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  3. Residential Construction Law

Residential Construction Law (LAWS70329)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70329
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Every year, about half of the value of construction activity in Australia relates to the building, conversion and renovation of dwellings. The law relating to this activity is complex and multi-layered, involving difficult policy questions and significant statutory and regulatory intervention impacting on millions of people throughout the community. Despite this, residential construction law has, until recently, received relatively little attention from the majority of construction law practitioners, and not just in Australia. This innovative subject, taught by Matthew Bell and Suzanne Kirton, seeks to address this deficiency and introduce students to an evolving area of construction law in a comparative context, with material from Australasia (including Victoria) and from other members of the common law family of legal systems. Practitioners will make a significant contribution as guest lecturers.

Principal topics include:

  • Legislation specifically applicable to residential construction
  • Legal protection for ‘consumers’ in relation to residential construction
  • Legal obligations undertaken by the seller in relation to the quality of a new residential building
  • Means by which an off-plan buyer of a new residential house or unit may be protected against the financial failure of a project party
  • Remedies in relation to defects in the structure or common parts of multi-unit developments
  • Rights of successors in title to enjoy the remedies against the developer or any other project party responsible for defects
  • The impact of limitation periods upon remedies for different categories of defects
  • The role of insurance in protecting home-owners against the costs of repairs or defects claims
  • The impact of mandatory or voluntary registration or accreditation systems for residential developers and suppliers of construction services

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Understand in a comparative context the aims and methods of the law as it applies to the delivery of residential construction projects
  • Be familiar with the interaction between private and public law in regulating the process of construction in a residential context
  • Have a detailed understanding of the problems of bringing legal actions for defects in the context of multi-occupation residential developments
  • Appreciate the impact of special legal protection for parties treated by the law as weaker in bargaining terms
  • Understand the impact and usefulness of sectoral insurance and warranty schemes and their effect in ensuring quality of construction and in offering claims resolution systems
  • Be familiar with the procedural, funding and management issues which impact on litigation for housing defects
  • Be aware of legal and quasi-legal governmental interventions in relation to housing construction, repairs and improvements via registration and accreditation schemes
  • Be able to contribute meaningfully to ongoing debates about optimal ways of dealing with these matters at a policy level.

Last updated: 23 July 2019