Every year Fair Trading receives more than 200 complaints and enquiries about unlicensed home building tradespeople.
In NSW, a tradesperson must be licensed to do home building work over $5,000. In addition, a tradesperson must also be licensed to carry out any electrical, plumbing, gas fitting, refrigeration and air conditioning work regardless of the price.
Unlicensed work causes a great deal of detriment to the industry and it leaves consumers without proper protection if things go wrong.
In 2013, Fair Trading commissioned market research into consumer behaviours when they hire a tradesperson. The research was conducted by the independent research company Insight and Reason which surveyed 1,000 NSW home owners who had used a tradesperson in the past 18 months.
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Below are some of the key findings for consumers and tradespeople.
Almost all home owners know that electricians, plumbers and gas-fitters need a licence to operate in NSW, although fewer home owners are aware that plasterers, stonemasons, floor-tilers and fencers also need a licence.
83% of home owners say licensing is 'very important' or 'essential'; while 12% of home owners say it is 'not at all important' or 'not really important'.
Three quarters of home owners claim to check a tradesperson's licence details before they hire, but only 14% of those go to the Fair Trading's website to check. Instead they look out for a licence number in an advertisement or on the side of a van. Of all the 1,000 people surveyed, only 10% went to the NSW Fair Trading website to check.
88% of home owners are satisfied with the most recent work carried out by tradespeople, although 73% of respondents still think there is lot of ‘shonky’ work these days.
Word of mouth is the most common source of information used to find a tradesperson with 44% of home owners using this method. This is followed by repeat use of a tradesperson used in the past (36%). Around a quarter of home owners will use Google or the local newspaper to find a tradesperson.
Around three quarters of home owners say that a business’ reputation is particularly important when they choose a tradesperson. Around 50% of home owners say it is also important that the business is local. The business size, history and website are of less importance.
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