Welcome to the 20th edition of Foundations, NSW Fair Trading’s enewsletter for the NSW home building industry.

We want to make sure Foundations is relevant and interesting to you, so please send us your comments, suggestions or topics you wish covered to foundations@services.nsw.gov.au.

Free seminars: Practical advice for home building licence holders

A builder receiving advice at an expoAre you looking for information about how to run a home building business or improve your existing business? NSW Fair Trading invites you and your business partners to attend a free information seminar in your region to learn more about business management skills, compliance with regulatory requirements, plumbing reforms, dispute resolution, home warranty insurance and administrative matters.

The Building Business Expo Program seminars run between 5 and 8pm and are a great opportunity for licensed contractors to learn more about contractual issues, protecting your assets, licensing issues and assistance available for small businesses in NSW. Contractors will also have the opportunity to speak to industry experts on a one-on-one basis. CPD points can be earned by attendees.

The building expos commence in late July and will run through to September. Expos will be held in Wollongong, Hornsby, Port Macquarie, Cessnock, South Sydney, Willoughby, Liverpool, Revesby and Central Coast.

To view the event schedule and to register go to the Event register on the NSW Fair Trading website or phone 13 32 20.

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4,000 people visit the NSW Fair Trading stand at the Sydney Home Show

Fair Trading stand at the 2013 Sydney Home ShowNSW Fair Trading was one of more than 250 exhibitors at this year’s Housing Industry Association (HIA) Sydney Home Show which was held between 16 and 19 May at Darling Harbour.  The exhibition for home owners and renovators focuses on renovation, building and design. Close to 4,000 traders and consumers visited the Fair Trading stall to ask questions about their rights and obligations around topics such as issuing licences, home warranty insurance, dispute resolution and owner-builder permits.

Running alongside the Home Show was the HIA’s Building & Business. The two days of Building & Business were filled with information sessions and Fair Trading officers gave a presentation and ran a workshop for small and medium sized businesses on the business needs of contractors in the building industry, both on-site and in the office.

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Penalty infringement notices (PIN) for plumbers in the Sydney, Illawarra, Blue Mountains and the Newcastle regions

Plumbers in the Sydney, Illawarra, Blue Mountains and Newcastle regions should be aware that NSW Fair Trading may issue plumbers and drainers with a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) if they fail to follow the direction of a Notice to Comply or commit an offence under the NSW Plumbing and Drainage Act 2011 and/or the NSW Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2012.

Payment of the PIN does not exclude the responsible person from the requirement to rectify the work, and further action may be taken if the work is not rectified.

The State Debt Recovery Office administers the PIN once it has been issued. The responsible person who receives the PIN can pay the penalty or may elect to challenge the notice in court.

For information on non-compliant work visit the Non-compliant plumbing and drainage work page on the NSW Fair Trading website.

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Fair Trading takes strong action against unscrupulous traders

Professional contractors and traders, as well as consumers, need protection against unscrupulous traders – they damage the reputation of hardworking members of industry and undermine confidence in the industry.

Prison sentence for qualifications forger

A year long investigation by NSW Fair Trading into forged trade qualifications has resulted in a prison sentence for a 41 year old Sydney man. On 15 March 2013 Mark Anthony Buhagiar was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for charges related to forged trade qualifications in the electrical, refrigeration and air conditioning categories.

Mr Buhagiar posed as a qualified assessor from VETASSESS, an accredited Registered Training Organisation that covers more than 160 trade qualifications in Australia and administers the Recognised Prior Learning scheme for migrants seeking to have their trade qualifications and experience recognised. Mr Buhagiar conducted sham assessments for migrants and subsequently issued fraudulent NSW TAFE, VETASSESS and Vocational Training Tribunal certificates for a fee.

It was a significant win for Fair Trading investigators who were first alerted to the fraudulent activity after detecting anomalies in the trade qualification documents submitted by one applicant. Investigators not only managed to identify further licence applications that had been submitted using fraudulent trade certificates but also managed to track the documents back to the original source. As a result not a single licence was granted to any of the 22 applicants using the fraudulent documents.

For further information go to the Media release page on the NSW Fair Trading website.

