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Tips and Traps of Engaging Contractors

Tips and Traps of Engaging Contractors

We have all experienced a contracted arrangement gone wrong – a painting contractor whose work starts bubbling just months after it is completed or a plumber who charges to repair a leaking pipe but does not fix the leak.

Without a crystal ball, there is no way to completely avoid these unfortunate situations. However, there are ways to mitigate the risk that follows from engaging contractors whom your community has no prior relationship with.

The role of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (the QBCC) explained:
The QBCC is a government entity established to regulate the building industry in Queensland. It does this by imposing certain requirements on the industry (for example by requiring that certain contractors hold licences or have a contract in place with the consumer) and by addressing instances of non-compliance with those requirements (for example by providing

remedies for defective building work or dispute resolution services).
The QBCC requires contactors to hold licences to carry out:

  • building work valued over $3,300.00;
  • building work of any value where it involves drainage, plumbing, gas fitting, termite management (chemical), fire protection, completed residential inspection, building design and site classification;
  • building work values over $1,100.00 where it involves hydraulic services design.

This means that your regular handyman will not require a licence provided the work being performed does not fall into one of the above categories.

The QBCC also requires that for the work listed above, written contracts must be entered into between the parties. However, that doesn’t mean that for work valued at less than $3,300.00 a body corporate shouldn’t request that a contractor reduces his/her engagement to writing. Helpfully, the QBCC has prepared a “small building projects contract” simple two-page document that can be suggested for by bodies corporate to record agreements for work valued at under $3,300.00. You can obtain a copy of that contract by clicking here.

Tips and Traps
Do not fall into the trap of:

  • Engaging “friends” of the committee. Make it an arm’s length transaction and pay the market price to avoid that awkward conversation when the work that has been performed is unsatisfactory.
  • Accepting over the phone or verbal quotes. Reduce whatever is discussed to writing to avoid miscommunications and have the contractor confirm the scope of the work required, the price and the time required to perform the work.
  • Selecting a quote that is significantly lower than other quotes obtained. Don’t forget the old saying, “you get what you pay for”.

Tips to make your job easier include:

  • Establishing a list of preferred contracts/suppliers. When a contractor performs well, add them to the list and use them regularly. They will begin to understand your processes, your requirements and your expectations which will allow future engagements to run smoothly.
  • Ensuring the quotation is in writing and properly reflects the work order or instructions.
  • Encouraging the use of a contract. Do not be afraid to ask for a contract to be prepared or to suggest the use of the QBCC’s small building projects contract.
  • Ensuring the contractor has an online presence to consider any negative review and to reduce the flight risk in the event the body corporate is unhappy with the works.
  • Engaging a project manager. If the work being performed is significant and will require a degree of supervision, encourage the body corporate to engage a project manager to report to the committee on the progress of the works and ensure they are being suitably performed.

This article was contributed by Jason Carlson – Partner, Grace Lawyers.

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