on which a building defects report is obtained identifying the defect.
Issuing of direction to rectify
Section 72A of the QBCC Act states that a direction to rectify cannot be issued after more than 6 years and 6 months of the building work being completed.
This timeframe is a strict limit that is placed on QBCC, that can only be waived by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in particular (and limited) circumstances.
In previous years, bodies corporate could assess when a complaint to QBCC should be lodged based on this 6 year 6 month time frame, as the period between when a complaint was lodged and a direction to rectify made was relatively short.
However, in the past 12 months, QBCC’s waitlist for assessing and deciding on building defect complaints has blown out.
Complaints are now taking up to 4 months just to be allocated a case manager, and up to 8 months for a QBCC inspector to attend the scheme to inspect the defects. Our firm has a number of complaints with QBCC that were lodged over 12 months ago and we are still waiting for a direction to rectify.
As a result, we now recommend that bodies corporate ensure there is at least 1 year remaining on this limitation period when issuing the complaints. This is to ensure there is enough time for the complaint to be assessed and directions issued before the time limits expire.
Practically, this means keeping an eye out for building defects, and when the scheme is nearing 4.5 years in age, assessing the scheme for defects to ensure there is sufficient time to:
- identify the defects;
- obtain a defects report (if required); and
- lodging a complaint to QBCC
before the scheme turns 5.5 years in age.
Please contact our dedicated body corporate team if you need any assistance with building defects. We can assist the committee in proactively identifying and addressing building defects and lodge any required QBCC complaints.