Whether you are having an elder relative or another dependent living temporarily with you, a granny flat will be the best option for you. The granny flat itself is a self-contained accommodation that can be placed in your backyard. There are many different models and sizes on offer that can provide exceptional comfort and privacy for the resident.
Building a granny flat will need approval from your local council and in some cases an individual will also need to pay a building permit fee. Choosing a licensed granny flat builder company will allow you to avoid most regulatory issues and will make the entire construction process easier and straight-forward, while still being compliant to the local council and state laws. Licensed builders will also provide you with their proper licenses before any work is done, ensuring no liability on your project.
Hiring an unlicensed builder might sound appealing at first due to their lower charges and not having to pay extra regulatory fees. However, did you know that it is illegal to perform building work without the proper license? Punishment can be a fine of up to $50,000 for an individual and for a business up to $250,000 or 12 months in prison.
There are designated governmental offices responsible for investigating unlicensed traders and breaches in their license conditions in each state. For example, if you were looking to build a granny flat in Melbourne, the Consumer Affairs Victoria is the local consumer regulator.
Another issue with hiring an unlicensed builder to build your granny flat is that it can be built and then discovered to be irregular by your Council in an inspection. This will result in a Consumer Affairs investigation, high fees and in some cases even the demolition of the whole structure.
There have been multiple cases of unlicensed builder court cases in the past few years. For example, there was an unlicensed builder that received over $66,000 from twelve different clients, with one of the clients even paying him $22,000 for work. But it was discovered that he was a non-compliant builder and total fines to the builder and the business were around $70,000 and he was ordered to pay another $85,000 for breaches in the Australian Consumer Law.
Beware of scammers! Be suspicious if your contractor demands upfront deposit payments, usually in cash, of over 10% of the service total cost. Hiring an unlicensed builder can also be dangerous, as they cannot prove to have enough expertise to back up their work. This is of course extremely important when you are building a house for your elderly relatives, as you wouldn’t want to have to get any repairs or have accidents occur due to the use of second-hand materials or substandard construction techniques.
To sum up, always go with the law-abiding option of choosing a licensed business when building a granny flat in Melbourne or in any part of Australia. There are many physical risks and legal consequences of hiring an unlicensed builder that aren’t simply worth the risk you take by accepting their help.