How to avoid copyright complications when building a home

If you’ve got plans for a new home, simply handing them over to a builder could see you lose ownership of your plans, cost you significantly more money or even land you in legal trouble.

Adelaide Build Assist’s Anthony Buckingham explains the issue and how you can avoid it.

How complications arise

When you begin the process of designing and building your own home, you may not be aware that the copyright associated with your designs will usually remain in the ownership of the builder who drew up the plans.

Even if every idea on the plan was yours and you provided a draft of your own and the builder simply put pen to paper on the final version, they will own the copyright.

This simple fact could have disastrous consequences for you as the client, because if you aren’t happy with the price quoted by the builder you can’t take those plans to a new builder without the risk of being sued.

An example

Let’s say you take your plans to Builder A. But for whatever reason, you decide not to proceed with that builder.

You then take your plans and go to Builder B, who builds the house.

Builder A sees that Builder B has built off their plans (which you had provided them).

Builder A sues Builder B. Builder A could also sue you, along with Builder B who could sue to recover their losses.

What’s more, if you decide to start your plans from scratch with a new builder, you won’t be able to use all the ideas you put into your first set of plans, meaning you most likely won’t be able to build your dream house to the specifications you wanted in the first place. You may even find out later that Builder A used your ideas in other homes!

Some builders use copyright ownership as a tactic to prevent clients from seeking out a builder who can offer a better price.

This makes it hard to stick to budget and get the best possible result when building a home.

What to do to protect your plans

Put simply, the best way to prevent copyright complications arising and ensure you achieve the best build price possible is to engage an experienced building advisory service such as Adelaide Build Assist.

The process should include having plans drawn up by an independent designer, not by a builder you are considering engaging.

Not only will you be working with the right designer for your needs, you’ll own the copyright yourself.

We can also utilise our network of engineers, surveyors, interior designers and other professionals and ensure that all the important documentation relating to your project remains with you, not the builder.

On completion of all documentation (owned by you), ABA can then conduct a competitive tender to our network of trusted, boutique builders, each of whom we have long-standing working relationships with, to ensure you are achieving the best build price possible with no risk of losing ownership. On the rare occasion that you decide not to proceed with your build, you would still retain all ownership of the documentation, therefore being able to potentially “on-sell” with your site or retain until you decide to build.

How can we help you?

Got building plans that you want to bring to life?

Stay in complete control of your build, use Adelaide Build Assist to guide you through the process.

Contact us for a no obligations discussion about your project.