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Watch out for Unlicensed Builders


Building problemsA few years back a friend who lived in the Hunter Region found a ‘builder’ advertised in a local paper and gave him a call to discuss doing some renovation projects around the home. The ‘builder’ had a licence number listed in the ad so everything appeared to be legitimate and the quoted price seemed good. The ‘builder’ came across friendly and he seemed professional. Eager to get the renovation work started the owner employed the ‘builder’ for several jobs around his home.

The first job of replacing weatherboards on the outside of his home went to plan and the materials were already supplied so once the job was finished he paid the money to the ‘builder’ and felt confident organising the next job. The next project was a small bathroom. The quoted price from the ‘builder’ seemed much more reasonable than others and he seemed to know what he was talking about so the owner gave the go ahead to start. From the very beginning the bathroom renovation project did not go to plan and although the client was not experienced in home building, he questioned the way the renovation was taking place, but he was always assured that everything was going smoothly and being built within current standards. The timeframe blew out and the client was left without a functioning bathroom in his house for almost one month. Being a small bathroom the job was only expected to take 1 week to complete but the ‘builder’ became very unreliable. The ‘builder’ had asked for three-quarters of the money in the first two days of the project and the client happily paid thinking the job would be complete by the end of the week – this turned out to be a big mistake. When the owner started questioning the workmanship and asked for the tiling issues to be rectified the ‘builder’ stopped answering his phone calls which left the home owner with a useless, incomplete bathroom.

The owner had to pay to have the entire cement bed removed and replaced because the area did not have the correct fall and the water could not drain away. This required new tiling and waterproofing replacement costs. The wall tiling was carried out so poorly that the result was huge grout lines of up to 2cm wide in places and uneven tiles – some tiles fell off because the glue mix did not stick properly.

So how did this bathroom renovation go horribly wrong you might ask?  Well as it turns out the ‘builder’ was NOT a licensed builder at all, in fact he didn’t have a NSW Fair Trading Contractor licence and there was no record of the individual ever being on their system. The contractor licence number printed in the local newspaper was a made up number and although it appeared to resemble the correct format, it was in fact, fake. When Fair Trading were informed of the dodgy ‘builder’ they had no way of tracking down the person because he had simply changed his phone number, stopped advertising in the local paper and was not recorded anywhere on the NSW Fair Trading register.

The important message for home owners to take from of this story is to always take a few minutes to jump online and check that the contractor you are intending to use is licensed with NSW Fair Trading Register using Home Building Licence Check. Take note of their trading history to see if the company/individual has had previous fines or licence suspensions. Build Local conducts checks to ensure that any builder who advertises their services on our directory is appropriately licenced at the time of joining.

Be smart and do your homework first to avoid accidently hiring unlicensed builders.

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November 21, 2014 |

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