ACT News

Insurer forced to cover failings of collapsed Canberra builder

An insurer has been told it must pay to fix some of the defective work on a Canberra home left by a collapsed building company.

Suman Das and Kakoly Dutta owned land in Franklin, and had building company 4th Dimension erect a home on the Oodgeroo Avenue property in 2009.

The work was finished in 2010 and the pair signed a certificate of occupancy and use.

But the landowners soon issued the builder with notices to fix 25 defects.

The problems included cracked paving in the patio and a bedroom wall, poor paint work on doors, no handrail on the internal staircase, incorrect wiring on phone and data points, poor plumbing and sewerage draining, missing rendered walls at the front, and warped and stained timber flooring, caused by leaks in the kitchen and ensuite.

The builder fixed some of the problems later that year, but the pair were forced to lodge complaints with the Office of Fair Trading and the Master Builders Association for others.


Those complaints did not result in the  remaining defects being fixed, nor did a final notice sent to 4th Dimension.

In November 2011, the builder went into administration.

That prompted the pair to make a claim to the Master Builders Fidelity Fund, which issues warranty insurance certificates to builders to provide consumer protection for homeowners.

The fund conceded it was liable for some of 4th Dimension's defects, but denied other parts of their claim, saying some items of work being demanded were not required by the building code of Australia or the approved plans. 

The owners made an application to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to force the fund to undertake the work or pay compensation.

That included completing the work the builder had failed to do, and rectifying what the pair said was defective work completed by the contractors the fund brought in earlier.

The tribunal published its judgment on Tuesday, ordering the fund to complete some of the work.

That included erecting a canopy over the balcony, rendering walls at the front, building a step-out feature wall, and fixing and replacing a toilet flush button. 

But the tribunal said the fund was not liable for other items that were not on the approved plan, including a television recess, a downpipe from the balcony, colorbond cladding, and fixing its earlier efforts to put a textured coating on the outside walls.