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Standard fact sheet.

High front gutters 

High fronted gutters are popular among consumers as they hide the lower edge of tiles or roof cladding and have been in widespread use across Australia for almost 20 years.

Like all building products gutters should be properly designed and installed correctly to fully comply with laws and standards.

The builder or guttering installer is responsible for ensuring that the gutter system is fully compliant with NSW laws and Australian standards.

Key considerations are that the guttering system has sufficient drainage, downpipes and adequate overflow measures for the expected rainfall in the area. Any guttering, including high fronted guttering, should not, when overflowing, allow water to enter the walls or internal structure of a home.

High Front Guttering Advisory Committee Report 

In late 2010 the High Front Guttering Advisory Committee was established under the Fair Trading Act 1987 to investigate concerns that high front guttering products and installation techniques may be defective and causing damage to residential properties.

The Committee examined evidence in relation to high front guttering collected by NSW Fair Trading, and conducted meetings with relevant government agencies, manufacturers, installers and industry stakeholders.

The report of the expert High Front Guttering Advisory Committee has been released and is available on the NSW Fair Trading website.

The report found there was ‘no evidence of a systemic problem concerning high fronted guttering’.

The Committee has, however, made a number of recommendations relating to managing overflow, consistency and clarification of standards, building certification, and industry skills, education and training.

Fair Trading will work with government and industry to implement these recommendations.

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Has the situation changed since the report was completed? 

The Committee noted that Fair Trading has not received significant numbers of complaints about building defects related to high front gutters. That remains the case today.

The Insurance Council of Australia provided advice to the Committee late last year that in relation to these gutters 'no overall trend has been raised as an issue'. Recent advice from the ICA is that this is still the case.

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Consumer checklist 

There are a few simple things you can do to reassure yourself about your guttering.

How can I tell if I might have a problem with my high-front guttering? 

Signs to look for include:

  • Outside the house - water marking, stains or damp patches on the eaves or exterior walls
  • Inside the house - water marking, stains or damp patches on internal perimeter walls.

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What should I do if I think I have a guttering problem? 

This depends on how long ago the guttering was installed to your home.

If the guttering was installed less than 6 years ago (7 if the contract was entered into prior to 1 February 2012) you should talk to the builder, plumber or roof plumber that did the work.

Ask them to inspect the work. They are required by law to fix it if it is defective. You are protected by a statutory warranty as home building work, including guttering and roof plumbing, is covered by this warranty for a period of 6 years from the date that the work was completed for major defects and 2 years from the completion date for all other defects. For information on defects refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.

If the guttering was installed more than 6 years ago (7 years if entered into prior to 1 February 2012) and you have concerns your property may be at risk of water damage relating to guttering or roof plumbing, you may consider engaging a builder or building consultant to provide advice and a report.

The major industry associations, the Master Builders Association and the Housing Industry Association, can assist consumers to find builders and building consultants. If the expert advice indicates that you have a problem, you will need to engage a builder, plumber or roof plumber to fix the problem at your own expense.

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What do I do if my builder, plumber or roof plumber is no longer around? 

If the work was carried out less than 6 years ago, you may be able to lodge a home warranty insurance claim.

Where the value of the work including labour and materials exceeds $20,000 ($12,000 where the contract was entered into prior to 1 February 2012) you should have been provided with an insurance certificate under the Home Building Compensation Fund (previously called Home Warranty Insurance). If you were not given proof of insurance under the fund you should contact Fair Trading.

Contact your insurer under the Fund to find out more about your insurance cover.

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How do I know my contractor was properly licensed to do the work? 

Builders, plumbers and roof plumbers installing guttering systems must be licensed. You can check licence details on the Fair Trading website.

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What do I do if my builder or roof plumber refuses to come back to fix my guttering? 

If you cannot resolve a problem with your builder, plumber or roof plumber you can make a complaint to Fair Trading if the work is within the statutory warranty period. Fair Trading provides a free dispute resolution service and can issue rectification orders to the builder or roof plumber where appropriate. Find out more on the Resolving building disputes page.

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Can anyone else help with a building dispute? 

If a dispute cannot be resolved between a consumer and builder, plumber or roof plumber or with Fair Trading’s dispute resolution assistance then either party may consider lodging an application with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

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