Unregistered builder Michael Johnson has been ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in compensation to former clients, after pleading guilty to multiple breaches of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 (DBCA).
Mr Johnson, 55, of Churchill, was convicted and sentenced in the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court for:
- entering into a major domestic building contract without being a registered building practitioner
- receiving a deposit of over 5% under a contract worth more than $20,000
- receiving a deposit of over 10% in five other instances where the contract price was less than $20,000.
Mr Johnson accepted all the deposits before building work started. The offences occurred in 2019, in suburbs including Narre Warren South, Chelsea Heights, Bentleigh, Wantirna South, Clayton South and Blackburn South.
He was ordered to pay an aggregate fine of $7,000 fine and $43,448 in compensation to affected consumers. He was also ordered to pay costs.
We took action against Mr Johnson following complaints from consumers who had made payments for building work, which was then not supplied or completed, or was completed poorly and without the required building permit or registration.
Mr Johnson traded under several business names including Outdoor Lifestyle Concepts, Decks R Us, Deck Creations, Lifestyle Constructions and Diamond Security Doors.
In January 2021, we issued a public warning notice regarding Mr Johnson’s conduct.
Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Nicole Rich said the court outcome sent a strong message to builders not abiding by the rules and putting consumers at risk.
“Building or renovating a house is often the biggest investment people will make. Unregistered building practitioners can cause serious financial harm to consumers,’’ Ms Rich said.
“Consumers can also miss out on important protections that automatically apply when engaging with a registered building practitioner,” she added.
A person must be registered with the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) if they:
- carry out work worth more than $10,000
- use a combination of skills, such as plastering and painting, when working on your home
- reblock, restump, demolish or remove a home, or do structural building work – regardless of the value of this work.
- use a written major domestic building contract – a contract required by Victorian building law – for work costing more than $10,000
- provide a current certificate of domestic building insurance for work costing more than $16,000 (including the project’s address, cost of the work, their registration details), before taking a deposit and starting work.
“Everyone has the right to expect that builders are suitability qualified to do the job they’re hired to do and to complete their work to an appropriate standard,” Ms Rich said.
“This sort of conduct is also harmful to registered Victorian builders doing the right thing, whose reputation is unfairly affected by the poor conduct of others.”
For further information about seeking a qualified tradesperson, including a list of all registered builders, see About builders, tradespeople and other building practitioners.