Building complaints and disputes
Get defective or incomplete work fixed or paid out
This page has information about how to ask for corrections to building work that has not been finished or properly constructed, or for money to be paid to you as the owner.
Before making any of the formal applications outlined on this page, you should talk to NT Consumer Affairs to see if they can help resolve your dispute informally.
They can advise you on your options if you believe a consumer guarantee has not been fulfilled in relation to building work.
Go to the Consumer Affairs website for their contact details.
For work covered by a fidelity fund certificate, you can apply to the Commissioner of Residential Building Disputes, see below.
For work that is not covered by a certificate, you can make a claim with a court. Before filing any dispute in a court, consider getting legal advice.
Apply to the Commissioner of Residential Building Disputes
You can apply to the Commissioner of Residential Building Disputes to order for work to be fixed, or for money to be paid to you.
The Commissioner can't consider allegations of delay or claims the owner has not paid the builder.
The Commissioner can't order the return of a progress payment.
Read more about when you must have a fidelity fund certificate.
Before you apply
You must have a fidelity fund certificate to make an application to the Commissioner.
The dispute must be between an owner and a building contractor.
You must be able to show that the contract for the building work has ceased, or one of the parties considers the contractual obligations fulfilled, or the relationship between the parties has broken down.
If the application is in relation to incomplete work, you must apply within 90 days of when the builder stops work.
If the application is for defective work, you must apply within the effective period for the building work, which is six years for structural defects and one year for non-structural defects.
How to apply
To apply fill in the commissioner decision form.
Submit the form and the application fee of 100 revenue units to the Commissioner of Residential Building Disputes.
Find out more about revenue units.
Make a claim with a court
If you are an owner who wants to get a builder to rectify or pay money for defective or incomplete residential building work for which you do not have a fidelity fund certificate, you can make a claim with a court.
The courts can do any of the following:
- hear evidence from experts
- hear and determine contractual matters relating to payments and breaches of contract - for instance if work has not been carried out in a proper and workmanlike manner or in accordance with the Australian Consumer Law
- issue an enforceable order for the payment of money
- issue an enforceable order to do or refrain from doing something.
The courts can't do any of the following:
- consider consumer guarantee disputes
- consider professional conduct issues
- take professional disciplinary action such as suspend or cancel a builder’s licence.
Read about how to complain about professional misconduct or a breach of building law.
Before you apply
Before filing any dispute in a court, consider getting legal advice.
Which court you should contact
The value of your dispute will determine which of the following courts has jurisdiction over the claim.
Small claims jurisdiction of the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT)
This court can decide actions for amounts up to $25,000.
This court can decide actions for amounts between $25,001 and $250,000.
This court can decide actions for amounts over $250,000
How to apply
Read more about how to apply to different types of courts and their roles.
Last updated: 08 July 2019
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