Fair Trading enquiries
13 32 20

Christmas and New Year close down

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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:

22nd December: 8:30am – 5pm
25th-27th December: Closed
28th December: 8:30 am - 5pm
29th December: 8:30am - 5pm
1st January: Closed

We'd like to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. We look forward to working with you in the new year.


New laws to identify and manage unsafe building products

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The Building Products (Safety) Bill 2017 passed the parliament in November 2017 and the new laws are expected to commence by the end of the year. These laws will prevent the use of unsafe building products by identifying, restricting and rectifying products which pose a safety risk in buildings.

Once they commence, NSW Fair Trading will be able to issue a ban on the use of a building product which poses a safety risk. To ensure that all building products are captured, a ban will be able to outline a specific use or all uses of a particular building product. Authorised officers will have new investigative and assessment powers to help them identify any unsafe uses of a building product. Builders, building product suppliers, manufacturers and importers can be compelled to produce their records so dangerous building products can be tracked and pinpointed. The new legislation will also give councils increased powers to force the rectification of buildings that are a risk to public safety.

More information will be available on the NSW Fair Trading website in the coming weeks. Read the media release.


Strata building bond and inspections scheme commences 1 January 2018

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The strata building bond and inspections scheme introduces a two-stage inspection process and requires developers to lodge a bond with NSW Fair Trading equal to 2% of the contract price for residential and mixed use high rise strata buildings, of four or more stories.

The first inspection takes place between 15 and 18 months after the building work has been completed. The builder is responsible for rectifying any defects identified during this inspection.

The final inspection takes places between 21 and 24 months after the building work has been completed. This inspection will assess whether the defects identified in the first inspection have been rectified. If the defects have not been rectified, the funds secured by the building bond can then be used to pay the costs of rectifying any defective building work. If there are no defects, the bond is released in full to the developer.

The scheme applies to construction contracts signed (or where there is no contract and building work commences) from 1 January 2018.

More information is available on the NSW Fair Trading website.

NSW Fair Trading successful prosecution

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NSW Fair Trading has successfully prosecuted Sam Robinson (also known as Bassam Marouche) for the second time. Robinson, 48, was first convicted in August 2016 of several offences under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), the Home Building Act 1989 and was convicted of a Crimes Act 1900 offence in August this year. Robinson entered into contracts worth almost $150,000, on behalf of his Bass Hill company ATS Group NSW Pty Ltd, even though neither he nor his company held a contractor licence.

Robinson carried out unlicensed contracting; demanded excessive deposits; failed to provide a certificate of insurance; failed to supply materials that were paid for; and failed to finish the work. He was sentenced to a 12-month Intensive Correction Order for these offences, which includes 32 hours of community service each month and weekly parole reporting. He was also ordered to pay $38,000 in fines, and $28,000 in compensation.

While this prosecution was still before the courts, and Robinson was claiming to be too ill to attend hearings, he entered into a $62,000 contract with yet another consumer and started work at that property under his second Bass Hill business, BMF Building Consultants.

Fair Trading secured a second conviction against him for three additional offences under the Home Building Act. He was sentenced to another 12-month Intensive Correction Order, fined an additional $10,000 and ordered to pay back another $19,000 in compensation.


Window safety in strata

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Do you live in, own or do work for a townhouse or unit block? To prevent children falling from windows, strata schemes must have window safety devices installed on all applicable windows by 13 March 2018. This applies to openable windows where the internal floor is more than 2m above the ground surface outside and within a child's reach (less than 1.7m above the inside floor) – see the diagram below.

window safety diagram

The devices must enable the maximum opening to be less than 12.5cm. However a device that allows the window to be fully opened, fully closed and also limited to less than 12.5cm complies with the legislation. As long as the opening can be limited to less than 12.5cm, complying safety devices include devices attached to a window frame or robust bars, but not lightweight fly screens. The device must also be able to withstand a force of 250 newtons (which is equal to 25 kilograms of force). When children are in the unit or townhouse, the devices should be used at all times to prevent falls.

