domestic building consumer guide
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What are Variations?

Variations are changes made to the plans and specifications, including, but not limited to alterations to design, materials, quantities, quality of work, scope and sequence of work.

You can find what you need to know about Variations in Clause 23 of your Building Contract for New Homes. It lays out the procedure for making a Variations request, and how to approve of variations.

consumer affairs Victoria variations clause
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If you are unsure of whether your Builder’s proposed Variations are reasonable, or if you are on the fence about agreeing to the changes, it may be a good idea to consult a specialist construction lawyer.

A building and construction lawyer who has extensive experience in the practice of Construction Law can advise you on how to manage risks to the quality and cost of the build – those being directly affected by the Variations.

variation affects contract price
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Who may ask for Variations?

The Owner (the person commissioning the building work/ the home owner) and the Builder/Contractor may ask for the building works to be varied, provided that they follow the procedure laid out in Clause 23, and that they both agree in writing to the same.
variation of plans and specifications clause
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When Variations become a problem

Variations affect cost, quality, and time of completion, hence, they may escalate into dispute.

Specifically, disputes may arise from:

  • Valuing the variation
  • The question of whether the works constitute a variation at all
  • Variations unilaterally made by the builder, which the owner may not have agreed to because of cost or other reasons

Resolving Variations disputes

The way to settle a dispute resulting from Variations may be found in Clause 34 of your contract.
Dispute Resolution Procedure Clause
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1. The first step is for the parties to meet and try to settle the dispute informally, amongst themselves.

2. If the issue is not resolved amicably, either party may make an application to the
DBDRV (Domestic Building Dispute Resolution Victoria).

3. If the dispute remains unresolved at the DBDRV, either party may apply at the VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal).

4. Finally, if the matter remains unresolved at the VCAT, or if either party is unsatisfied with the decision of the VCAT, they may bring the matter to court.

How we can help

Construction Lawyer Melbourne reviews your Building Contract for New Homes, and advises you on how to administer your contract so as to minimise risks associated with disputes arising from Variations. Furthermore, if you are in the middle of a domestic building dispute, Construction Lawyer Melbourne can help you prepare the required paperwork, and provide legal advice and representation.