Strategies to avoid disputes
- Nip things in the bud. If you have concerns raise them as early as possible. If you think something isn’t right contact the cabinet maker right away and clearly and politely raise your concerns. If there isn’t a problem your cabinet maker will be able to explain what is happening and if something is wrong it can be rectified early in the piece, rather than later when corrective action may be far more difficult and far more expensive.
- Behave reasonably and politely. Quite often what appears to be a major problem can be easily fixed, however getting emotional will seldom bring good results.
- Don’t involve third parties at this stage, raise your issues and give the cabinet maker reasonable opportunity to address them.
What to do (or not to do) if a dispute occurs
- Raise your concerns verbally with the cabinet maker and ask that they come to discuss them with you onsite. Once again, keep calm, be reasonable in your comments and keep your comments in line with the matter at hand.
- If you are unhappy with the response or if there is no response, then document your concerns and provide the cabinet maker with a letter outlining your concerns and asking him/her to respond, in writing, within a reasonable period.
- Make sure you keep a detailed record of the steps you have taken to resolve the issue, including all phone calls, meetings, emails etc.
- Give the cabinet maker reasonable time to look at the problem and come up with a response.
- At this stage if the matter hasn’t been resolved you have the option of taking legal action or lodging a complaint with the Building Commission. It is important to note that the Building Commission will only address the issues you have identified. Experience has shown that where a lay person identifies problems with a job it is quite likely that other problems exist also.
- You must provide the cabinet maker with written advice of your intention to lodge a complaint with the Building Commission and give the cabinet maker a minimum of 14 days to formally respond. Your correspondence must; detail the remedy you propose to seek; and detail the evidence on which you propose to rely, this can include a report on the work from the CMA or other professional organisation.
- If the matter remains unresolved after the 14 day period has elapsed, you can proceed to lodgement of the complaint with the Building Commission. The complaint must be lodged on the appropriate form, available from the Building Commission office or by downloading from its website http://www.buildingcommission.wa.gov.au More information on the Building Commission’s dispute resolution process is available at http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-commission/building-service-and-home-building-work-contract-complaints