Our spring edition of Foundations includes a wide range of interesting updates and tips to help keep you up-to-date in the residential building industry in NSW.

As always please email your comments and ideas for future stories to foundations@finance.nsw.gov.au

Building Business Expo program - 2015 update 

Fair Trading’s annual Building Business Expo Program is in full swing.

The first five building expos have attracted more than 700 attendees in Cowra, Liverpool, West Ryde, Newcastle and Dee Why. Our next expo is in Hurstville on Thursday and is booked to capacity. 

The three-hour seminars provide licensed builders, trade contractors and their business partners with expert advice on a wide range of home building issues, such as business improvement strategies, rights and responsibilities working in the industry, updates on home building reforms and legislation, home building compensation fund (insurance), contracts and variations, dispute resolution, mediation services, compliance, and work health and safety in the residential building industry.

It is also a great networking opportunity for attendees and if you are a builder or swimming pool builder, you can earn CPD points by attending.

If you are located in Lismore or Shellharbour and you are yet to attend a building expo, there are still spots available. 

  • Lismore on 21 October 2015, and
  • Shellharbour on 5 November 2015

Book your spot now!

Fair Trading staff and event attendees interacting at a 2014 Building Business Expo

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Warning against licence lending

Licence lending is illegal!

Licence lending occurs when a builder or tradesperson allows or helps an unlicensed person use their licence to seek or carry out residential building or specialist work in NSW.

If you are a licensee and you authorise a contract to be entered into in your name, you will be held responsible for any defects for the full statutory warranty period, even if it was actually someone else who undertook the work.

If you lend out your licence you will be in breach of Section 46A of the Home Building Act 1989. A range of penalties and monetary fines can be imposed.
If you engage in this illegal practice, it will come back to bite you. If your licence is attached to a building project that goes off the rails because the mate you entrusted is inexperienced, out of his depth, and has little or no understanding of the National Construction Code, problems will arise.

This could include

  • underquoting for labour and materials,
  • poor workmanship,
  • critical stages being left incomplete, and
  • the unlicensed person doing the work may even disappear.

This means, you, as the licensee, could end up having to fix up the mess left behind or risk being sued. Construction lawyers often advise aspiring home owners to go after the licensee who has the home building compensation fund (home owners warranty) policy. If you allow another party to use your licence and an insurer needs to step in and pay an insurance claim, the insurer will pursue you, as the licensee, for repayment of the debt. This could result in financial ruin for the licensee who foolishly leant their licence.

So please, don’t let someone else use your licence. It may help you get some building work done, but if you are caught, it could have long term consequences.

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Home building service - actively supporting a fair and thriving building industry 

The Home Building Service (HBS) division of NSW Fair Trading plays an important role in supporting and driving a fair and thriving building industry. Wondering how exactly this is done?

Licensing

HBS oversees a rigorous licensing regime ensuring that only properly qualified, and fit and proper tradespeople are issued with licences. To do this they check qualifications, criminal records, bankruptcy and insolvency, company histories and previous licence records.

In 2014-15, HBS:

  • maintained 190,000 entities holding 281,980 licence classes
  • renewed or restored 67,454 licences / certificates
  • issued 17,091 new builders, trade and specialist trade licences
  • upgraded 1,636 licences following variation requests
  • cancelled or suspended 471 licences.

Compliance

HBS runs compliance and inspection programs to ensure builders and traders are complying with the law and are properly licensed for the work they are carrying out. If a business or individual fails to comply with the laws, Fair Trading can take disciplinary action, issue fines or prosecute.

In 2014-15, HBS:

  • undertook 272 home building, 1,150 electrical and 239 gas field audit inspections on a random basis during compliance campaigns
  • issued 46 Notices to Show Cause resulting in a total value of $237,000 in fines and seven licences cancelled and/or the licensee disqualified from holding a licence
  • issued 366 penalty notices for offences totalling $404,500 in fines
  • undertook successful prosecutions for 261 offences totalling $727,545 in penalties.

Dispute resolution

HBS offers a free dispute resolution service to help resolve residential building issues between consumers and traders.

In 2014-15, HBS conducted 2,342 mediations and onsite inspections to assist in home building dispute resolution.

Plumbing regulation

HBS has a Plumbing Inspection & Assurance Services (PIAS) Branch which maintains a risk-based compliance and inspection regime covering Sydney, Illawarra and Blue Mountains; provides technical phone advice on more complex installations; and ensures all non-compliances are rectified.

In 2014-15, PIAS:

  • conducted 67,391 onsite plumbing inspections,
  • dealt with 12,136 technical enquiries.

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Compliance update

Read about some of our latest convictions for unlicensed building work and illegal contracts.

Unlicensed building a jolly rotten business

Fair Trading successfully prosecuted a father and son, Trent and Michael Jolly, who between them breached home building and consumer protection laws by operating a business and undertaking residential building work for which neither they nor the business held a licence. Trent and Michael Jolly have been ordered to pay a combined sum of $13,225 in fines. They were involved in the supply and installation of operable roofing systems and privacy screens.  Read the media release for all the details.

