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13 November 2015

The state’s consumer watchdog is reminding tradespeople to ensure they are working to their relevant licence conditions after a Port Augusta man was found completing plumbing work he was not licensed to do.

Inspectors from the Office of the Technical Regulator and Consumer and Business Services (CBS) found John Gerlach (trading as Gerlach Home Improvements) was likely to have breached the Plumbers, Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995 for carrying out a bathroom renovation at a residential property without holding an appropriate licence.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, George Kamencak, said while Gerlach is currently registered by CBS to contract for building services, his licence was issued with limited conditions.

“When a tradesperson in South Australia applies for a Building Work Contractor’s licence, the licence is granted with conditions that outline the scope of work they are qualified to undertake,” he said.

“Building work can be grouped by many different areas of expertise, however any tradesperson wanting to perform a type of plumbing work is required to be registered under the Plumbers, Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995.

“Gerlach allegedly advertised Gerlach Home Improvements extensively online and promoted his business as specialising in bathroom, ensuite, laundry and kitchen renovations, which was a concern as his licence conditions do not include plumbing work.”

Under the Building Work Contractors Act 1995, a builder working with specific conditions must not accept or undertake work outside of these conditions.

In response to the concerns raised by CBS, Gerlach agreed to enter into an Assurance that was accepted by the Commissioner of Consumer Affairs.

A written Assurance is a formal undertaking that in certain circumstances, may be used in place of enforcement action such as prosecution or disciplinary action. A trader who fails to comply with an Assurance could be liable to prosecution.

Mr Kamencak said the Assurance states Gerlach will operate within the strict provisions of his builders licence whilst familiarising himself with his obligations and responsibilities in relation to the Act.

“In addition, he has agreed to not tender for, or sub-contract for, any works that involve renovations to bathrooms, ensuites, laundries or kitchens without being appropriately licensed, and remove any advertising promoting these services.

“To avoid hiring a tradesperson that may not be qualified to complete the work, consumers are encouraged to research prospective tradespeople and ask for a tradesperson’s licence card, which includes photo ID, and cross-check the licence number on the  CBS online contractor’s register.”

Consumers can report concerns about suspected unlicensed builders and tradespeople by contacting CBS on 131 882 or visit www.cbs.sa.gov.au.