Construction Law Dispute

On 01 November 2018, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (‘QBCC Act’) was amended to impose further obligations on engineers and architects to encourage safe construction practices. The amendments place engineers and architects directly in the chain of responsibility for building products and with obligations to avoid a construction law dispute.

What do the changes mean for you as a builder or home owner?

As a builder or home owner, the changes ensure that engineers and architects are held accountable for products they specify to be used during construction. In particular, an obligation is placed upon them to ensure (as far as reasonably practicable) that the specified building product;

  • Is safe;
  • complies with the relevant regulatory provisions;
  • is suitable for its intended use;
  • is capable of performing at the standard it was represented to perform at.

For the purposes of the QBCC Act, a specified building product includes any material used or which could reasonably be used in the construction of the building.

What this means for you as an engineer or architect?

To comply with your obligations, when supplying your design to a client, you must accompany it with the requisite information about the specified building product. This includes its instructions and information about its suitability and intended use. Any deviation from this could potentially lead to a construction law dispute.

Your obligations to ensure the product is suitable and safe for the intended use doesn’t end once you have supplied your design. If a building product you recommend is subject to a recall, including in another State, you must either inform each person the design was provided to and specify an alternative building product to be used, or amend the design to remove the product at your own expense.

Implications

If you don’t comply with these requirements, you may face disciplinary action or prosecution depending on the level of risk posed by the product. The failure to comply with the Chain of Responsibility duties carries a maximum fine of $130,350, including for permitting a representation to be made that a product is or will be compliant with the relevant regulatory provisions.

If you are an architect or engineer and subsequently become aware or suspect the building product you recommended is a non-conforming product for its intended use, you must notify the QBCC as soon as reasonably practicable, but in any event, within two days. The notification can be lodged online using the ‘NCBP – Notification of NCBP (Person in Chain of Responsibility)’ form on the QBCC website.

If you are a home owner or person who is not in the chain of responsibility and suspect or are concerned that a non-conforming building product has been used during construction, you may lodge a complaint on the QBCC website using the ‘NCBP General Complaint’ form.

Contact Becker Watt Lawyers on 07 3269 4888 or email us at info@beckerwatt.com.au