Building and Construction – Latent defects and issuing variations

Building and Construction – Latent defects and issuing variations



When can a builder legitimately issue variations dealing with ‘latent defects’ and when are variations illegitimately issued resulting in a builder charging outside of their quote?


There is nothing worse than relying on a quote as security you will not spend outside of your budget for your big building project only to have your builder issue a huge variation based on an apparent latent defect. This may be well outside of your construction contract and also your budget.

On the other hand, there is nothing worse than carefully crafting a quote for a fussy client or a client with a tight and inflexible budget only to find further significant works are required which will not fit within the parameters of that quote because of a latent defect.

Master Builder Contracts

For the most part, the building contract, properly crafted will provide for what happens in the event of a latent defect being discovered. A Master Builder Contract (or QBCC contract) should always be used and if in doubt, you should seek advice on construction law from one of our experienced lawyers.

What is a latent defect?

A latent defect is a defect or problem which will require further works which cannot reasonably be found to be required at the time of inspection.

What is a variation?

A variation is issued by a builder when an alternative design is proposed (outside of the original building contract and quote). The variation will typically include the further costs of the altered works.

How is a variation issued?

The legislation is very specific as to how variations can be issued. If they are not correctly issued, there may not be opportunities for the owner/client to avoid paying the builder for extra works that have been carried out.

Aitken Whyte Lawyers can assist you in avoiding a dispute about a latent defect – vs – an appropriately issued variation by providing you with advice on the contract as well as issuing variations appropriately.

When disputes arise, Aitken Whyte Lawyers can assist in providing advice and advocating for a builder or owner during any dispute such as a dispute as alterations of the contract/quote. Obtaining legal advice before taking any steps which effect the legal relationship between builder and owner is highly recommended. However when this doesn’t occur, Aitken Whyte Lawyers can assist you with any disputes in QCAT or in any court.

Office Location and Contact Details


Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane
2/414 Upper Roma Street
Brisbane QLD 4000

Ph: 07 3229 4459
Fax: +617 3211 9311


07 3229 4459 Email

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