Commissioner's Blog: Recipe for success for kitchen renovators
With Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
Is a new kitchen on your home improvement menu for 2017? You’ll need to get the ingredients and preparation right to avoid a recipe for disaster.
When hiring a kitchen renovator you really should shop around and obtain as many written quotes as possible to compare price and value. But first you need to select contenders for this major and important project.
Ask your friends, family and social media connections for recommendations and if they do suggest someone have a look at previous work done by that kitchen renovator. Consider industry-accredited tradespeople and those who have references you can review. Carefully choosing who to approach can save you a lot of time, money and trouble going forward.
With a new kitchen, it’s normal to work from a 3D design, which you might be able to create yourself. Alternatively, you may have to pay a small fee to the kitchen renovator, which is usually redeemable from the total cost of the job.
Get obligation-free quotes in writing, as opposed to verbally, 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 www.asic.gov.au. While you’re online have a look for reviews for that particular tradesperson or business. Also type the names into the search box at www.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.
Whoever you decide to go with, do NOT pay large amounts of money up front when you’re not receiving anything in return.
You’re likely looking at work in excess of $7,500, covered by WA’s Home Building Contracts Act. This means it is illegal for a contractor to take more than 6.5% deposit for the job. If they ask for more you should decline and speak to the Building Commission.
If you’re buying the materials, such as cabinets, bench tops and appliances and simply having the kitchen fitted, it may be under $7,500. If that’s the case we strongly suggest you don’t pay more than 10% deposit for work yet-to-be completed. If you pay too much up front there’s less incentive for the person to return.
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 cash or by bank transfer you don’t have this option.
To protect yourself get a written contract with an agreed timeframe for commencement and completion of work and any progress payments for materials delivered etc. Under the Australian Consumer Law it is an offence to accept payment for work and then not complete it as agreed, or within a reasonable timeframe.
Services must also be carried out with due care and skill. During kitchen renovations there are certain jobs, such as plumbing, gas and electrics, which 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.
When your kitchen renovation is underway, you should inspect the work and progress, so you can spot issues before they get out of hand. If a cabinet is installed in the wrong place or isn’t at the right height, refer back to your 3D design and seek a correction.
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, contact Consumer Protection by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 30 40 54. Contractual disputes for home building work valued at more than $7,500 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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