Fair Trading enquiries
13 32 20

Fire safety and external wall cladding

Information icon

An inter-agency Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce (the Taskforce) was established in June this year to develop and implement a co-ordinated, whole of government policy response to the Grenfell fire in London. On 28 July, 2017 the NSW Government announced comprehensive reforms being undertaken to further strengthen the protections in place for fire safety focussing firstly on residential buildings.

If owners and occupants of buildings are concerned about fire safety in their building, they should take action without delay. Residents seeking further information are advised to contact their real estate agent, landlord, building owner or strata manager.

Builders and tradespeople are reminded that before using a product or material you should be satisfied that the components you are using are suitable. You should talk to your supplier about the suitability of a product for the intended use. Your certifying authority may also be of some assistance in helping to determine the suitability of a product.

More information about external wall cladding, fire safety and the NSW Government’s priorities is available or download the fact sheet (PDF size: 202kb).

Information about non-conforming and non-compliant building products is available.


Building Business Expos in full swing

Events icon
NSW Fair Trading’s annual Building Business Expo program is underway, with 8 events scheduled between August and November 2017. The expos provide licensed builders, contractors, tradespeople and their business partners with direct access to industry experts who can provide practical advice to help them run their businesses. More than 13,000 people have attended the expos since they began in 2009. In a recent survey, attendees rated the value in attending an average of 8.4/10 and 9 out of every 10 respondents would recommend the expo to a colleague.
There are 4 more building expos scheduled this year at Chatswood, Hexham, Mittagong and Liverpool. To register, ring 13 32 20 or book on the Fair Trading website


Important reminder for builders- ensure all approvals are in place before commencing work

Compliance icon

As a builder, your final payment may depend on it.

All building work (unless ‘exempt development’) requires either a development consent and construction certificate, or a complying development certificate to be in place before work starts. Building work is defined as any physical activity involved in erecting a building- it even includes preparations such as grading the site, pegging out walls and installing sediment fencing.

A construction certificate has no effect if it is issued after building work has started, and a complying development certificate can only be issued for proposed development, meaning it cannot be issued after work starts. This means any building work that starts without a valid certificate is unauthorised.

Design changes proposed during construction must be assessed by the principal certifying authority (PCA) before being built. Depending on the extent of the change, a modified construction certificate or complying development certificate might be needed.

At the end of the process, an occupation certificate can only be issued by the PCA if there is a valid construction certificate or complying development certificate in force. No valid certificate means no occupation certificate.

If the work was not approved before it was carried out, there could be significant delays, uncertainty or financial loss. This is because the building owner will have to apply to council for a building certificate, which may not be granted. The council has discretion whether to issue a building certificate, and may instead issue orders requiring rectification or demolition.

Since the occupation certificate often triggers a builder’s final payment for the work, not being able to obtain this certificate may affect a builder’s bottom line.

Builders can read more about their responsibilities under NSW planning legislation on the Building Professionals Board website.


Notices can now be served electronically

Information icon
The Electronic Transactions Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 was recently passed making it easier to conduct transactions electronically. NSW Fair Trading’s energy and gas unit will now be able to send prohibition or recall notices by email. Disciplinary and other accreditation-related notices can also be sent electronically by The Building Professionals Board, who are now part of NSW Fair Trading and responsible for the accreditation and regulation of NSW certifiers.

The Builder Self-Service Portal

Insurance icon
The icare home building compensation fund (HBCF) Builder Self-Service Portal launched in July 2017. Eligible builders are now able to carry out HBCF functions online, removing the need to manually complete paperwork and lodge them via a broker.

You can use the portal to:

• generate a personalised quote using the online pricing calculator
• see your current balance of eligibility limit, download your eligibility assessment summary and certificate of eligibility
• request a new policy and download certificates of insurance
• add job completion dates to free up capacity for future jobs
• see your pricing profile (and your specific current risk based premium factors)
• view your profile limits (i.e. the value of jobs you are able to bid on).

The online process is identical to what you have been doing manually with your broker’s help. The main difference is that online forms only collect details relevant to the project so there is no double handling.

Visit the icare website for more information and to register for the portal.

For more information on home building compensation insurance visit the State Insurance Regulatory Authority website.


HBCF insurance premium pricing

Insurance icon
Builders are reminded that increases to premiums for home building compensation fund (HBCF) insurance will come into effect from Tuesday, 3 October 2017. The increase varies for the different types of residential projects. The hbcf pricing calculator will provide the premium, stamp duty and GST (excluding broker fees) for the type of construction based on the application date you nominate. Pricing now reflects the claims experience for different project types and further increases will be phased in during 2018 to achieve a fully funded scheme. For more information, please visit the icare website.

Update to Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2017

Legislation icon
The new Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 September 2017. The Regulation supports the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011 and allows Fair Trading to effectively regulate onsite plumbing and drainage work state wide.

The key changes to the Regulation are:

• revising the fee structure for audit inspections of onsite plumbing and drainage work in the areas where Fair Trading is the inspection authority
• increasing the deadline to submit a notice of work to the regulator (for work not involving an alternative solution) from 2 days before work commences to just before work starts
• reducing the maximum penalty payable for certain administrative penalty notice offences
• minor drafting changes to update requirements.

Please note that the new fee structure published in the 2017 Regulation will not commence until 1 July 2018. Further information on the implementation of the new structure and changes to MyInspections will be provided in early 2018.

You can view the Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2017 on the NSW Legislation website.

Easier builder licence re-entry

Compliance icon
The pathways to becoming – and staying - licensed in the building and construction industry in NSW were reviewed and made easier from March 2017.

Many previous licence holders are now able to re-enter the residential building industry without having to retrain or prove their qualifications and experience, provided they haven’t been unlicensed more than five years.

For more information see the section ‘Previous licence and supervisor certificate holders’ on the Fair Trading website


Installing complying floor wastes- tips for plumbers and builders

Plumbing icon
When using larger square or rectangular type tiles, ensure that round or octagonal floor grates are installed to the extent set in the Plumbing and Drainage Standards. These grates are commonly channel type and vary in width depending on what the bathroom designer is able to install.

Follow the tips below to ensure your floor waste complies.

1. Location – refer to The National Construction Code (NCC) Volumes 1&2 for information on where you are required to install a shower grate and floor waste.
2. For minimum requirements on the installation of floor wastes and shower grates – refer to AS/NZS 3500 Plumbing and Drainage standards.
3. The minimum widths of the grate or channel are below.
  • Drainage principle (below the concrete slab) is min DN 80 to finish floor level
  • A sanitary drainage principle is DN 80 grate or channel with a waste pipe not smaller than DN40.
4. Outlet size of the grate or channel depends on the size of the pipe riser.

Building and plumbing contractors should ensure that all aspects of the plumbing comply with the Plumbing and Drainage Standards.

For a more detailed explanation on the installation of floor wastes, please download the Plumbing Industry Advisory Note 5/2013 (pdf size: 229kb).