If building work is defective and a defect arises from the wrongful acts or defaults of more than one person who would be jointly and severally liable for damage or loss resulting from the defective work and an action for loss or damage is brought against one or more of those people, the court may give judgment against each person for such amount as may be just and equitable, having regard to the extent to which the act or default of that person contributed to the damage or loss [Development Act 1993 (SA) s 72]. This section is designed to stop councils from being liable for the full amount of damages claimed in an action where the builder was mainly to blame for the defective building work, as both the builder and the council are joined as defendants to the action.
For houses built after January 1994, the time limit to take action for defective building work is ten years, after which no action for damages for economic loss or for the cost of rectifying the defective work may be taken. The ten year period runs from the completion of the building work [Development Act 1993 (SA) s 73].
Owners of houses built before January 1994, may still be able to make a claim after the ten year time limit has expired. A High Court case Bryan v Maloney has also held that subsequent owners may be able to take action against the builder where the work is defective. Subsequent owners are subject to the same time limits.
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