Building & Construction Lawyers Sydney

Our Sydney building and construction lawyers and industry experts with many years of experience handling residential, commercial and industrial, providing general construction legal advice and handling building disputes.  Our clients include builders, home owners, property developers, contractors, engineers and body corporates.  We have a proven track record, over 75% of our building and construction disputes are settled without the need for litigation.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

Major Project Experience

Brander Smith McKnight have provided legal advice to the construction industry over many years.  In addition to  small and medium sized construction projects, we have worked on infrastructure projects with values of over $1 billion.  Our lawyers have provided legal advice, contract drafting and dispute resolution on major projects such as a rail line to a mine in Queensland for Xstrata Coal, runway extensions at Sydney Airport Corporation; Enfield Terminal redevelopment for Sydney Ports Corporation; rail constructions and civil works for Barclay Mowlem (acquired by Laing O’Rourke).

We have the experience, dedication and knowledge to provide expert legal advice at a considerable saving compared to large city firms.

The Contract 

We have extensive experience in every stage of the building process.  Many disputes in construction occur because of issues with contract drafting and administration.  Our aim is to help you prevent future disputes by meticulous, collaborative and authoritative advice, drafting and administration.

Pre-Contract Negotiations

The highly experienced lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight Lawyers will aggressively negotiate to ensure the removal of any unreasonable risks in the contract.  We will  ensure that you have adequate control over the building process, that the schedule of payments reflect the progress of works and that there are no unexpected price variations.

Contract Drafting

Our lawyers are renowned as industry experts and will deliver on the 3 key elements of quality, expediency and value for money.  Factors that often need to be addressed in contract drafting are risk and responsibility allocation, provision for instructions and variations, provisions for quality and inspection, liabilities and insurance, delay and extension of time, payment and potential disputes.  The issue of risk and responsibility allocation can be handle in several ways including design and construct, construction management, collaborative or traditional approaches.  The highly experienced building and construction lawyers at BSM can clearly advise on the relative merits and reflect this in the drafting of the contracts.

There are multiple standard forms such as those produced by Housing Industry Association (HIA) and Australian Standards (AS).  Our Sydney lawyers are familiar with these standard forms and can provide you with clear advice and relevant amendments.  We can clearly explain the legal terms and repercussions to you and negotiate with the other parties and their legal representatives.

Review of Contracts

Brander Smith McKnight lawyers will independently review your contract, no matter where it was drafted.  Changes and additions can be inserted anytime prior to the signing of contracts.  We can negotiate with the other party to ensure necessary amendments are made.  These necessary amendments may include the timing of progress payments, the inclusion of liquidated damages, control of the building schedule and approval of all variations.  We will identify and alert  you of any unusual clauses in the contract that may cause problems and additional expense for you in the future.

Administration Advice

Once the contract has been drafted, amended, agreed to by all parties and executed, it will need to be well administered.  The building and construction lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight lawyers can provide you with advice in the administration of a contract.  Issues that may arise include variations, delays, extension of time, payment claims, requests for information, insurance matters, corporate and director disputes and defective works.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

Our Experience

The building and construction lawyers at BSM have over 40 combined years of experience and have worked extensively at all levels of construction.

Residential Buildings

The legal requirements and regulations pertaining to this area of construction are found in the Home Building Act 1989.  We act for builders and home owners throughout Sydney providing clear and efficient advice on your rights and obligations.  We can advise on issues such as the definition of a defect, is it a major or minor defect, has there been a breach of the Home Building Act and is there a defence under this act.

Multi-dwelling Buildings

A relevant and recently introduced act pertinent to this area of construction is the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020.  We have acted for builders, developers and home owners throughout Sydney and NSW.  We can provide advice on planning requirements, council approvals, building practitioner registration, payment claims, payment schedules, design contracts, construction contracts and building disputes.

Commercial and Infrastructure

This includes office blocks, roads, railways, pipelines and bridges.  The Security of Payment Act is relevant to this area and applies to payment claims, payment schedules and adjudications to ensure the prompt payment of contractors and subcontractors.  We have acted for principals, contractors and sub-contractors.  Brander Smith McKnight lawyers have worked for privately funded finance projects in excess of 1 billion dollars.  These include drafting contracts and acting for Sydney Ports Corporation during negotiations for port redevelopment in Botany Bay and for Sydney Airport Corporation during the process of runway safety redevelopment.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

Dispute Resolution

Unfortunately disputes are reasonably common in the building and construction industry.  They include disputes in relation to defective building work, variations, delays and payment.  The lawyers at BSM take great pride in their ability to resolve at least 75% of disputes without the need for costly litigation.  We have years of experience in the building and construction industry and are able to advise you of your rights and options and fiercely advocate for you.  We recognise that there are many different ways of resolving disputes and we work hard to find practical and commercially advantageous solution.  We can advise and act for you across all forms of dispute resolution including in mediation conference, expert determination and arbitration.  Our lawyers will clearly present and argue your case effectively.  We can also issue legal demands such as Letter of Demand, Notice to Comply or make ‘without prejudice’ offers on your behalf.