Fair Trading secures permanent restraint against conman Matthew Rixon

Serial fraudster Matthew Geoffrey Rixon has been permanently restrained from working in the home building industry.

Mr Rixon had been the subject of several public warnings as he continued to undertake residential building work under new company names, none of which are licensed by Fair Trading despite a number of outstanding fines.

On 17 April, the Supreme Court placed a permanent injunction on Mr Rixon, prohibiting him from conducting, being engaged in or being involved in any residential building work or specialist work. He is prohibited from acting as a sole trader or director of a company, as a trustee or beneficiary of a trust and is banned from entering into a partnership or engaging other persons to carry out work on his behalf in the building industry.

Mr Rixon is a menace to home owners and Fair Trading has worked relentlessly to put an end to his dishonest conduct. Mr Rixon’s modus operandi is to prey on vulnerable customers, demand excessive deposits for proposed work and then never turn up, or perform work to such a poor standard that costly rectifications are invariably required.

Should Mr Rixon breach the orders by undertaking proscribed building activities in NSW in the future he may be brought back before the court to face contempt of court charges which if proven could result in a custodial sentence.

For further information, including a list of companies that Mr Rixon has traded under go to the Media release page on the NSW Fair Trading website.
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New self assessment tool for owner-builder permits

Fair Trading has developed an easy to use self assessment tool that allows those building or supervising building work on their own property to determine whether they require an owner-builder permit, their eligibility and which application form they should use. The tool guides users through a series of short questions and takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.
The new tool places responsibility on prospective owner builders to seek their own advice and be honest in the information they provide. Should false or misleading information be provided owner-builders may be prosecuted under the Crimes Act with fines of $22 000. As for other licensed residential builders, owner-builders are subject to site inspections by  Fair Trading officers during construction to ensure they comply with legal requirements related to licensing, contracts and home warranty insurance.
Go to the Owner-builder self assessment tool on the Fair Trading website.

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Service NSW – making access to your government transactions easier

Service NSW will allow you to do more government transactions and access more services in the one location. Initially it will provide transactions available at Roads and Maritime Services, Fair Trading and Births, Deaths and Marriages.

From July this year Service NSW will launch a 24/7 phone line and new website and these will be supported by 18 new service centres which will begin opening in a staggered manner, also from July.

As a result of these changes, some Fair Trading Centres may temporarily close and be replaced by a Service NSW centre.

Initially three pilot sites will be rolled out in Kiama, Tweed Heads South and City South (Sydney). Other sites are due to open later this year in Chatswood, Dubbo, Gosford, Lismore, Liverpool, Newcastle, Orange, Parramatta, Penrith, Port Macquarie, Queanbeyan, Tamworth, Tweed Heads, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong and Wynyard (Sydney).

For information about Service NSW in your area, please visit the Service NSW website.

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Tell us your story

Has Fair Trading assisted you before? Perhaps we helped you resolve a difficult dispute, or you may have attended one of our Building Business Expos last year and come away with some useful tips and information that you were able to apply to your business. We are looking to develop some case studies and need some real examples from traders and consumers. If you have an example, we would love to hear from you, please send through a paragraph on your story to foundations@services.nsw.gov.au.

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New swimming pool laws

Late last year a number of new laws were introduced to improve the safety of children around swimming pools in NSW.

These changes include:

  • Swimming pool owners are required to register their swimming pool. Pool owners have until 29 October 2013 to register their pool.
  • From 29 October 2013 local councils will be carrying out inspection programs.
  • From 29 April 2014 all tourist, visitor and multi occupancy developments will require a valid compliance certificate if they have a swimming pool.
  • From 29 April 2014 a valid compliance certificate will be required to lease or sell any property with a swimming pool and will need to be attached to the sale contract or given to the tenant.

More information is available on the Division of Local Government website

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Free Work Health & Safety Seminars from the Master Painters Association NSW 

If you are a painter or decorator check out the free two-hour seminars run by the Master Painters Association NSW on the new Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations. The seminars will bring you up to speed on the new legislation and the changes to your obligations. Events are being held in Castle Hill, Tamworth and Broken Hill between 14 and 21 June.

To register visit the Seminars page on the Master Painters Association of NSW website.

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