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Residential Focus

22 April 2020

#Property & Real Estate

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Residential Focus

Waived and discounted licence fees for new NSW contractor licences – COVID-19 economic stimulus package

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many sub-contractors in the residential sector are either not aware that they need a licence or don’t bother renewing it beyond its first expiry.

There is no better time to address these compliance issues given that, under the NSW Government’s economic stimulus package for COVID-19, the fees for new one year licences have been waived and the fees for three year licences have been discounted.

The fee relief applies from 15 April 2020 to 14 April 2021 for licences and from 20 April 2020 to 19 April 2021 for certificates.

With the three year fee for a contractor licence at $832/$605 and a trade or specialist licence at $561/$315 (corporation or partnership/individual rate in each instance), the cost of compliance is a small price to pay to avoid a variety of fines or implications under the Act such as:

  • a maximum fine of $110,000 or $22,000 for contracting for residential building work without a licence (for the first offence) (s.4 HBA)
  • the prospect of not being entitled to damages or to enforce any other remedy in respect of a breach of the contract committed by any other party to the contract, and the contract being unenforceable (s.10 HBA)
  • a maximum fine of $110,000 or $22,000 for doing residential building work without a licence (s.12 HBA).

Not only that, but it’s a good time for head contractors to review the sub-contractors on their books and foster a culture of compliance, given that head contractors who contract to do residential building work are exposed to fines in the same amounts where they contract with an unlicensed person to do the work or part of the work.

Author: Christine Jones

In the media

Master Builders Australia survey shows orders have "fallen off a cliff"
A survey of builders and tradies around the country has found new work could run out in the next few months if orders don't pick up, with the home building sector is being hit especially hard (17 April 2020).  More...

MBA: Survey Warns Of Crisis Facing Building Industry - Impact of Covid-19
Survey finds Master Builders members across all sectors having are losing forward pipelines of work. At risk is the viability of nearly 400,000 building and construction businesses, the jobs of 1.2 million Australians and the industry’s capacity to aid the economic recovery (17 April 2020).  More...

Sydney ranked as Australia’s most expensive city to build in
Sydney has again been deemed Australia’s most expensive city for construction, according to the International Construction Costs 2020 report by design and consultancy organisation, Arcadis. Brisbane (38), Melbourne (41) and Perth (50) all came in within the top 50 most expensive cities for construction (16 April 2020).  More...

HIA: Home Building Starts Rose in the December Quarter
There was a small increase in the number of new homes that commenced construction in the December quarter to bring the total number of new homes that commenced construction in 2019 to 174,246 (15 April 2020).  More...

MBA: Australia's home builders are open for business
Clients can have confidence that they can proceed with residential building work and do the right thing to slow the spread of Covid-19 (15 April 2020).  More...

ePlanning mandate a big win for homeowners
Homeowners in metropolitan Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast and Illawarra will be able to lodge DAs online in the comfort of their homes, and see a reduction in assessment times, with the NSW Government mandating ePlanning across 42 councils from 1 July 2020 (17 April 2020).  More...

Fast-tracked planning system to support NSW economy
The New South Wales Government will cut red tape and fast-track planning processes through an acceleration program which is likely to have important impacts on consent authorities and proponents of development. The program’s ambition is to keep construction booming in NSW to support the state’s economic recovery (15 April 2020).  More...

Pathway forward for contributions reform
The NSW Government has outlined its plan to reform developer levies and contributions to unlock new housing supply, deliver vital community infrastructure and boost investment in NSW (15 April 2020).  More...

Slashed licence fees a big win for businesses
Up to 200,000 licence holders operating across the trades and construction sectors will not have to pay up to $50 million worth of licence fees, thanks to the NSW Government (15 April 2020).  More...

Dodgy builders warned against exploiting coronavirus construction push
NSW government says plans are in place to ensure no "lessening of standards" in the sector while seeking to push through development (15 April 2020).  More...

Extended construction hours to keep work going during COVID-19
The New South Wales Government has introduced extended operating hours for construction sites to support the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, with sites now able to operate on weekends and public holidays (08 April 2020).  More...

Published - articles, papers, reports

Australian Bureau of Statistics
15 April 2020 Building Activity, Australia, Dec 2019 (cat no. 8752.0)

Practice and courts

ABCB: COVID-19: Supplying and installing bidet products
The ACCC has issued an alert on its Product Safety Australia website concerning the supply and installation of bidet products (09 April 2020).  More...


Property Development industry welcomes extension of operating hours on construction sites
April 2, 2020 - Decision of the NSW Minister for Planning, Hon Rob Stokes MP, to extend the hours of operation for the construction sector to include weekends and public holidays.  More...

Building Information Modelling (BIM) for WHS management
What is the best practice and implications of using BIM in WHS management? Timeline of project; Project completion: Mid 2021.  More...


Scuderi v Corfu Pools Pty Ltd [2020] NSWCATAP 62
APPEALS - home building - swimming pool paving-work done by both homeowners and builder – cause of defects unclear – alleged errors of fact – decision claimed to be against the weight of the evidence - new evidence – leave to appeal refused 

Robust Builders Pty Ltd v Bhardwaj (No 2) [2020] NSWCATAP 61
COSTS- Costs of appeal from Consumer and Commercial Division- costs order- refusal to order costs on indemnity basis.

Hanson v Metricon Homes Pty Ltd [2020] NSWSC 401
CIVIL LAW – building dispute – money owed on contract – cross-claim – defence – shoddy building work – proceedings before NCAT – procedural fairness – where owners abandon cross-claim – failure to deal with defence – unrepresented litigants – where lawyer seeks leave to withdraw on day of hearing – hearing did not start well – confusion over reason lawyer withdrew – refusal of adjournment – “stage fright” – late service of joint expert report – contradictory case management orders – whether owners denied opportunity to challenge joint expert – internal appeal – whether Appeal Panel erred in failing to find denial of procedural fairness 

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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