Litigation

If alternative dispute resolution and mediation fails to resolve your dispute Brander Smith McKnight lawyers are able to litigate for you.  Our building and construction lawyers have extensive experience and are able to run most litigation matters independently saving you the cost of engaging a barrister.  We regularly appear in the Consumer, NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal NCAT and Local and District Courts.  If required, for instance in the Supreme Court, we have a panel of barristers that we can call on to help represent you.  Our lawyers take pride in both the meticulous and considered preparation for court and their ability to effectively and persuasively advocate for your rights whilst representing you in court.

Debt Recovery

SOPA

The Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act provides builders, contractors, architects, engineers and surveyors with a process for recovering payment for their work.  Although rapid and cost effective, it has specific time constraints and detailed requirements which must be followed.  The building and construction lawyers at BSM are very familiar with SOPA and are able to advise and represent you through this process including preparing payment claims, payment schedules and adjudication applications and defences.  We can also enforce adjudications and judgements handed down by adjudicators and the court.

There have been two recent amendments in 2021 to SOPA.  In March 2021, the act was amended to provide that SOPA applied to home building where the builder contracted directly with the home owner.  Previously, SOPA applied when the builder contracted with the developer or parties other than the home owner.  In June 2021 a further amendment was made that legislates all construction contracts over the value of $20,000 must include a SOPA guide.

Other Legal Processes

The other legal avenues for debt recovery are Letter of Demand, Statement of Claim and litigation.  The first and least expensive step is a Letter of Demand which is sent to the debtor and details the amount of the debt and under what circumstances the debt became due and payable.  It details when payment must occur and explains that if this does not occur there will be further legal action.  We can prepare this letter within a few days and it often results in recovery of your debt.

If payment is not received, we can issue a Statement of Claim.  A Statement of Claim is a document that initiates legal proceedings, describes the course of action, the nature and often the amount of the claim.  This document is filed with court and subsequently served on the defendant.  This obliges the defendant to file a defence within 28 days and often results in the defendant making a payment or entering into negotiations to avoid litigation.

The next step in debt recovery is litigation.  Our experienced lawyers regularly run legal proceedings in NCAT, Local Courts and District Courts.  They will advocate fiercely and effectively for you and get the possible outcome.  If your matter proceeds to the Supreme Court, we can instruct one of the barristers that we regularly work with.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

FAQs

chevronDo I need a lawyer to review my contract?

The simple answer is yes.  Building contracts include many complicated legal issues and terms.  Building and construction usually involve large amounts of money and any errors or omissions can have significant consequences on the timing and completion and quality and cost of your building project.

chevronWhat is a variation?

Any party to the contract can trigger a variation.  A variation means a change in the work to be completed and usually involves an increase in the price and an extension of the time to complete the project.  It is important that your contract includes a proper process for requesting and approving variations.

chevronWhat is a time delay?

A time delay means that the contractor has fallen behind the building schedule.  A builder who is delayed may request an extension of time to the building schedule.  It is important that every building contract includes a process for the notification of delays and for approvals for extension of time.  Our lawyers are highly experienced in this area and can advise builders, contractors and owners in relation to the proper drafting of contracts and the administration and management of delays and extension of time.

chevronWhat is SOPA?

SOPA is an act which was introduced in 1999 aimed at alleviating the problem of delayed or non-payment for work in the building industry.  The full name is the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act.  It provides builders, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, surveyors and designers with a process for recovering payment for their work.  Although rapid and cost effective, it has specific time constraints and detailed requirements which must be followed. Our lawyers are very familiar with SOPA and are able to advise and represent you through this process including preparing payment claims, payment schedules and adjudication applications and defences.  We are also experts in the enforcement of adjudications and judgments.

chevronWhat is a Letter of Demand?

A letter of demand is a legal document stating your legal rights in relation to an unpaid debt.  It must be addressed to the debtor and state that it is a letter of demand.  It gives details of the amount of the debt and under what circumstances the debt became due and payable.  It details when payment must occur and advises that unless payment is made by this date, there will be further legal proceedings.

Your Building & Construction Legal Sydney Team

Mark Smith

Principal

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William Onishi

Senior Associate

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Sam Bailey

Senior Associate

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Rania Kassir

Senior Lawyer

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Kyle BSM Lawyer Sydney NSW

Kyle Dmoch

Lawyer

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Curtis Newbitt-Hill

Law Graduate

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