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Waiting on a tradie? You could be waiting a lot longer

HIA chief economist Tim Reardon said record low interest rates, coupled with home buyers’ desire for a bigger property during COVID-19, had created a rush for new home builds and renovations over the past two years.

“Builders will be at capacity throughout this year and well into 2023,” Mr Reardon said. “There’s still challenges with land, labour and materials [affecting the industry].”

The Association’s figures show 125,000 houses are expected to begin construction this year across Australia following a record 149,000 in 2021.

Those figures don’t include other dwellings such as apartments, which would push residential construction numbers even higher.

Mr Reardon said while the federal government’s HomeBuilder grants, aimed at keeping house construction going during the worst of COVID-19, had created an initial spike in house builds, there had been another boost after the grants ended.

Adding to the challenges, tradies were also playing catch-up on older builds, Mr Reardon noted, with lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, and difficulties getting building materials thanks to COVID putting residential projects behind schedule by between three weeks and five months last year.

That included home renovation projects, which also boomed over the past two years, especially as more owner-occupiers bought fixer-uppers to enter the market in more expensive suburbs.

Renovators were having to wait up to two years for the necessary trades, an analysis of data showed.

“One of the unique features of this boom is that rarely do we see a renovations and housing boom at the same time – that’s also happening in all states across Australia,” Mr Reardon said.

High demand for tradies has added more pressure to those already working in difficult circumstances, especially as the Omicron strain of COVID-19 spreads.

Owner of Officer Plumbing Services in Melbourne’s southeast, Chris Hunter, said he had already had jobs affected by Omicron.

“I was supposed to do a job for a bathroom, but the stonemason got COVID, so it delayed the project,” Mr Hunter said.

Mr Hunter is working 30 to 40 jobs per week, including renovations and maintenance work, sometimes not finishing until past 9 pm.

“I’m fairly new, I’ve had this business for four years, and I’ve gotten busier - from the second to the third year there’s been a massive jump in work, and it’s busier again this year.”

With people continuing to work from home, using their toilets and taps more, urgent jobs were coming up more often, meaning it was harder for him to take on jobs where he was required for longer than a day.

Mr Hunter hired an apprentice in 2020 to help out, and is now looking for another plumber to join the business, but even that is proving difficult because of the tradie shortage.

The problem was being exacerbated by tradies who were not getting vaccinated.

Mr Hunter estimated 15 per cent of tradies had not had their required jabs to work, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus estimating that it was close to 10 per cent in 2021.

Tradie shortage issues come at a time when soaring building costs are also hitting the industry.

Timber costs are blowing out, adding to the cost of building a home, CoreLogic data shows.

New data released by CoreLogic shows that national construction costs had increased by 7.3 per cent over 2021, the highest annual growth rate since March 2005.

The Cordell Construction Cost Index showed construction costs had risen most in South Australia and Western Australia, where the cost of building a home jumped by 7.9 per cent over the year.

CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless said the data showed higher costs were being driven by an increase in timber prices, with metal costs still volatile.

“With such a large rise in construction costs over the year, we could see this translating into more expensive new homes and bigger renovation costs, ultimately placing additional upwards pressure on inflation,” Mr Lawless said.

Source: Domain

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12 Oct 2021

Vaccination Requirements for All Authorised Workers

From 15 October 2021, all workers in Metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria on the Authorised Worker List are required to provide evidence to employers that they have:

