OPINION: Homework cuts hassle from home renovations

Gwynneth Haywood, senior regional officer for Consumer ProtectionPilbara News
Young couple discussing construction plan
Camera IconYoung couple discussing construction plan Credit: Getty Images/Westend61

Is a new kitchen on your home improvement menu for 2017? You will need to get the ingredients and preparation right to avoid a recipe for disaster.

When hiring a kitchen renovator you should obtain as many written quotes as possible to compare price and value. But first you need to select contenders for the project.

Ask your friends, family and social media connections for recommendations and have a look at previous work done. Consider industry-accredited tradespeople and those who have references you can review.

It’s normal to work from a 3D design, which you can create yourself, or you may have to pay a small fee to the kitchen renovator, which is usually redeemable from the total cost of the job.

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Get obligation-free quotes in writing, so the total cost is clear. Make sure it’s a “quote” rather than an “estimate”, which can change as the job progresses.

Contact details, such as a physical address, should be on the quote as well as the ABN, which you can check at asic.gov.au. Look for reviews for that particular tradesperson or business. Also type the names into the search box at commerce.wa.gov.au to see if Consumer Protection, the Building Commission or Energy Safety have issued any warnings or taken any action against them.

Do not pay large amounts of money up front when you’re not receiving anything in return.

You are probably looking at work in excess of $7500, covered by WA’s Home Building Contracts Act. This means it is illegal for a contractor to take more than 6.5 per cent deposit for the job. If they ask for more you should decline and speak to the Building Commission.

If you’re buying the materials and simply having the kitchen fitted, it may be under $7500. If that’s the case we strongly suggest you don’t pay more than a 10 per cent deposit for work yet to be completed.

See whether you can use a credit card to pay to give yourself the possibility of seeking a charge back (transaction reversal) from your bank if you do not receive what you paid for. When you pay by cash or bank transfer, you don’t have this option.

Get a written contract with an agreed time frame for the start and completion of work and any progress payments for materials delivered etc.

Under Australian Consumer Law it is an offence to accept payment for work and then not complete it as agreed, or within a reasonable time frame.

During kitchen renovations there are certain jobs that need to be done by licensed tradespeople.

You have the right to ask for proof a tradesperson is licensed and can sometimes get a certificate for the work.

You should inspect the work and progress, so you can spot issues before they get out of hand.

If you have a problem with a service provided by a tradesperson, or have paid money and are facing an unacceptable wait for the job to be finished, email consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or call 1300 30 40 54.

Contractual disputes for home building work valued at more than $7500 will be referred to our colleagues at the Building Commission (1300 489 099) along with complaints about faulty or unsatisfactory home building work, irrespective of value.

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