SA reviews building laws to tackle rogue traders and dodgy builders 

It will be the most significant review of the South Australian laws governing construction in 20 years, with Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs, Andrea Michaels, promising to deliver a “comprehensive look” at the issues that have been consistently voiced by consumers in recent years.

To ramp up protections for consumers, the state is reportedly considering:

– Developing an easier dispute resolution process for consumers and reducing the costs of dispute resolution for all parties.

– The introduction of a permit system for owner-builders to prevent unlicensed builders posing as owner-builders.

– Requiring building inspectors to be registered due to concerns about unqualified inspectors providing shoddy reports.

– Considering whether developers should be regulated to ensure sanctions can be issued where they have failed to fulfil their obligations.

– Ensuring consumers are adequately protected where builders may seek to exploit sunset provisions in contracts.

– Whether tougher penalties and new categories of offending are needed for breaches.

– If mandatory Continuing Professional Development schemes should be introduced for builders, electricians and plumbers.

A separate review of the state’s building indemnity insurance is being concurrently managed by the South Australian Treasurer and Michaels, with reforms out of the two expected to enact complementary measures to protect consumers.

Michaels said that the state intends not only to strengthen consumer rights in the sector but also to improve things on the industry side by ensuring that tradespeople are up-to-date with best practice.

“South Australians rely on builders and tradies, whether it be for minor installations or repairs through to significant renovations and major building projects like building a new home. It’s crucial that strong protections are in place to protect people when they are making these significant investments,” Michaels said.

“This review will ultimately deliver reforms that keep tradespeople at the top of their game and ensure that consumers have confidence in the industry,” she added.

Will Frogley, chief executive of Master Builders SA, said that the industry is pleased South Australia is taking concerns in the sector seriously.

“Some of the changes being considered in this review have been put forward by Master Builders SA. I thank Minister Michaels and the Malinauskas government for continuing to listen to the industry,” he said.

Frogley stressed the need to strike the right balance between keeping consumers safe while building or renovating, and ensuring that any changes are workable for the professionals that they will impact.

“It’s important this review leads to changes which better protect consumers from the very small minority of builders and tradies who do the wrong thing, without over burdening the thousands of brilliant businesses across SA with too much regulation”.

Stephen Knight, executive director of the South Australia chapter of the Housing Institute of Australia, agreed noting that the body supports bringing in continuing education mandates for certain trades.

“HIA sees continuing professional development as a critical part of builders maintaining their industry knowledge as building processes change and new regulations are introduced,” he said.


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