We’ve got some helpful advice and hot topics covered this Winter. Be sure to clear space in your diary to attend a Home Building Expo near you. Plus, you can email your ideas for future topics you’d like to see featured in this newsletter to foundations@finance.nsw.gov.au

Free Home Building Expos promise boost for builders and traders

NSW Fair Trading’s annual Building Business Expo Program is back from July, helping licensees to keep up-to-date in the residential building industry. The informative evening expos are free and offer practical support and advice for licensed contractors and their business partners on business improvement strategies, regulatory requirements, electrical, plumbing and gas issues, building contracts and variations, mediating disputes, licensing, home warranty insurance, taxation issues, and workplace safety.

The 2014 expos will be held at Penrith, Hornsby, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Newcastle, Bathurst, Coffs Harbour and Kiama.

Check our Events register for details and to book.

Attendees at a previous Building Expo in front of Fair Trading banner
Above: Discover the buzz when our Home Building Expo travels to your region.

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Seminars help plumbers and drainers navigate new online gateway

Fair Trading’s Plumbing Inspection and Assurance Service has been introducing plumbers and drainers to the new My Inspections plumbing gateway; an online system to make payments and submit forms for onsite work easily. Get comfortable with the new system by attending an information seminar. Go to our Events register for bookings and details.

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Plumbing check-ups help remote Aboriginal communities

Fair Trading launched a plumbing check pilot program in April to help remote Indigenous communities in Walgett and Lightning Ridge. The program offered practical inspections and tips to make a difference to people's everyday lives. Check out the verdict on the visit in our story, New plumbing program flush with success.

Fair Trading Officers inspect Lightning Ridge hot water heater
Above: Fair Trading’s Brett Cunningham and Lynelle Collins inspect a Lightning Ridge hot water heater.

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Get a head start with home building reforms 

When it comes to the laws on home building and renovation, new reforms have signalled important changes to the rights and responsibilities of traders and home owners.

The new laws will support the industry to work with home owners and deliver dream homes into the future. You can download the Home Building Amendment Act from the NSW Parliament website.

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In the headlines: $44,000 day in court for unlicensed Greenacre builder

Those reading the newspapers may have caught our recent story on Mr Buddy Charbel Challita.

In one instance, with work barely begun, Mr Challita ripped off a home owner $13,500.

The 42 year old was ordered to pay fines and costs including:

  • $6,000 fine for unlicensed contracting of specialist work
  • $18,000 fine for three counts of demanding/receiving payment before residential work had commenced
  • $18,000 fine for three counts of contracting to do residential work without a certificate of insurance
  • $2,095 in professional and court costs.

Fair Trading’s education and compliance efforts support industry and consumers by promoting licenced work, and deterring shonky and dangerous practices.

Learn more on this case in our media release: Unlicensed builder fined more than $40,000.

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Top tip: consumer guarantees for products and services  

When dealing with customers and suppliers, you need to be doubly aware of consumer guarantees in the Australian Consumer Law to carry out your legal responsibilities and protect your rights. This applies to products and services that are sold, hired or leased. Consumer guarantees are also in place for second hand goods, and whether or not a separate warranty or guarantee is provided. 

Products need to be fit for purpose, of an acceptable quality and match any sample or demonstration models. Services, as well as being fit for purpose, must be delivered with care and skill and within a reasonable time if there is no specified timeframe. 

If there is a minor failure with the good or service, the supplier may replace, repair or refund it. If there is a major failing, the consumer has the right to choose a refund, replacement or request compensation for any drop in value of the goods or services. In some circumstances, consumers may seek compensation for reasonably foreseeable loss or damage that was not outside of human control.

Manufacturers must also guarantee availability of repairs and spare parts, and consumers may enforce their guarantee with them in certain cases.

Come to grips with consumer guarantees on the Australian Consumer Law website and for more details look up our Consumer guarantees page.

Extra tip – be aware of exemptions. Auctions and one-off sales by private sellers do not have consumer guarantees, neither do products intended to be on-sold or supplied, nor used in trade, commerce, manufacturing or product repairs.

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National Construction Code 2015 - Have your say

The Public Comment Draft of the 2015 edition of the National Construction Code (NCC) which includes the Building Code of Australia and Plumbing Code of Australia is now available for public comment. Code users are encouraged to review the changes and to provide comment to the Australian Building Codes Board. Consultation on the proposed changes must be submitted by 1 August 2014.

For information about consultations and to view the proposed changes, visit the Australian Building Codes Board website .

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Guiding the way on deck and balcony safety 

Recently there have been a number of incidents involving decks and balconies resulting in injury and death. Fair Trading’s new maintenance and safety guide helps everyone to know how to check the decks and balconies around their home to make sure they are safe and sound. The guide also provides suggestion for finding expert help to inspect, maintain or repair decks. Learn more on our deck and balcony safety page.

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Annual fee change from 1 July

New fees apply from 1 July 2014.

Before you make a fee payment to NSW Fair Trading, please check the new fees on our website. The new fees are part of our annual fee update, reflecting an increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 2.64% as released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Since 2000, basing fees on this annual system has enabled Fair Trading to provide a quality service to customers while avoiding large, irregular increases that limit certainty for businesses and consumers

Further information on the new fees can be found on Fair Trading's website from 1 July 2014.

Free health and safety advice for small builders

Focusing on the house construction industry, WorkCover NSW is linking up small business with big business mentors to tackle common health and safety issues.

If you are a builder with up to 20 full-time workers, apply now for the free 2014 Mentor Program and you could be eligible for a $500 safety rebate. You can also nominate a plasterer or carpenter you subcontract for the program.

For more on how working safely can help save you time and money, visit the WorkCover website.

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Chain reaction: new smoke alarm connection helps protect residents

The Building Code of Australia now requires multiple smoke alarms to be interconnected in homes and residential units, triggering all alarms whenever one alarm is activated.

Builders and electricians should become familiar with the changes that apply to new building work or new buildings (Class 1, 2 and 3 buildings and Class 4 parts of a building) where the Construction Certificate or Complying Development Certificate application is lodged from 1 May 2014 inclusive. Learn more on the Australian Building Codes Board amendments page.

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Individual metering for multi-level buildings

Plan ahead and design units so they are ready for individual meters. The new requirements are compulsory from 1 September 2014. Read Sydney Water’s Multi-level individual metering guide or use the fact sheet: Compulsory requirements for new multi-level buildings .

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Businesses, prepare to lodge your Taxable payments annual report

Prepare now to ensure your business is ready to lodge the annual report on time. 

  • Is your business in the building and construction industry?
  • Do you pay contractors for building and construction services?

If yes, you need to report these payments to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) each year on a Taxable payments annual report due 21 July 2014.

If you filled out a paper report last year and have business software that can generate the annual report, make the process quicker and easier this year by lodging online. Watch a video on how to lodge online or go to the ATO’s Taxable payments reporting page for details.'

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Mark your diary

Take advantage of these events: