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Building disputes

Building disputes

I have a dispute with a builder. What can I do?

If you have a building dispute you could:

  • contact the builder and try to come to an agreement
  • send a letter of demand asking for what you want to resolve the dispute.

The letter of demand should be sent by registered mail and the signed postal receipt kept as well as a copy of the letter. You may want to indicate the letter is without prejudice.

For more information on what to put in a letter of demand see under heading What should I put in a letter of demand? at Collecting a debt-first steps.

What if attempts to resolve the dispute do not work?

You may have to go to:

  • the Building Commissioner, or if the Commissioner cannot deal with it, it can be referred to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)
  • the Magistrates Court if the claim is under $75,000 and it is a claim that the Building Commissioner, or SAT cannot deal with 
  • the District Court for claims up to $750,000.

Get legal advice on your situation.

What is the Building Commission ?

The Building Commission, a division of the Department of Commerce WA is the body legally set up to deal with building disputes and complaints as well as other building related matters. It has a range of services to help with managing disputes and complaints. It oversees the regulation of building, painting, building surveying and plumbing services.

Who can make a complaint?

For information on who can make a complaint, the forms needed, and time limits visit the Department of Commerce-Building Commission division website.

Disputes about payment under contracts for building and construction work may be able to be resolved under the rapid adjudication process provided for in the Constructions Contracts Act 2004 (WA). For more information on this visit the Department of Commerce - Building Commission division website. A Building complaint resolution guide: A guide for consumers is available to download at this website.

Do time limits apply?

Yes. There are time limits are lodging disputes with the Building Commissioner. In general, a complaint cannot be considered more than six years after completion of the work. Time limits also apply in the Magistrates Court and the District Court. Get legal advice.

What happens after I lodge my complaint?

For information on the resolution process visit the Department of Commerce - Building Commission division website.

What if I disagree with a decision or an order made by the Building Commissioner?

Most decisions and orders made by the Building Commissioner can be reviewed by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

Time limits apply. Get legal advice about whether the order or decision you disagree with is one that can be reviewed.

Where can I get more information?

  • Contact the Department of Commerce Building Commission division on 1300 489 099 or  (08) 6251 1900  or visit at Level 1, Mason Bird Building, 303 Sevenoaks Street, Cannington or visit its website. It has a sample Notice of Proposed complaint, a guide for consumers on complaint dispute resolution.
  • Contact the State Administrative Tribunal for information on review of Building Commissioner decisions.
  • For information on fence building disputes see Dividing fences and other boundary issues.


Last reviewed: 20/11/2015

Last modified:


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.