  • Received at least their first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccination, or
  • Have a booking to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by 22 October 2021, or
  • Have a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner
The 15 October deadline will not apply to workers who already have existing requirements under CHO directions – groups like construction, freight, healthcare, aged care and education will still have to comply with previous advice
Authorised workers (such as contractors) are required to show proof of vaccination to their employer to be allowed onto a site or premises to work
According to the Chief Health Officer’s Directions, an “employer’ in relation to a worker is defined as:
  • The person who employs or engages the worker; or
  • If the worker is self-employed - the worker
SCA (Vic) therefore advises its members that from 15 October onwards, there is a requirement for contractors to provide proof of vaccination status to their employer in accordance with the CHO directions, and requirements applicable to all authorised workers under relevant public health restrictions
Evidence of vaccination status may include:
  • An immunisation history statement available from Medicare;
  • A MyGov COVID-19 Digital Vaccination Certificate;
  • Relevant information from a My Health Record and/or Medicare Online Account, or
  • Other documentation/proof of relevant medical exemption
In the intervening period before an individual’s immunisation history is updated, evidence of vaccination can also include a recent vaccination appointment booking confirmation email, or the card received at the time of vaccination


What this means for you

As a contractor to any Owners Corporation managed by ASM Strata Specialists, you will be required to supply one of the aforementioned documents as evidence of your vaccination.


Work Permits

You must carry a work permit to attend any of our owners corporation properties in line with your work orders, at all times.


What this means for you

You must carry a current and valid work permit when conducting work for any Owners Corporation managed by ASM Strata Specialists.


Permitted Work

According to advice provided directly to SCA (Vic) from the Department of Health, authorised work and essential services relevant to the strata sector which may continue during lockdown include (but are not limited to):

  • Required maintenance works inside or outside individual homes and apartments, including:
    • Essential infrastructure and services required to maintain human health, safety and wellbeing, including construction, maintenance and repair (whether provided by a public or private undertaking)
    • Services to support ongoing provision and regulation of electricity, gas, water, sewage and waste and recycling services and their maintenance - this includes services to ensure solar or battery supply at off-grid premises
    • Critical repairs where required for emergency or safety purposes, including (but not limited to):
      • Burst water service
      • Blocked or broken toilet system
      • Serious roof leak
      • Gas leak
      • Dangerous electrical fault
      • Flooding or serious flood damage
      • Serious storm or fire damage
      • An essential service or appliance for hot water, water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundering is not working
      • The gas, electricity or water supply is not working
      • The property does not meet minimum rental standards
      • A safety-related device, such as a smoke alarm or pool fence, is not working
      • An appliance, fitting or fixture that is not working and causes a lot of water to be wasted
      • Any fault or damage in the property that makes it unsafe or insecure, including pests, mould or damp caused by or related to the building structure
      • A serious problem with a lift or staircase
  • Outdoor works at occupied premises (to be completed solo, unless additional workers are required for safety purposes), including:
    • Maintenance, repairs and cleaning (such as painting and pool maintenance)
    • Home installations
    • Home solar panel installations - if roof cavity access is required, it must have external access
    • Landscaping and gardening
  • Renovation works in the event that premises are entirely unoccupied
    • In an apartment block, all units must be vacated in order for a premises to be considered ‘unoccupied’
    • In a townhouse or villa, renovations may proceed in line with small-scale/residential construction regulations, provided that no occupants are present
  • Services related to property settlement or commencement/end-of-lease (including removalists)
  • Urgent services necessary for the health and safety of any person, animal, or premises - this includes scheduled, routine cleaning of common property areas in apartment buildings (commercial cleaning of individual residences is currently not permitted)
  • Routine rubbish and waste disposal services
  • Commercial cleaning operations in the event that a building is designated as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 exposure site
  • For the purposes of these directions:
  • Repair and maintenance worker means a person who works in connection with:
    • Laundry services;
    • Dry cleaning services;
    • Carwashing services;
    • Commercial cleaning service;
    • Locksmith services;
    • Roadside assistance services;
    • Pool and spa maintenance services for commercial pools and spas;
    • Vehicle and mechanical repair services;
    • Outdoor maintenance, repairs, and cleaning, including at occupied premises;
    • Outdoor home installations;
    • Home solar panel installations that involve outdoor work or in roof cavities with external access; or
    • Critical repairs to any premises where required for emergency or safety.


What this means for you

If you are completing any work for ASM Strata Specialists, you guarantee that the work you are conducting is in line with the aforementioned list of Permitted Work.