At NSW Fair Trading we know that sometimes home building project do not always go to plan. You may face a situation where you don’t agree with your builder or tradesperson and may need help to resolve a dispute. 

As part of a comprehensive review of the building laws of NSW, we are proposing to establish a new dispute resolution framework to make NSW Fair Trade more hands-on in helping you to resolve your dispute through earlier involvement in the process.  

In this video we will take you through the different ways you can resolve a dispute with your builder or tradesperson under the proposed laws.  

Building or renovating your home is a big decision and things can go wrong at different stages.  

You may face a situation where your work has not started  


Your work is only partly completed  


The work done has a defect.  

In case of any dispute, we recommend you discuss the problem with your builder or tradesperson through clear and respectful communication before involving Fair Trading or the Courts.  

If you are unable to come to an agreeable solution, you can approach Fair Trading to help resolve your dispute.  

At Fair Trading we can:  

  • Facilitate discussions to help the parties to work out an agreeable solution. This is a quick and cost-effective method to help resolve disputes early without damaging the working relationship between the parties.  
  • Fair trading inspectors can visit your site and issue appropriate orders. Depending on the situation, Fair Trading inspectors can issue orders requiring a builder or tradesperson fix building work or comply with the terms of contract through a compliance notice, or for serious defects, such as structural matters or issues with fire safety systems, a building work rectification order. Both of these orders are intended to ensure that the building work and buildings comply with the required standards. 
  • In addition to these, we are proposing to introduce Home Building Work Directions which would allow Fair Trading to issue an order to the builder to refund your money. The proposed power will allow our team of compliance officers to issue orders for a claim involving failure to provide building goods or services paid for by you. After assessing your complaint, we may direct your builder or tradesperson to: 
    • Carry out repairs  
    • Replace the defective goods or services or  
    • Refund your money. The refund can be:   
      • Either the money paid by you for the goods or services, or 
      • If you can provide evidence for any additional expenses incurred on the goods or services, an amount for the additional expenses.

        For example, if the cost of the goods was $5000 but you had to spend an additional $200 on having someone look at the faulty goods to try to get them repaired, you may be eligible for a $5200 refund provided you are able to submit sufficient evidence for the additional $200 being spent.  

These orders and directions are enforceable at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and can impact your builder or tradesperson’s licence eligibility if they fail to comply.  

Fair trading is committed to resolving disputes quickly and cost-effectively, with a focus on supporting both parties through the process.  

Therefore, under the proposed framework, all consumers must approach Fair Trading in the first instance rather than attempting to first resolve the dispute through the Tribunal or courts. If the tools at our disposal are inappropriate or if your dispute is too complex , our officers will issue a certificate allowing you to file your dispute before the Tribunal.

This will mean you will not be able to approach the NCAT directly and must come to Fair Trading first.  

We are hoping that the proposed changes will help home building disputes to be resolved faster, more efficiently and cost effectively. We are interested in hearing your feedback on the proposed dispute resolution framework.  

We encourage you to read Part 3 of the Building Bill Regulatory Impact Statement for further details on our proposal and share your thoughts via the Have Your Say website. Submissions close on 25 November.     

Thank you!