Is your builder ‘fit and proper’: the weaknesses of the home building licensing scheme in NSW

16 May 2018

The NSW Ombudsman, Michael Barnes, tabled a report in Parliament today following his investigation into Fair Trading’s Home Building Service.

Our investigation found that there were serious and systemic issues with both the public register and the home building licensing system. The information that Fair Trading records on the public register does not have sufficient detail and contemporaneous information to make it fit for purpose, that is, to provide consumer protection and help stop the actions of unscrupulous builders.

Members of the public have a right to expect a high standard and robust checking procedures by regulatory agencies whose function is to protect the public. In relation to building regulation, this means the public should be able to rely on the accuracy and completeness of the information available on the public register.
Our report makes a range of recommendations, including making changes to the public register; improving intelligence sharing to assist Fair Trading’s licence assessment processes; and making changes to internal guidance for staff.

The Commissioner for Fair Trading and the responsible Minister have indicated that the recommendations arising from the report were appropriate, but requested that our office refine the wording of some of the recommendations in line with work that Fair Trading has already commenced to enhance its licensing database. The Ombudsman agreed to this request.

Read the report.
Read the media release.

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