How long do you have to bring a building work claim?

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EPA Act) and the Home Building Act 1999 (NSW) (HBA) both play a critical role in underpinning the design, construction and safety of buildings in NSW.

Being aware of which Act applies to you and the time period in which you can claim for loss and damages is paramount when dealing with building disputes.


There have been recent changes to the EPA Act that commenced on 1 March 2018. The majority of the changes were introduced on 1 March 2018, but there will be some changes that will need to undergo further consultation before being introduced.

A key provision that relates to building regulations will be in Part 6 of the updated EPA Act. Part 6 deals with the building and subdivision certification. A significant provision of Part 6 is the limitation period for the liability for defects to such work.

What is a building work?

Under the EPA Act, building work means any physical activity that is involved in the erection a building.

What is the current liability for defective building works?

Under clause 6.20 of the EPA Act (which was the previous S.109ZK) there is a 10 year limitation for any loss or damage that has arisen out of or in connection to defective works. The 10 year limitation commences after the date of completion on the works.

This means that there is a capped 10 year period after the completion of the works in which a building action can be brought against builders, architects, certifiers and other building professionals.

What is completion?

Completion of building works has been defined under the Act to be completed on:

  • The date that an occupation certificate was issued (whole or part of the building) or if an occupation certificate is not required, then the date on which a compliance certificate is used for the completed building works; or
  • If no certificates are issued, the date on which the building has been inspected by a certifier; or
  • If there is no certificate or inspection, the date on which the building in whole or in part was first occupied or used.

The same applies for sub-division works.

If you have any questions around your building works and whether they are within the limitation period, please do not hesitate to contact Morrissey Law & Advisory.

Disclaimer: This publication by Morrissey Law & Advisory is for general information and commentary only and should not be considered or relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in relation to any matters or transactions that may arise in relation with communication.