Welcome back to Foundations . This edition covers new laws, handy tips and industry updates affecting your trade. We have also highlighted upcoming events to inform you on the latest in the Home Building sector. For more Fair Trading news, information and services visit fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

New tribunal hears out home building matters

Not being paid for building work is one scenario that could see you enforcing your rights through the new NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

As 2014 rolled in, the new Tribunal was rolled out. NCAT replaces the former Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT). Under its Consumer and Commercial Division, the Tribunal will hear and determine disputes between consumers, traders and insurers concerning residential building work of up to $500,000.

New tribunal launch
Above: NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe (right) at launch of ‘super’ Tribunal NCAT with (L-R) NCAT President Justice Robertson Wright and NCAT Steering Committee member Vicki Telfer.

Remember, if you have a complaint, NSW Fair Trading remains your first port of call. Lodge your home building complaint online or call us on 13 32 20.

Did you know: for certain complaints, a Fair Trading Building Inspector will meet with the contractor and homeowner to look into the complaint on-site. See: What does the Building Inspector do?  on our Building complaints page. 

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Rules for pools 

‘Is my pool compliant?’ should be the question on pool owners’ lips. Anyone with a swimming or spa pool thinking of selling their property, or landlords entering into a new tenancy agreement, will need a valid swimming pool certificate of compliance (or relevant occupancy certificate) from their local council or a private pool certifier by 29 April 2014.

Pool owners should have already registered their pool on NSW Government's online Swimming pool register, and if they haven't they should do so now. This website features a pool barrier checklist to assess how the pool measures up against new safety standards. 

This also applies to common property pools and spas in strata and community title schemes. If you own a strata unit, contact your owners corporation secretary to check if your pool is registered and a valid certificate of compliance or relevant occupation certificate is being arranged.

For details visit the Division of Local Government website or ask your local council.

unfenced swimming pool
Above: What's missing from this image? The Swimming pool register outlines safety standards for pools in line with new laws (photo credit: Gabriel Robledo).   

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Top tip - it pays to renew your licence on time 

When it comes to renewing your builder’s licence, paying your licence fee on or before the due date will save you time and money. It will protect you from penalties that could compromise your company, reputation and workers who you supervise.

Licensing enforces professional standards and protects industry and consumers from unscrupulous and unqualified traders.

Not renewing on time makes you technically ‘unlicensed’ with potentially serious implications for your business. Until you renew your licence you will have to stop all work, which could mean staff working under you must also cease work.

If you are operating unlicensed and a Home Building Investigator conducts an on-site compliance visit, the following fines could apply:
• up to $750 for individuals
• an additional $250 for a contractor entering into a contract while unlicensed
• a further fine of $250 for newspaper advertising while unlicensed
• if you are operating under a company licence, all these fines would double
• if you are working for or subcontracting to a large Home Building company, your employer could face a $1,500 fine, jeopardising your future with that company.

If you renew your overdue licence within 3 months of it falling due, you will have to pay a late restoration fee. If your licence has lasped for more than 3 months, you will have to pay additional fees again. See: Home building fees according to your licence.

Don’t risk the headache. Find out about your licence renewal options and renew your licence on or ahead of time.

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Stop travelling conmen in their tracks  

Fair Trading again stepped up action against travelling conmen over the summer. We are urging people to first check their tradesperson is a qualified professional and report dodgy tradies doing unlicensed work and ripping off customers such as vulnerable elderly residents.

The national Travelling Conmen campaign continues to support Fair Trading in raising public awareness, and detecting and prosecuting those guilty of shonky deals and workmanship.

Was your area targeted?
Conmen have recently been spotted at numerous locations throughout regional NSW and the Sydney metropolitan area. You can ‘like’ the Stop Travelling ConMen Facebook page and keep tabs on travelling conmen reported on the interactive map at stoptravellingconmen.org.

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WorkCover homes in on home building risk 

In the last 2 years, more than 150 housing construction workers have been seriously injured or killed on the job in NSW. With these startling statistics in mind, WorkCover NSW launched its House Construction Industry Safety Project last month.

WorkCover NSW has outlined actions, working with industry, worker and business groups, to boost safety and help more injured workers recover and adjust to ongoing work faster. View WorkCover’s Industry Action Plan and for more background read their media release: Project to prevent house construction deaths and injuries launched
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Simplified fire sprinkler requirements in NSW nursing homes

Automatic fire sprinkler systems are required in all NSW nursing homes. Under the new NSW Government laws in place as of 14 February 2014, this applies to:

  • all residential living quarters
  • non-residential areas below a resident area assessed as high fire hazard, such as car parks.

Operators do not have to install further fire sprinklers where suitable smoke detection and fire and smoke barriers are in place in non-residential areas (such as offices) under a sprinkler-protected resident area.

Fire and Rescue NSW confirmed that the amendments, subject to specific and strict conditions, would continue to help protect people in the event of fire.

For more detail visit planning.nsw.gov.au/firesprinklers.

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Mark your diary

Take advantage of industry networks with these events:

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Hungry for feedback  

What would make Foundations more helpful and interesting for you and our other subscribers? Please email ideas and feedback to foundations@finance.nsw.gov.au.

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