A member asked over 8 years ago

Architect misleading

We engaged an architect to design our house renovation within our budget of $225k (as set out in the contract). However, after receiving the designs and engaging builders we can't find a builder to complete the project for under $400k, with one builder quoting $450k. We can't afford the renos and need to sell the house and buy a bigger house further from the CBD. The whole process with the architect has cost nearly $10k plus another $4k still to pay.

Do I need to pay the remaining $4k as per the contract? Do I have a case to claim our money back from the architect?

Law Advisor Research Team
Researchers at LawAdvisor

Hi there. It sounds like you have been having a difficult time. A disparity of almost $200,000 is indeed a larger than would be expected between the promise the architect made and the quote you have been given by the builder.

As with all transactions when goods are bought or services provided, a contract will determine the perimeters and details of the agreement. A contract is the place that a court or tribunal will look to determine whether the architect has adequately performed their obligations to you. If you do not have a written contract, that does not mean a contract did not exist between you. You may have an oral contract instead. If this is the case, you will have to gather all the correspondence you had between you and the architect to show the terms to which you agreed.

You must look to the terms of the contract to determine whether you have a claim against the architect. If the contract stated that the architect was obliged to provide you a design which could be made for $225,000 and has failed to do so, you may have a basis to require the architect to either redesign the extension or not pay the full price under the contract. However, if the contract contained a term which stated that the architect was under no obligation to ensure a builder could build the design for a certain price, than you may not. It will all depend on the terms of the contract.

After looking at the contract, if you believe you have a claim against the architect you should consider bringing a claim in the Civil Claims List at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT is a tribunal, not a court, which means it is informal and oriented toward mutually beneficial compromise and settlement. Another benefit of going to VCAT to solve your dispute is that parties bare their own costs. This means that if you loose you action, you will not have to reimburse the architect for their costs. In addition, legal representation is not mandatory at VCAT.

Suggested way forward

If you are unsure on how to proceed or need more guidance, we recommend you contact a lawyer with expertise in this building and architectural disputes. You can do this by “posting a job” through LawAdvisor. This function will enable you to find a lawyer in your area with the expertise you need.

Answered over 8 years ago   Legal disclaimer


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