Renovation

Unlicensed builder fined $15k highlights the need for hiring qualified tradespeople

By Sasha Karen
A pained construction worker

A recent case where an unlicensed builder was fined over $15,000 due to delivering work of a poor quality stresses the point that investors should be hiring fully licensed tradespeople when undergoing renovations.

In the Adelaide Magistrates Court, Paul Arneric of Clarence Park admitted to breaching the Australian Consumer Law and the Building Work Contractors Act for both not doing work when paid and performing substandard work.

In the first instance, the builder was asked to install kitchen equipment and accepted a $3,800 deposit and a key to the home, where he took a range hood to measure. The court was told the range hood was never returned, work never begun, and when a compulsory conciliation conference was organised by Consumer and Business Services, he never attended.

The builder was also asked to repair water damage to an investment property and received $800 as a deposit. The work that was performed, according to the court, was poor.

As a result, Mr Arneric was fined a combined total of $15,569; the initial fine was $10,600, he was ordered to pay $800 in prosecution fees and paid the victims $4,169 in compensation costs.

This is not the first time that an unlicensed builder has taken advantage of home owners and investors, and according to Cherie Barber of Renovating For Profit, it certainly will not be the last time either.

Looking at the renovation industry, she sees the current landscape as a real issue, with a real need for strong government legislation.

“There are no regulations that really sort of cover that group, and we know there’s a lot of people who are professionally renovating, we know that there’s a lot of renovations going on,” Ms Barber said.

“I believe the government should have [four] tiers of construction work. They should have low to no-risk work, minor risk, moderate risk, high-risk work, and I believe the planning laws should be suited towards both categories of work.

“For example, if you want to plant plants in your house, that’s low to no risk. You can’t kill yourself planting a plant, and that should fall under exempt works, where the average Australian doesn’t require any planning approval, they don’t require a builder.”

Following better defined classifications, implementing national qualifications for design and renovation is another aspect that Ms Barber would like to see improve.

“I’m hoping that new qualifications for renovators will result in laws stemming from those qualifications, or that’s what I’m personally hoping to see, so the design community, the renovation communities can say: ‘Well, I've got this certificate’, or ‘I've got this diploma’,” she said.

“It seems at the moment any Tom, Dick and Harry can call themselves an experienced renovator and then project manage other people’s houses. It is illegal in a lot of states to do that, unless you have a licensed builder involved, that’s not illegal.”

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Unlicensed builder fined $15k highlights the need for hiring qualified tradespeople
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