Fair Trading enquiries
13 32 20

Building Business Expos - 2016 wrap up


NSW Fair Trading recently completed its annual Building Business Expo Program. This year's expos were attended by a total of 971 people. Eight evening seminars were held between July and November 2016 at the following locations around NSW – Condell Park, Hornsby, Kempsey, Newcastle, Wollongong, Parramatta, Gosford and Dee Why. Since the program launched in 2009, Fair Trading has now held 87 building expos in NSW, attended by approximately 13,000 people in total.

The Expos are a one-stop-shop for builders, tradespeople and their business partners to receive essential information and support for operating in the NSW residential building industry. Expo attendees have direct access to a range of Government agencies, as well as industry experts who provide practical advice to help with running a small business.

Building and Swimming Pool licence holders earn 3 CPD points for attendance. However, the information provided is relevant to a wider audience, including those working in specialist trades, sub-contractors, and TAFE students undertaking the Certificate IV in Building and Construction course.

Fair Trading is conducting a detailed review of the Expo program to ensure that it meets the needs of those who attend. We welcome feedback and comments from all of this year's Expo attendees. Simply email Building_Expos@finance.nsw.gov.au with your thoughts, including any suggestions regarding the format, content and timing of the events, or any other relevant issue. If there is a key topic you would like covered in our 2017 program, please let us know.

Home Building Compensation Fund reform


In November, the NSW Government announced an overhaul of the Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF).

HBCF is a mandatory insurance product which builders are required to take out for residential building work over $20,000.

The reforms will enable private insurers to enter the market, improve protections for consumers against incomplete and defective building work, and return the scheme to financial sustainability.

The reforms follow extensive public and industry consultation. A reform bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament in the first half of 2017. For more information on the reforms, please visit the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) website.

SIRA has taken over regulation of the Fund from NSW Fair Trading. Another organisation, icare, manages the insurance policies.

Please see the following article for further information on the new HBCF premium pricing and digital portal.

HBCF - new premium pricing and digital portal


Following the Government announcement, icare hbcf (Insurance and Care NSW – Home Building Compensation Fund) have commenced implementation of a series of operational changes.

Insurance premium increases are planned to be phased in over two years. In the new year, builders will receive a personal letter from icare, through their broker, detailing their new premium. This first premium will include risk-based pricing for individual builders. This will ensure that lower-risk builders no longer subsidise higher-risk businesses.

There are also changes to the way brokers are paid, with a service fee added to the premium by the broker, rather than a commission paid by the Fund. This change is not expected to result in a higher cost to most builders. Building contractors are advised to contact their brokers in the first instance with any questions on these changes.

icare are also creating a new, digital portal for builders to submit policies, self-manage eligibility and close open jobs online, which is expected to launch in April 2017. 

More information on the premium changes and digital portal will be available on the icare hbcf website.

Registration now open - Australian Building Codes Board 2017 NCC Information Seminars


Registrations are now open for the Australian Building Codes Board's (ABCB) 2017 NCC Information Seminars. The Sydney dates are the 8th and 9th March at the Westin.

The presentations are specifically designed for the practical application, clarification and understanding of the Building Code of Australia. The seminars will include presentations from the ABCB, Standards Australia, and local Building Control Administrators.

The previous events have sold out, so get in quickly and register now to secure your place at a discounted rate.

Beware of unlicensed contractors


A reminder this festive season and always, to always ensure that your contractors hold the appropriate licence for the work being carried out.

Recently, unlicensed contractor Kazmin Vlatko was prosecuted by NSW Fair Trading for contracting to do residential home building and specialist work, despite being an unqualified tradesman.

Mr Vlatko was convicted of misrepresenting himself as a licensed contractor, not providing Home Building Compensation Fund cover, and receiving more than the maximum allowable deposit. He was ordered to pay over $23,000 in fines and costs.

Fair Trading regularly takes action against unlicensed contractors and this is just one example. Consumers can help to safeguard their interests by accessing Fair Trading's website to conduct a quick, free licence check on contractors before entering into a contract or agreeing for building work to be carried out.

See the media release on the NSW Fair Trading website for more information.

See how new strata laws affect you


Strata laws have been modernised in NSW, with most major changes having started on 30 November 2016. They are relevant to anyone who lives in, owns or manages strata property.

One benefit of the reforms is that renovations are now simpler to get approved. Strata schemes must also review their by-laws (strata rules) by 30 November 2017. Another key reform is the ability of owners to collectively sell their strata block if 75% of the lot owners agree and certain conditions are met.

Further changes concerning new strata buildings will apply from 1 July. These will require developers to lodge a bond equal to 2 per cent of the contract price for residential and mixed use high rise strata buildings. For any defective work identified within the required timeframes, the bond can pay for repairing the work or be held until the work is fixed.

See how else the changes affect owners, tenants and industry at our strata laws website.

Unfair contract terms law - new protections for small businesses


If you're running a small business, or work with one, you should be aware that new protections for small businesses against unfair contract terms started on 12 November 2016.

Under the new protections, the courts can strike out unfair terms in standard form small business contracts. The unfair terms will be void and treated as if they never existed. However, the rest of the contract will remain valid. This law only applies to standard form agreements between businesses where one of the firms employs less than 20 people and the contract is worth up to $300,000 in a 12 month period.

To help you understand the impact this may have on your business, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have published a report, which includes a review of standard form contracts that are commonly offered to small businesses. For more information, visit the unfair contract terms page on the ACCC website.

Have your say on improving fire safety in NSW


The NSW Government is seeking to improve fire safety in new and existing buildings and is asking for your feedback on changes to relevant legislation and certification.

Improving fire safety has been given special priority by the government in their response to the final report on the statutory review of the Building Professionals Act 2005, released in September 2016.

To view the draft Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017 and to have your say on the proposed changes, please visit the Department of Planning and Environment's consultation page.

Submissions can be made until 31 January 2017.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Please note that some NSW Fair Trading services will close or operate on reduced hours over the Christmas period. Please see below for our customer service telephone enquiry hours:

23rd December: 9am-1pm
26th-28th December: Closed
29th December: 9am-1pm
30th December: 9am-1pm
2nd January: Closed

We'd like to wish all of our Foundations readers a very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.