Cost Advisor

Unlicensed Tradesmen Are Causing Problems In Auckland Building Boom

September 12, 2017

Lately there has been an influx of a new type of tradesman in Auckland – Fix it men.

Who are these guys? They are not your typical handy men. Rather, they are tradesmen who specialise in fixing the mistakes and errors of others, namely cowboys, who were hired to do a job and screwed it up.

This has become so abundant that now there is an investigation unit specifically for tracking down these “cowboys” who do shoddy work. Jayson Thomas is the manager of this investigative unit, who work for the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board. Being a  former policeman, he is now the head of a small team of six investigators and technical advisers.

These guys specialise in investigating shoddy work, tracking down the trademen responsible, and ensuring action is taken. They particularly target unlicensed tradesmen and tradesmen who have let their licenses lapse, and inexperienced tradesmen who should be supervised but are often not.

It’s through this investigating that they discovered this new group of guys going around fixing botched jobs who unlucky home owners have paid for then had to pay to have it fixed. And it’s a rampant problem. Jayson Thomas comments:  “I have spoken to people who recently have ceased to do any commercial work themselves. Instead, they just do maintenance work – but what that really means is they go behind the people who are doing the original work and do fix-ups.

“For one of the guys I spoke to, that was his entire business – fixing other people’s shoddy work – and he was absolutely flat out. It is one measure of just how many cowboys there are out there these days.”

 The main reasons for this issue are the abundant building demands in areas such as Auckland and Queenstown, and earthquake effected areas such as Christchurch. People saw the opportunity to make easy money and started offering services for which they were untrained and unqualified.

Prosecutions against the cowboys are on the rise, as methods of tracking them down improve. There is now even an app, Report A Cowboy (RAC) which was launched last year and is downloadable from the PGDB website. There were 126 complaints made through the app last year and 15 so far this year, and over 10,000 downloads of the app. And just under half the complaints involved allegedly unregistered plumbers.

Thomas and his investigators can then investigate projects where they have heard unlicensed operators may be doing illegal work. Because of such high demand for building work, there is strong pressure for contractors, which can lead to using unregistered tradesmen. What then happens in contractors hire unlicensed workers to keep up with demand, or gain an exemption to have unlicensed workers work under close supervision of a licensed tradesman.

However, the reality is that the tradesman is often on another job trying to keep up with demand, leaving the workers on their own,  who don’t know what they are doing and can cause absolute disaster.

So far the worst case Thomas has seen was in Christchurch on a drainlaying job which went horribly wrong. The unlicensed workers had over-excavated the site, which meant the homeowners couldn’t lay the tar-sealed driveway they wanted but had to pay out for a much more expensive reinforced concrete drive.

To make matters worse, the work meant the homeowners couldn’t use their shower or toilet. The tradesman then told them to use the neighbour’s, but the neighbours were also unable to use their toilet.

“There was a part-timer and a first-year apprentice in charge of the job – the main guy spent most of his time at another site; this job was so bad the tradies got in to fix things said originally they didn’t want to touch it.”

These are exactly the types of situations you want to avoid. By using registered plumbers, gas fitters and drainlayers, you ensure that you won’t be met with a nightmare like this, and will have someone who knows what they are doing on the job.

We at Euro Plumbing are a team of fully qualified and registered tradesmen. When you call us, you can be sure you are not only getting someone who is legally allowed to do work on your home but the best in the business.

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