If you are a subcontractor who has not been paid on time or has not been paid the full amount, you have options. This applies on any construction project – government or private enterprise.
Options for subcontractors
- Use the dispute resolution mechanism in your contract.
- Seek rapid adjudication under the Construction Contracts Act 2004. Visit the Building and Energy website or call 1300 489 099. Further details are below.
- Get guided dispute resolution and mediation through the Small Business Development Corporation. Visit their website or call 133 140.
- Go to the Magistrates Court for minor claims for debt or damages. Visit the Magistrates Court website or call 61 8 9425 2222.
- Contact your industry association as it may have low-cost dispute resolution processes for members.
As a subcontractor on construction projects, you should fully understand your risks, rights and obligations. Before subcontracting, you must understand how contracts, credit management, debt recovery and dispute resolution works.
You should obtain independent legal advice about your activities.
If a head contractor goes into receivership, administration or liquidation, you may not receive payment.
Assistance for subcontractors on Department of Finance projects
We want to help subcontractors get paid. If you are a subcontractor on a project managed by us and you have not been paid you should first speak to the head contractor.
If that doesn’t help, you can contact our project manager, the project consultant or talk to our Feedback Officer by:
- phoning 61 8 6551 1888
- emailing BMWcomplaintsandfeedback@finance.wa.gov.au
- writing in the Department of Finance's online Feedback Management System
- writing to the Department of Finance Building Management and Works Locked Bag 44 Cloisters Square PERTH WA 6850
We will investigate the claim, and if you choose to register a formal complaint, we will report back. You must give us any supporting documents such as invoices, correspondence and claims.
If the non-payment is part a contractual dispute between the you and the head contractor, we can’t legally intervene because we are not part of the contract between you and the head contractor.
In these cases, you should get independent legal advice or contact the Building Commission of WA or the Small Business Development Corporation who may be able to help resolve disputes.
Subcontractors and the Construction Contracts Act
Taking legal action to recover money can be time-consuming and costly. Contracts in the construction industry are covered by the Construction Contracts Act 2004 (the Act).
The Act has a rapid adjudication process to resolve disputes about payments for building and construction contracts. Under the Act, an adjudicator can be appointed and there are time limits for adjudication. For more information on the Act please call the Building Commission on 1300 489 099.
Adjudication under the Act is for contracts and not salary or wage disputes. For help with salary or wage disputes, please contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.
Other helpful information
- The Building Commission WA’s dispute resolution for information on building complaints, payment disputes and information for subcontractors).
- The Building Services (Complaint Resolution and Administration) Act 2011 provides a streamlined system of registration and approval for people working in the building industry.
- How to proceed with a claim through the Magistrates Court fact sheet.
- The Small Business Development Corporation’s resolving a dispute and subcontractor support information.
- The Ombudsman Western Australia’s how to make a complaint page.
- The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety legislative framework.
- Western Australia's building laws - The Building Act 2011.
- How to submit feedback and complaints for projects managed by the Department of Communities (Housing).
- Project Bank Account Information.