Mark Bailey* trusted Sydney builder Paul Logan to renovate the kitchen and laundry in his new North Bondi pad for $7200, having conducted a licence check.
Over the next month the banking professional forwarded $5900 to Mr Logan, who kept making various excuses as to why he had not yet begun any work.
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How to avoid dodgy builders
NSW Fair Trading offers some tips and things to look out for to avoid being scammed by shonky builders.
"He kept trying to get more time. He kept saying another man had the new doors locked up in a warehouse, he was going overseas. It just went on and on. It just got ridiculous," said Mr Bailey.
Fed up, Mr Bailey lodged a complaint with the home building watchdog, NSW Fair Trading, which had received numerous complaints about Mr Logan over the years.
In late January, the Parramatta Local Court found Mr Logan guilty of breaching various consumer and home building laws, ordering him to pay $75,775 in fines and costs, and $14,700 in consumer compensation.
His offences include unlicensed contracting of residential home building work and contracting without proper insurance, as well as accepting payment without supplying goods and services in time.
Mr Logan, trading as Paul Logan Creations, had also used multiple aliases, dates of birth and trading names over the two decades he carried out unlicensed work in Sydney homes.
He repeatedly took excess deposits from clients, failed to start work and failed to refund deposits.
In the case involving Mr Bailey, Mr Logan tricked him about his credentials by providing the licence and ABN numbers of another builder with the same name who worked on the state's far north coast.
Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said the total penalty of $90,475 was a significant win for consumers. Between October and December last year, penalties averaged $7300.
"We've been criticised in the past for the sorts of penalties that have been handed down. In comparison, the penalty against Mr Logan is a very significant outcome," he said.
"If you're looking to do any building or construction work, you need to check with Fair Trading that the person has got the appropriate licence. Any work over $5000 needs a licence."
Mr Bailey questioned whether he would ever see the $5900 that he is owed.
But Mr Stowe said that if Mr Logan does not pay the fine and compensation, he would be pursued by the State Debt Recovery Office. Further court action could be launched to see Mr Logan's belongings repossessed to the value of the money owed.
He said said a recent amendment to the home building act meant that Fair Trading could now seek a custodial sentence if an unlicensed builder committed a second offence.
"It's a strong deterrent, and we will certainly continue to look at his conduct," Mr Stowe said.
He also reminded consumers the maximum deposit allowed under the home building laws was 10 per cent of the contract price.
Fair Trading was hit with 9065 home building-related complaints regarding in 2015, up 14 per cent on the previous year's figure. Most were about poor quality work, followed by rights and responsibilities, and questionable conduct.
In another case, Sue Stokes took her matter to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal resulting in an order for Mr Logan to pay her $6600 on or before October 2014.
That order was not paid and is part of the compensation ordered by Parramatta Local Court.
Mr Logan was formerly known as Richard Younan as well as Rachid Younan and formally changed his name in July 2009.
Richard Younan registered the business name of Richards Tile Services and used it between December 1992 and November 2001.
* Not real name