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  • Writer's pictureHoward Ryan

War Stories: Baulkham Hills, 1984

Excerpt Chapter from "What My Builder Didn't Tell Me"

Building a house

This was a project also referred to us and the client was my first son’s kindergarten teacher.


The project was to be an addition consisting of a timber floor on brick piers, a weatherboard cladded, timber framed and a pitched into the existing structure concrete tiled roof.


We were to build a new entry foyer, split level living room, kitchen, two bedrooms with built-in robes and a bathroom with a separate toilet.


The client wanted an Architect to be involved so they provided the designs and proposed working drawings.


The client engaged their own Architect, contracted and paid them directly to which this designing was not part of our building contract requirements, as per the way these clients wanted it to be.


All the planning was eventually approved by Council and the Water Board and the project commenced.


We reached the stage of frame, roof and lock up in the agreed time frame.

As far as we knew we had followed the plans that the Architect had drawn up and what was approved.


The Council had visited the site and approved ALL the required stages of construction, up to this current lock up stage.


It was now brought to my attention by the client; “the internal stairs are in the wrong position”. Mind you, it has been built this way for over 2 months and it was clear for all to see, even me.


I then approached the client, with the approved and signed plans and the building application to show them what we built from.


I showed the client the area of conjecture on the plans by looking at “Section AA” where the Architect had drawn and showed the stairs within the living room from the new entry foyer.


However, the “Plan View” showed the steps within the entry and not in the living room, hmm!


Who is wrong here, you ask?


I immediately contacted the owner’s Architect and had him come to the site to speak with the client so an explanation and a conclusion could be reached.


There was a conclusion all right,


Such conclusion consisted of the Architect stating, “It was a pencil error and the builder should correct it”.




Yep, you guessed it, being the builder, I was lumbered with the rectification works and the costs associated with such rectification.


I was not going to accept that fact.


I went to a Lawyer who advised me the Council should never have approved the plans due to there being errors within the design.


“The client engaged the Architect” the Lawyer stated.


In the meantime, the client terminated my contract and I had no idea what that meant.

I had never experienced being sacked from a job, let alone a self-employed one.


The Lawyer explained to me the client is also at fault and not to worry. I trusted what the Lawyer was stating. The matter went to court some 18 months after the fact.


After sitting in the courtroom for two days, I lost because the Magistrate stated, “You as a prudent builder should not have started the project till the plans design was rectified!”


Another one of my life lessons!


My son, then changed schools!


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