31/08/2016 - 14:39

Builders fined for fraud, unfinished work

31/08/2016 - 14:39

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Two Perth-based builders have been denied registration and another has been fined, in a busy week for Western Australia’s Building Commission.

Two Perth-based builders have been denied registration and another has been fined, in a busy week for Western Australia’s Building Commission.

The Building Commission today announced it had refused the renewal of Kameleon Homes sole trader Jeffrey West’s builders' registration, while it also committed to pursue disciplinary action against the Wangara-based builder through the State Administrative Tribunal.

Kameleon Homes attracted headlines earlier this year after complaints by customers emerged on social media, with allegations of unfinished and unsatisfactory work making up the majority of the grievances.

A Facebook group has also been set up by tradespeople which had been contracted by Kameleon Homes, warning others over alleged non-payment for services.

Building Commissioner Peter Gow said he was unable to provide specific details of the commission’s investigation into Kameleon Homes, but urged consumers to avoid engaging his services.

“The Building Services board does not make a decision to refuse the renewal of a builder’s registration lightly and the protection of consumers who engage builders’ services is paramount,” Mr Gow said.

“In considering the Building Commission’s investigation into Mr West’s conduct, the Board could not be satisfied that he met the requirements to be a registered builder and that consumer interests would be adequately protected if his registration was renewed."

Also today, the Building Commission said Willeton-based builder Build West had been fined $5,000, and its director Shaun Middleton fined $2,500, for negligent conduct and failing to properly manage and supervise its work.

The fines stemmed from works provided at properties in Churchlands and Riverton between 2013 and 2015.

The Building Commission said Build West demanded deposits before providing proof of home indemnity insurance on both jobs, asked for progress payments that didn’t appear to be genuine and caryring out works contrary to plans and not in line with the National Construction Code.

Mr Middleton’s fine related to the Riverton site, and was levied because of works that did not meet the code and were not in accordance with approved building plans.

“Build West Pty Ltd and Mr Middleton’s negligent conduct and failure to ensure the work was properly managed and supervised put the home owners’ interests and safety at risk,” Mr Gow said.

Build West’s fines followed the Building Commission yesterday fining Northbridge-based builder Joseph Merenda $5,000, and rejecting his application to renew his building licence.

Mr Merenda, who was the sole director of Mi Constructions prior to its collapse in 2014, had previously been fined $13,500 by the SAT in 2006, for negligent and fraudulent conduct in relation to building services.

Mi Constructions owed creditors around $7 million at the time of its collapse.

Yesterday’s fine was for fraudulent and misleading conduct and failing to comply with orders from the Building Commission in the construction of two double storey townhouses in Doubleview in 2009.

The commission said Mr Merenda entered into a contract with an inflated price to allow the owners to obtain additional finance.

“Mr Merenda’s conduct in relation to the Doubleview property and as sole director of MI Constructions in general demonstrates that there may be an ongoing risk to consumers and other third parties should he maintain his registration as a building practitioner,” Mr Gow said.

“The board’s fine and refusal to renew Mr Merenda’s registration is a reminder to builders who fail to maintain proper standards or who act inappropriately that significant penalties apply.”

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