Lid raised on dodgy roof repairer

A Blue Haven man, Jay Karg, 38, has been convicted of running an unlicensed roofing repair business. He was ordered to pay $6,500 in fines and costs and has been placed on a two-year good behaviour bond.  For more info read the media release.

Concreter prosecuted for illegal contract

A Punchbowl concrete company, Powerline Concrete Constructions Pty Ltd, has been convicted and ordered to pay fines and costs of $4,500 after undertaking construction work using an illegal contract, demanding and accepting a deposit in excess of the statutory minimum and failing to provide insurance under the home building compensation fund. Check out the media release to find out more.

Traders penalised for unlicensed work

Two traders have received penalties of up to $8,000 for conducting work they were not licensed or suitably qualified to do. Read the media release for the complete run-down.

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Revised service and installation rules for electricity

A revised June 2015 edition of the Service and Installation Rules for Electricity have been released. The updated rules have been developed in consultation with industry and ensure the regulation is up to date and delivers best practice.

The new laws must be followed from 1 January 2016 - while the laws became active on 1 July 2015, there is currently a transition period in place.

Service and installation rules are used by electricians and accredited service providers and cover the electricity distributors' requirements for the connection of electrical installations to the distribution network.

Download the Rules from the NSW Government Resources and Energy website. If you have any questions about the Rules or their interpretation, you should contact the local electricity distributor.

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Have you lodged your 2015 taxable payments annual report? No? Well, it's not too late.

The Australian Taxation Office’s taxable payments reporting system requires businesses in the building and construction industry to report the total payments they make to each contractor for building and construction services.

The report for 2014-15 was due by 28 August 2015, however lodging it now will help to minimise the possibility of penalties.

Visit the Australian Taxation Office website for more information on how to lodge the annual report.

If you’re no longer in the construction industry or have not made any payments to contractors during the year, complete the Not required to report form available from the Australian Taxation Office website.

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Download your FREE home building contracts

Don’t forget you can download home building contracts for FREE from the Home building contracts page on the Fair Trading website.

There is a small jobs contract for work over $5,000 and up to $20,000, as well as a major works contract for work over $20,000. Both the forms are available as editable and fillable PDFs.

We've answered some common questions below.

Do the contracts reflect the new laws that commenced on 1 January and 1 March 2015? Yes, the contracts were updated in March to reflect changes to home building laws.

Can I use the contract as often as I like without notifying Fair Trading? Yes.

Can I make changes to the contract eg to include additional specifications, plans or logos? Our contracts are supplied on an ‘as is’ basis and while you cannot edit the Fair Trading contract, you can create a new contract for yourself based on the content of our contract. This ‘new’ contract cannot include the Fair Trading logo or represent that Fair Trading endorses the content of your ‘new’ contract. If you require additional assistance to draw up suitable contracts for your business, you may wish to seek independent legal advice.

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Changes to fire safety reports

Changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 commenced on 2 October and relate to fire safety reports.

Under clauses 144 and 152, Fire and Rescue NSW now has discretion whether or not to provide initial and final fire safety reports. This enables Fire and Rescue to focus on buildings that present the highest risk.

More information is available on the Building Professionals Board website.

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SafeWork NSW update

Asbestos in imported building products

A prohibition notice was recently issued to a building site in Sydney, following the discovery of asbestos in fibrous building panels imported to construct a residential building. Read the safety alert on the SafeWork website for advice on building products that have been imported and found to contain asbestos.

SafeWork NSW has just released a new video safety alert – Forklifts load handling

There have been several incidents this year where workers were injured by forklifts. One of these was fatal. Watch this short video on YouTube – Forklift load handling for simple steps on how to handle loads safely and reduce injuries and fatalities in the workplace.

Electrical safety

Working alongside electricity can be dangerous if appropriate safety measures are not in place. The staying safe on the job page on Endeavour Energy’s website has some useful information including two videos – Electrical hazard awareness for urban workers and Electrical hazard awareness for rural workers. For more information email whs@endeavourenergy.com.au

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Safety reminder for your customers - Rheem gas storage water heaters

Gasfitters, Rheem is seeking your assistance in making sure your customers are aware of the correct procedure for re-lighting a gas water heater.

There are defects with some hot water systems where gas that has accumulated in the combustion chamber may ignite if the lighting instructions are not followed correctly. If the accumulated gas is introduced to an ignition source, there is a risk of an explosive burst of gas.

Reminding your customers to follow the correct re-lighting procedures may prevent the above from occurring. A trouble-shooting guide, including instructional videos, is available on the Rheem website.  

You can also view the safety notice here

For more information please visit the Product safety recalls website

This is also a good time to remind gasfitters of their obligations as part of the commissioning of an appliance AS 5601-2004 Gas Installations - Section 9, 9.3  Appliance Commissioning.  You can read more about your requirements here

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