It is an exciting time knowing that your new home is nearly ready to handover. But when the big handover date approaches, many home owners are caught unaware of how it all works. We’ve created a simple guide to ensure that you understand exactly what you are doing…

What is Handover?
A home reaches practical completion or is ready for handover when all the building work has been done and you are able to move in, i.e it is reasonably suitable for habitation. Some minor defects and minor omissions are acceptable. You will find a full definition of practical completion in your contract under general conditions. Make sure you read this before handover day and making your final payment.

Before Handover
Your builder should tell you 2 to 3 weeks in advance of when they expect to do the handover. If you care about the quality of your new home, you should arrange a professional inspection of the home to ensure that all of the defects are identified. Every new home has defects, it is just a matter of finding them and issuing a report to the builder for rectification.

Dealing With Defects
Your inspector will issue you with a report containing a list of defects to be rectified by the builder. It is best that you agree with the builder to have these items rectified before the actual handover day.

You may find in some instances, that you and the builder can’t agree on whether some items are defects. However, if a defects report from your inspector is prepared in accordance with the QBCC standards and tolerances guide, the builder will have no choice but to comply. If they refuse to fix anything, you are within your rights to lodge a complaint to the QBCC about the defective building work.

On Handover Day
Make sure you get copies of any outstanding documents such as:

  • the practical completion certificate (for a new home)                    
  • certificates of inspection (e.g. slab, frame, waterproofing)
  • product warranties for appliances
  • reports, notices or other documentation issued by services providers (e.g. electricity, gas, telephone, water or sewerage). Note: If you have any problems with appliances after handover, contact the product supplier not your contractor.

The Final Payment
You can pay the last installment when all contracted work is complete. The work must be in accordance with all relevant laws, legal requirements, and with the plans and specifications.

Some contracts require the builder to provide all certificates of inspection (including the ‘final’ certificate) before receiving final payment.

What if I find defects after handover?
If you notice any defects after handover that have not been identified previously, you should request in writing that the builder fixes the defect. For non-structural defects you generally have 6 or 12 months (depending on the contract) from when the work was completed. If you find a structural defect, you have 6 years and 3 months from practical completion to lodge a complaint.