Find out more about window safety device requirements on our website.

Building professionals can also refer to the Advisory Note: Protection of Openable Windows released by the Australian Building Codes Board. The advisory note is intended to be used as guidance material to assist in interpreting the National Construction Code.


An engineer's inspections cannot replace a PCA's inspections

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Only the principal certifying authority (PCA) for a development can carry out the ‘critical stage inspections’ required by planning legislation. The PCA must be notified at least 48 hours in advance of when the building has reached, or will reach, the stage for required inspections to take place.

Only the PCA can authorise another certifying authority to inspect the work on their behalf if they are unavailable when the inspection is due. Inspections must take place in person. An engineer’s certificate or inspection, or photos sent by the builder, are not legal substitutes for an inspection by the PCA.  

It is the builder’s responsibility to ensure all inspections take place at the right time and that work does not commence on the next stages until the inspection has taken place. If an inspection is missed, an occupation certificate may not be issued upon completion of the work, regardless if the work is satisfactory or not.

Only the PCA of the project can complete the final inspection before an occupation certificate is issued.

More information on the responsibilities of a builder in the certification process is available on the Building Professional’s Board website.

Building Business Expos

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A total of 992 licensed builders, tradespeople and their partners attended the Building Business Expos held across eight metropolitan and regional locations. The expo program started in 2009 and approximately 14,000 people have attended 95 events since then.

The expos are part of NSW Fair Trading’s industry education strategy and they contribute to a balanced and integrated approach to promoting compliance with the law. Attendees receive relevant information and practical advice to help them run small businesses in the NSW residential building industry.

Licensed builders and swimming pool licensees can claim 3 CPD points for attending an expo and 1 point for each edition of Foundations.

Fair Trading staff talk to attendees at a recent Building Business expo:

building business expo


$2,000 small business grant to help your business grow

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Revenue NSW can help boost your business with a small business grant of up to $2,000 for every new employee.

The grant encourages small businesses to expand by hiring new employees. This employment incentive grant is available to businesses that are not liable for payroll tax and who have hired new employees (full-time, part-time and casual) from 1 July 2015.

To be eligible, you must:

  • not have a payroll tax liability during the first 12-month employment period
  • have an active ABN
  • make sure services of the new employee are performed in NSW.

The grant is payable as a lump sum after the first anniversary of employment, as long as there is an increase in the number of full-time employees since the new person started. Even if you have some staff turn-over during the year, you will still be eligible provided you can demonstrate that the number of positions has increased.

Receiving the grant is easy. Meet the criteria, apply online, and the grant is yours!
Conditions apply.

For more information watch this video or visit the Revenue NSW website.

Update on the home building compensation scheme reforms

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The reformed home building compensation (HBC) scheme is expected to be operating under new legislation from early 2018.

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) has sought feedback on issues such as eligibility, premiums and claims handling as it develops standards for the scheme – formerly known as home warranty insurance.

SIRA expects to finalise the guidelines and regulations by the end of the year.

The reforms will enable insurers and providers to apply for a licence to sell home building compensation products early in 2018. 

For more information:

To register for updates about these reforms, please email hbcreform@sira.nsw.gov.au 

New app offers builders and tradies the chance to save on fuel

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If you’ve ever driven around looking for cheaper fuel, the NSW Government’s new FuelCheck app can help take all the guess work out of this weekly chore. The free tool giving builders, tradies and motorists a bird’s eye view of real time petrol prices across the state is now available to download.

The app will search for fuel by price, location, fuel type and even brand, making it quicker and easier than ever to find the best deal on fuel, wherever you are in NSW.

FuelCheck brings a new level of transparency to fuel pricing in NSW, giving you the chance to save 10, 20, sometimes even 40 cents a litre on your weekly fuel bill. Over a year, the savings available to FuelCheck users can amount to hundreds of dollars.

Visit the NSW Fair Trading website for more information.

Download the free FuelCheck app from the App Store or Google Play today and start saving.

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