Building disputes

If you are building or renovating your home, you may need help if something goes wrong or you would like to make a complaint.

Legal Aid WA does not give advice in this area, but we can refer to you someone who does.

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 if possible. Keep a copy of the letter and the signed receipt showing it was delivered. Learn more about what to put in a letter of demand.

What if attempts to resolve the dispute do not work?

You may have to go to:

  • the Building Commissioner (Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Building and Energy division)
  • the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), if the claim is referred on by the Building Commissioner
  • the Magistrates Court for claims up to $75,000, if the claim is not dealt with by the Building Commissioner or the SAT, or
  • the District Court for claims up to $750,000.

Get legal advice on your situation.

What help with resolving building disputes is available?

Building and Energy through the Building Commissioner provides a way for both consumers and builders to resolve disputes relating to the carrying out of regulated building services and home building work contracts. It has a range of services to help with managing disputes and complaints as an alternative to starting court proceedings. 

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 SAT.  Get legal advice about whether you can have the decision reviewed and how to apply to the SAT.

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 for applications for review in the SAT, and for starting a claim in the Magistrates Court or the District Court.

Get help

Legal Aid WA does not give advice in this area, but we can refer to you someone who may be able to help.

More information


Reviewed: 28 September 2022


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.