NSW passes building licence law after Sydney mum injured by defective house

A law has changed in NSW to crack down on builders after a mum-of-two claimed a construction company’s defective work caused her to suffer “physical harm”.

Earlier this month, news.com.au reported on 36-year-old Alexandra Forwood, who paid $128,000 to a licensed builder called Adel Keir, of Building Renovation Centre, to renovate her home in southwest Sydney.

But the simple renovation job turned into a disaster when she was left with 28 defects in her newly renovated home, according to an independent building report, which recommended the entire structure be torn down and started again from scratch.

Mr Keir has denied the defects are major and says they can all be easily fixed.

One of the errors involved stairs of “varying widths” which Ms Forwood alleges caused her to trip and aggravated a pre-existing spinal cord injury.

“It was at night, the lights were on, I was trying to get down the stairs and I slipped (because) one stair is higher than the other one,” Ms Forwood told news.com.au. “I ended up in hospital.”

After NSW Fair Trading was alerted to Ms Forwood’s case, the building company – Building Renovation Centre – had its licence revoked. However, Mr Keir was able to continue operating and started a new building firm which allowed him to escape bad reviews.

The NSW government has since changed the law, which will mean that a building firm’s licenced supervisor will automatically lose their licence if the company itself has its licence suspended or terminated. Mr Keir’s licence has since been revoked.

Want to stream your news? Flash lets you stream 25+ news channels in 1 place. New to Flash? Try 1 month free. Offer available for a limited time only >

Medical records shared with news.com.au state that Ms Forwood’s fall “exacerbated” her pre-existing degenerative spine condition and that the new injury caused “acute pain” in her upper and lower back.

Forwood was outraged to learn that in March, the same time she allegedly exacerbated her pre-existing spinal injury from the fall, Keir’s building licence was up for review and NSW Fair Trading renewed it.

She was also horrified to discover that Keir had owned two other failed companies with 39 compensation claims taken out against them for defective works.

The insurance claims added up to $2.33 million to cover defective construction, according to the Public Register. Those building companies have since gone into liquidation and had their licences terminated.

Abigail Boyd, Greens NSW MP, pushed for changes to NSW’s building regulations, which came into effect the same day the news.com.au article was published.

The Building and Other Fair Trading Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 was agreed to with no objections on November 8 in the NSW Legislative Council.

During the second reading speech of the amended bill, Ms Boyd said: “Those familiar with the case of Alexandra Forwood would know the issue that this amendment is trying to solve.

“A builder was found to have performed defective, incomplete work that resulted in physical harm to the building owner.”

In a statement to news.com.au, Ms Boyd said: “No one should be forced to destroy their own home, after a contractor dissolves their own company to avoid responsibility.

“This was done repeatedly by contractors who were able to repeatedly renew their building licences, despite the fact that dozens of ongoing compensation claims had been lodged against them.”

She added the a regulatory loophole, which left vulnerable families with huge debts, and allowed contractors to profit, had now been closed.

Mr Keir told news.com.au he rejected that Ms Forwood suffered a spinal injury and said the home’s defects were minor and easily fixed.

He has indicated he plans to appeal the decision to rescind his building licence.

The 66-year-old builder admitted to news.com.au he started a new company in Queensland, called Aroma Developments, to escape bad reviews including from Ms Forwood.

He also told news.com.au that his previous two companies, Sydney Homes and Galaxy Construction and Development Group, had collapsed because of “bad management”.

However, facing joblessness and with no other skillset, Mr Keir said he had to start a new building business to put food on the table.

He cannot work as a builder for five years.

Although the law has passed, not all of Ms Forwood’s wishes have been fulfilled.

She received the maximum insurance payout of $340,000, but it’s not enough to rebuild her house and pay medical fees.

“They’ve given me this money making me go away. We’re stuck now, it’s better to demolish the house and rebuild. We don’t have enough money to do that,” she said.

Forwood applied for an act of grace payment, which is when a minister decides a payment is “appropriate because of special circumstances”.

She applied to NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello hoping for a further $200,000.

However, she found out at the end of last week her application was rejected and there are no grounds for appeal.

“I think they (the government) don’t want to admit wrongdoing,” she said of her disappointment about her application’s outcome.

Read related topics:Sydney

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *