Perth builder fined $12,000: Department of Commerce

A builer in Perth, Antoun Garcia (trading as High Tech Construction), has been prosecuted by the Building Commissioner after he failed to meet a number of responsibilities under a home building contract.

On 28 November 2013, Garcia, who did not appear, was found guilty of three charges at Armadale Magistrates Court, and ordered to pay $12,000 in fines and $621.15 in court costs.

The offences were under the Home Building Contracts Act 1991, relating to a verbal contract. This verbal contract was entered into in September 2011 and related to $32,080 work required on a Camillo property from that date until September 2012.

The work included the supply and construction of a patio and games room.

The three charges were:

- Failing to ensure the contract was in writing, dated and signed by himself and the owner.

- Providing an entitlement for the builder to receive a deposit of more than 6.5% of the total, prior to commencement of the work.

- Performing the work without a home indemnity insurance.

Garcia had indicated a requirement for a 20% deposit, and a partially written, partially verbal, contract was created when the owner accepted the quote.

Building Commissioner Peter Gow said that the minimum requirements for contracts are clearly set out in the Home Building Contracts Act for work valued between $7,500 and $500,000.

“Consumers can protect themselves by asking for a written contract, ensuring they understand the terms and conditions before signing it, and checking they are not being asked to pay a deposit of more than 6.5% of a home building contract valued within the specified price range," said Gow.

“The Act is in place for a good reason; it protects both the home owner and persons undertaking home building and associated work."

Similarly, Roleystone company Howe WA Pty Ltd (trading as Total Roof Care) and director Stephen Howe, have also been prosecuted for failing to meet their responsibilities under a home building contract.

Found guilty of four charges at the Armadale Magistrates Court on 28 November 2013, the company was ordered to pay fines of $3,750 and costs totalling $351.15. As an individual, he was found to have committed the same offences and was subsequently ordered to pay $2,450 in fines and $351.15 in court costs.

The charges related to two verbal contracts in July and November 2011, for work at a Mount Richon property - with the first contract to the value of $19,950 and the second to $19,999.99. The former was for the supply and installation of a replacement roof, downpipes and gutters, while the second was for replacing a patio with a timber one.

The Department of Commerce notes that the charges against the company were:

  1. Failing to ensure the home building work contract was in writing and dated and signed by the builder and owner;
  2. Demanding to receive a deposit of more than 6.5% of the total amount payable before the commencement of the home building work; and
  3. Failing to provide the owner with the written documentation required for a contract variation.

After the owner accepted the first quote, as a verbal contract, they were told additional items would be needed for reroofing but that they would avoid putting these in a contract to keep the value under $20,000. Howe also requested a 50% deposit of the total amount payable for the second contract as a deposit.

jduke@propertyobserver.com.au

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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