From today, if a subcontractor carries out defective work they must rectify it or face disciplinary action by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (“QBCC”)  including having their licence suspended or cancelled.

This follows the release of the ‘Accountability for Subcontractor Defects Policy’ by the QBCC. A  copy of the new policy can be found on the QBCC’s website by clicking here.

This marks a shift in the approach taken by the QBCC. Previously, while subcontractors could be  directed to rectify defective work the QBCC’s (and the QBSA before it) approach has previously been  to take up the problem with the builders and principal contractor responsible for the rectification  of any defective work.

Under the new policy where a complaint is made to the QBCC and a subcontractor is found to be responsible for the defects then:

  • If the subcontractor agrees to rectify the defective work the QBCC will ensure that the work is rectified; or
  • If the subcontractor doesn’t agree to rectify the work the QBCC can issue the subcontractor a  Direction to Rectify to (as well as the principal contractor) requiring subcontractors to return  and rectify the defects; and
  • If the subcontractor fails to comply with the Direction: 
    • the Commission may take disciplinary action (which can lead to suspension or cancellation of  the subcontractors licence); and
    • the principal contractor will be required to either rectify the defect themselves or engage  another subcontractor to do that work. It would then be up to the principal contrctor to try to recoup that cost.

This development has been heralded as a significant change in the building and construction industry. Exactly what difference it will make however might be questioned. In our  many years of experience as lawyers in the building and construction industry we have rarely (if ever) seen a principal contractor or builder not immediately insist that a subcontractor rectifies defective work as soon as the defective work  is identified. Legally of course, it makes no difference as a subcontractor who does defective work  has always been legally responsible to fix it.

Remember that anyone doing a search of a QBCC licence will identify any directions to rectify that have been issued and not complied with – so it is important to act quickly if you’re in a situation  where a complaint has been made to the QBCC about defective work.