The regulator for building work in Western Australia is advising that state’s consumers to ensure they are aware of their rights amid a disturbingly high number of complaints.
In a new report, the Western Australian Commerce Department says the state’s Building Commission received 912 complaints in 2015/16 – down from 968 in the previous year but up from the two years prior to that.
According to the data, the Commission prosecuted 53 breaches, more than double the level four years ago.
Commission director of compliance Sandy Randal has told media outlets that the most significant challenge for the regulator revolves around ensuring home owners have adequate levels of awareness regarding their rights and responsibilities.
"If homeowners were better informed about their rights, many of the offences we see and the complaints that are lodged could be avoided," Randall told ABC News.
Randall said many of the complaints the Commission received came from home owners who were not able to provide contact information with regard to the builder in question other than a name and phone number.
She said home owners should ensure they have a full name for the person as well as an address.
It is also important to perform research on the builder and to ask them for references before engaging them for work.
Under Western Australian law, all building work on residential premises must be carried out by a registered building service contractor in cases where the value of the work is greater than $20,000 and a building permit is required.
The builder must also obtain home warranty insurance.
Of the 53 breaches, fines were levied against 22 individuals and five companies, whilst disciplinary action breaches were handed down in 26 other cases.
The Commission says the increase in prosecutions was not a reflection on behaviour in the sector but rather one of more proactive enforcement efforts.