The Fine Print – Building Contracts
So you have just bought a vacant block of land in a new estate and are eagerly planning to construct your first home. Or maybe you have reached the stage in your life where you will finally be designing and building your dream home. Either way, you are now looking at a lengthy and perplexing building contract with a builder sitting opposite you encouraging you to quickly sign as “it’s a standard contract and nobody has had any issues in the past”.
Well, your first thought when dealing with any unfamiliar legal document should always be “first, let’s get my Solicitor to take a look”. But regardless of any professional involvement, there are always a few essential points to confirm before you sign in to any building contract.
First of all, make sure that EVERYTHING you want to accomplish is detailed in the Contract. The actual work being carried out should be unambiguous and anything that you have previously discussed with your builder should be incorporated from the very start. Don’t enter into an agreement with the mindset that x, y, and z will all be added later.
Next, you need to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the costs and time frames involved. When do you make your first payment? How often are payments made? Are all costs specified or simply left to be determined? Make sure that you know exactly what you are paying for with this contract -and just as important- what you are not paying for.
Knowing what is not included in your contract will help you ensure there are no unforseen variations which can quickly become quite expensive. For example, fly screens, door handles, and bathroom mirrors could all be easily left out of your initial Contract which could require pricey variations at the last minute.
Not only are the costs important, but so are the times allotted for the individual stages and the build as a whole. Remember, most builders will shut down over the Christmas and New Years holidays, so it is important to ensure that your Contract not only states a specific time frame for the commencement of the build, but for the completion of the build as well. Don’t take the builder’s word- put it in the Contract! You don’t want to be left without a home because of poor planning.
Of course, each contract has its own implications and effect on your particular circumstances. Don’t hesitate to give us a call on 07 5444 1022 to make certain that your building contract suits you personally and provides you the most protection possible.