Baulkham Hills State Liberal MP David Elliott today welcomed the start of new home building laws offering greater protection to NSW consumers from shoddy construction work.
“New laws to protect NSW consumers from poor workmanship are now in place across the State,” Mr Elliott said.
“Anyone who continues to carry out unlicensed construction work or don’t have the necessary insurance now face up to a year behind bars.
“Licence eligibility has been tightened to stamp out illegal ‘phoenixing’, which is where a company closes down leaving large unpaid debts, only to resurface as a different company trading under a different name.
“Minor residential work worth under $5,000 can now be carried out without a licence to reduce ‘red tape’ for consumers who want to get minor work done around their properties.
“Specialist work such as plumbing, electrical and air conditioning will still need a licence regardless of the cost of work.
“Consumers and builders can also continue to enter into a written contract for work less than $5,000, if they wish.
“The previous threshold was $1,000.
“It is the first time since 2004 that the threshold has been changed, despite the increase of cost over time of building work and materials.
This change also brings NSW broadly in line with other jurisdictions, such as Victoria, WA and Tasmania, which already have a threshold of $5,000 or more.
“It is important to emphasise that consumers are protected by guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which is enforced by NSW Fair Trading and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,” Mr Elliott said.
“Under the ACL, a consumer can request an itemised bill outlining prices, labour hours, cost and use of materials. “The builder must give the consumer the itemised bill, within seven days of the request, or face fines of up to $15,000 for a company and $3000 for an individual.”
A key change in the new legislation is the recognition, for the first time, of fire safety systems and waterproofing as major elements in a building’s structure.
“Consumers are receiving the added protection of major defects in fire safety systems and waterproofing being covered by six years statutory warranty, and those major defects that often result in major damage to homes and huge costs to home owners,” Mr Elliott said.
“These laws have been two years in the making and have involved extensive community and industry consultation to deliver changes that respond to the changing landscape of the residential building market.
“For the industry, these measures will reduce unnecessary red tape, and offer clearer legal definitions, particularly in relation to defects, helping to ensure fewer disputes between homeowners and builders.
“If home owners or builders have any questions about the new laws, they can contact NSW Fair Trading for assistance on 13 32 20,’’ Mr Elliott said.
Some parts of the Amendment Act will come into effect on 1 March 2015, giving builders and industry time to make the transition to new requirements.
These changes will require all contracts for work over $20,000 to include a progress payment schedule in the contract which accurately reflects the work done and materials bought.
For detailed changes on new Home Building Act laws, visit NSW Fair Trading at: