Sydney Tradespeople Breeze through Watchdog Audit

Friday, April 11th, 2014
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More than 98 percent of construction tradespeople working on new residential buildings and home renovation projects in Western Sydney have demonstrated proper and adequate compliance with their obligations, a recent audit by the consumer watchdog in New South Wales has found.

In an audit of 270 people across more than 120 sites, inspectors from Fair Trading uncovered only five breaches of home building and associated legislation, Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres said earlier this week.

Conducted between March 24 and 28, ‘Operation Nepean’ involved unannounced building inspections within the area bounded by Cambridge Park in the north, Westlink M7 in the east, Glenmore Park in the south and the Nepean River in the west. Tradespeople going under the microscope included plasterers, bricklayers, plumbers, concreters, electricians, carpenters, tilers and painters.

Breaches which were detected included carrying out (or seeking to carry out) residential building work without a license or sub-contracting out work to individuals who did not carry appropriate licenses for the task in question.

Fines totalling $45,000 were issued for the breaches.

Ayres welcomed the results, saying they showed the majority of tradespeople are doing the right thing.

“This is an excellent result for western Sydney and signals to the marketplace that growth in the sector is being matched with regulatory compliance,” he said, adding that unannounced site inspections will continue throughout the year.

Master Builders Association executive director Brian Seidler agreed.

“It’s great to see tradespeople understanding the importance of being licensed and having their credentials in order if they want to work in the building industry,” he said. “Results like this show consumers are getting good protection and the industry as a whole is protecting its good name.”

Despite the positive results, however, Fair Trading warns some problems in parts of the state remain, with unscrupulous ’travelling conmen’ who make unsolicited offers to perform renovation or restoration work continuing to be a particular area of ongoing concern.

Last month, Central Coast builder Craig Winters was ordered to pay $13,330 compensation to five consumers in Wallsend, Woodrising, Charlestown, Edgeworth and Thornton as well as $20,645 in fines and penalties over contracts he entered into regarding the supply of new kitchens between June 26 and November 22 in 2012.

Despite accepting deposits as high as $5,000, none of the kitchens were ever delivered and Winters had never held a builder or tradesperson license in New South Wales.

Meanwhile, the agency warns separate organised gangs believed to be from Ireland and England have been seen in the Newcastle and surrounding area and the Albury/Wodonga area respectively. The former has been offering line marking for car parks and the latter discount bitumen work, and both have been charging excessive prices for shoddy work.

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