MPs at Rappville Public School mural with residents affected by the Busbys Flat Road and Myall Creek Road bushfires, Nimbin RFS Deputy Senior Captain Charlie Cohen explains how RFS volunteer firefighters and local defenders saved properties and rainforest on Siddha Farm via Nimbin from the Mount Nardi National Park bushfire; with Drake RFS Brigade members who fought the Long Gully Road bushfire.
MPs at Rappville Public School mural with residents affected by the Busbys Flat Road and Myall Creek Road bushfires, Nimbin RFS Deputy Senior Captain Charlie Cohen explains how RFS volunteer firefighters and local defenders saved properties and rainforest on Siddha Farm via Nimbin from the Mount Nardi National Park bushfire; with Drake RFS Brigade members who fought the Long Gully Road bushfire.

Fire victims warned: Beware shonky builders

AFTER touring bushfire affected communities, NSW Labor Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Building Reform, Yasmin Catley has warned bushfire survivors to beware of shonky builders.

Ms Catley toured firegrounds at Rapville, Nimbin, Tenterfield and Drake with MP Janelle Saffin today to visit towns, homes and residents ravaged by fires as far back as August last year.

As bushfire threats decrease in these areas, Ms Catley said people who are currently rebuilding and thinking about the future need to be aware of the boost in demand for builders and tradespersons and the way this could distort the market.

"If the offer is too good, then it usually is," Ms Catley said in regards to recruiting tradespersons for rebuilding efforts.

"I just can't stress enough to call out shonky behaviour, the last thing you want is for vulnerable people to be taken advantage of."

"We do know that this behaviour happens in natural disasters, so its important to let Fair Trading NSW know if they have been a victim themselves or seen this behaviour."

With many regional and rural communities devastated by fires, Ms Catley is concerned out-of- town contractors may move to the area to pick up on trade and may not be completely qualified for the job.

"Seeing it first-hand in Rappville really brought it home."

Residents are being advised to look to local tradespeople first, check qualifications, have a full understanding of what work is being done in relation to cost, and to take their time making decisions that will affect their homes long term.

"Unfortunately, while many in our community, across the state, pull together to support the survivors of a natural disaster, some unscrupulous operators see a way to make a quick buck. Nobody who has been through a bushfire disaster should have to worry that they will be swindled during their rebuild."

While insurance companies often engage tradespeople or builders directly on behalf of policy holders, concern surrounds the uninsured or underinsured who may end up project-manage their own rebuild efforts and therefore be responsible for managing builders and tradespersons.

Taking upfront payments for insurance claims may also leave homeowners vulnerable if they don't check the credentials of their contractors.

"Anyone engaging a builder or licenced tradesperson can check the credentials of their contractor by going online to the Service NSW website. This crucial check takes mere minutes and could avoid the heartache and financial loss of dealing with a shonky builder or unlicensed tradie," Ms Catley added.

Ms Catley is advising people to double check licences and follow up where a builder has undertaken recent projects in residents local area.

NSW Service register check provides licence records from current and historical databases about builder and tradespersons licences.

Licence checking tools are available online for contractors and tradespersons.

You can also check to see where a builder has undertaken recent projects in your local area by using the Home Building Compensation Check tool.

"It is important to check the builder or tradesperson engaged has a current licence to ensure they have the appropriate qualifications for the work you want done and you have access to the consumer protections provided under the Home Building Act 1989 in the event of problems.,' listed on their website.

Cr Robery Mustow said he has not heard of the any shonky behaviour occurring in the Richmond Valley Council area.


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