Building Disputes (Qld)

In Queensland, building disputes are dealt with by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). These disputes may also be dealt with by the courts. This page deals with building disputes in Queensland.


Building disputes in Queensland are regulated by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009.

Complaining to QBCC

If there is a dispute about building work in Queensland, a party may seek dispute resolution from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. This may be because the work is defective, the work is incomplete, there is a design fault or because the complainant’s property has been damaged by property work carried out on a neighboring property.

Before initiating this process, a party must give 14 days written notice to the other party. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily, a complaint can be initiated online. The QBCC resolution officer will then make contact with both parties and try to resolve the dispute.

If the complaint is about defective work and a specialist building inspector determines that the work is defective, they must issue a Direction to Rectify. If this is not complied with, the QBSS can initiate disciplinary action. Building work may be defective because it does not comply with the Building Act 1975, the Building Code of Australia, or an applicable Australian Standard or because it uses a product that was used, constructed or installed in a way that does not comply with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Applying to QCAT

Before a party can make an application to QCAT in relation to a residential or commercial building dispute, the QBCC dispute resolution process must have been attempted. If a complainant disagrees with a QBCC decision, or if dispute resolution is unsuccessful, the party may apply to QCAT.

If an application is made to QCAT, the respondent may respond or file a counter-claim within 14 days. If no response is filed, the applicant may seek a default decision (a decision based on the papers filed without holding a hearing).

If the matter is urgent, an interim order can be sought.

An application can be made for:

  • a domestic building dispute
  • defective work/incomplete work schedule
  • an interim order

The application can be made online, by email, or by post.

QCAT procedures

After QCAT receives an application, it may make directions as to how the matter is going to proceed. This may include requiring parties to file evidence and submissions, making orders about legal representation, non-publication and other matters, and setting dates for proceedings.  

If a party does not comply with orders, the tribunal may make cost orders against them, dismiss the application, or order the matter to progress to a hearing.

Decisions by QCAT

When QCAT decides a building dispute, it may make any of the following orders:

  • An order for the payment of an amount owed by one party to the other
  • An award of damages and interest on the damages
  • An order for restitution
  • An order for relief from payment of an amount by one party to another
  • Make a declaration that misleading, deceptive or unjust contract terms are of no effect
  • An order for rectification or completion of defective work
  • An order for costs

Jurisdictional limits

QCAT has no jurisdictional limit for domestic building disputes.

The jurisdictional limit for commercial building disputes is $50,000. However, the tribunal may decide a dispute involving more than $50,000 if both parties agree.  

A dispute involving more than $50,000 where parties do not consent to the jurisdiction of QCAT must be dealt with by a court.  

A civil dispute involving up to $150,000 may be dealt with by the Magistrates Court. A civil dispute involving between $150,000 and $750,000 may be dealt with by the District Court. The Supreme Court deals with civil disputes involving more than $750,000.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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