There are just a few truths that will live on to eternity. Death and taxes are no-brainers and teenagers will always know more than their parents. But perhaps the most overlooked universal truth of all is this: do not renovate until you have calculated all the risks.
Until recently those risks seemed to only include things like divorce (renovating in winter with a child on the way is not the optimum environment in which to view your partner’s best traits), bankruptcy (crooked tradespeople can cause all sorts of trouble, the least of which is running late) and self-mutilation (if you think a beer and a tool belt is all you need to fix some faulty wiring, then think again).
The latest risk is far more serious. Home owners can now be sent to jail or face a hefty compensation bill if a tradesperson is injured or dies on their property.
“We owe that duty [of care] as a matter of law,” Michael Toomah, a partner with the law firm Norton Rose, told ABC News.
“I think that case will come as a surprise to a number of home owners, but it is pretty consistent with where the law stands at the moment.”
The warning comes as a Sydney home owner faces a compensation bill for the death of electrician Allan Harley, who was electrocuted while carrying out work at a Sydney property in 2004.
Earlier this month the New South Wales District Court ordered the home owner, to make a $70,000 compensation payment to Harley’s widow.
The court found that the home owner “was aware and ought to have been aware” that a live wire had been left exposed when the home’s hot water system was replaced in 2001, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
In addition to the compensation payment required from the home owner the court also found the plumber liable for 80 percent of the $350,000 damages awarded. It was the plumber that replaced the solar hot water system with a gas system, but left a live supply of electricity connected to the old system.
Who knew? The shocking reality is that most home owners are oblivious to the fact that they owe a duty of care to tradespeople employed to work on their property or that during the work period the property becomes a “workplace” and as such, home owners must ensure that whatever they ask a tradesperson to do is safe.
And renovating was fraught enough. Now, DIY wiring doesn’t seem as clever as it once did and divorce and bankruptcy pale in comparison to deceased tradespeople and a maximum of six years’ in prison.
Do you think this new liability is fair to home owners or should the onus rest with professional tradespeople who ought to leave a property without lingering dangers? Share your thoughts and experiences below.