Building Disputes (Tas)

In Tasmania, when a person has a dispute with a builder they can seek assistance from (or complain to) the Consumer Building and Occupational Services (CBOS). Decisions by CBOS may be appealed to the court or complained about to the Tasmanian Ombudsman. This page deals with building disputes in Tasmania.  

Legislation and guides for building disputes

Building work in Tasmania is regulated by the following legislation:

  • Residential Building Work Contracts and Dispute Resolution Act 2016
  • Building Act 2016
  • Building Regulations 2016

The National Construction Code 2022 also applies in all states and territories.

The Residential Building Consumer Guide must also be provided by all building contractors before a contract is signed. The Guide to Standards and Tolerances also provides a reference for acceptable standards of workmanship.

Talk to the other party

A party that is unhappy with a building in Tasmania should first try to resolve the situation by talking or writing directly to the other party. If the situation cannot be resolved directly, a complaint can be made to CBOS.

Work completion claims

An owner may serve a work completion claim on a building contractor if they believe that residential building work required to be completed under a contract was not completed within the required period or within a reasonable period.

A work completion claim must be served within 12 months of the date the work was required to be completed. A person who has served a work completion claim may apply for the matter to be adjudicated by CBOS.

If CBOS accepts an adjudication application, it may arrange to inspect the work and prepare an inspection report. An expert panel will then determine the application. This may result in the expert panel issuing a work completion order, refusing to do so, or issuing a declaration that the work has been satisfactorily completed.

A work completion order may require:

  • The satisfactory completion of the work
  • The rectification of defective work
  • The correction of any damage caused by the work
  • The respondent take, or refrain from taking, so that another person may complete the work
  • A party to pay a sum of money to another party
  • A party to pay the costs of ensuring that the work is completed

Statutory warranties

Under the Residential Building Work Contracts and Dispute Resolution Act, there are a number of statutory warranties that form part of any contract for residential building work. This includes renovations, alternations, extensions, repairs and new houses.

These warranties include:

  • that the materials supplied for use will be good, new (unless otherwise stated) and suitable for purpose;
  • that the work will be performed in accordance with the law;
  • that the work will be performed in an appropriate and skilful way and with reasonable care and skill;
  • if plans and specifications form part of the contract, that the work will be performed in accordance with the plans and specifications;
  • if the work consists of the construction of a residential building, that the building will be suitable for occupation;
  • if the work contract provides for a provisional sum or a prime cost item, that the sum or item has been calculated with reasonable care and skill having regard to all the information reasonably available at the time.

Breach of statutory warranties

If any of the statutory warranties included in the Act are breached, proceedings can be commenced within six years of the date the work was completed. These proceedings are initiated by complaining to CBOS, which may refer the matter for mediation or adjudication.

A complaint can be made to CBOS about the following types of matters:

  • Services not completed with care or skill
  • Service not fit for purpose
  • Services that took too long
  • Cancelling a contract for services
  • Services that caused damage to property

CBOS may address non-compliant behaviour through voluntary compliance, directed compliance or compulsory compliance. The type of action taken will depend on the type of breach complained of and what legislation it falls under.

CBOS prioritises matters that affect public safety.

Appealing against decisions on building disputes

A party that is unhappy with a decision of CBOS may lodge an appeal in accordance with the information provided with the decision. A party who is unhappy with the way a decision was made or the way a complaint was handled by CBOS may complain to the Tasmanian Ombudsman.

If you require legal information or advice 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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