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Building battle as couple endures long wait for gas sign-off

COOKING WITH GAS: Sherri and Ben Sanders are relieved to have their gas system compliance certificate after over a month of frustration with their Gladstone building company.
COOKING WITH GAS: Sherri and Ben Sanders are relieved to have their gas system compliance certificate after over a month of frustration with their Gladstone building company. Chris Chan

SHERRI and Ben Sanders waited more than a month for confirmation their gas cooktop was safe to use.

The lack of a gas system compliance certificate was the culmination of a long list of problems they've had with their new home and builder.

"You just look at it and see all the faults and it just represents all the frustration we've had the whole way," Mrs Sanders said.

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines states: "The gasfitter is obliged to give the owner the certificate immediately after the installation is completed".

A sub-contractor for Gladstone franchisee Hotondo Homes installed the gas cooktop in September.

The house was handed over to the Sanders on October 12.

The missing certificate had safety and insurance implications and Origin would not supply gas bottles without it.

The couple contacted The Observer on Monday with their issue. By Wednesday at 4.30pm it had been resolved.

"It's wonderful that it happened so quickly after us fighting for so long," Mrs Sanders said.

The Sanders said their $360,000 family home was off the display home model, but they had made specific changes.

"They (the builders) don't listen to what you want. The things we asked them to do when building the house; they just did what they wanted," Mrs Sanders said.

"They don't call back; they don't return emails."

The pair, who said they originally wanted to be owner/builder, would not build another house.

"The entire building process wasn't enjoyable. It all started out well and went pear shaped pretty quickly," Mrs Sanders said.

The Sanders said they advise others to get everything in writing in regards to what was expected to completed at each inspection stage.

"We were very naïve. This is the first house we've built. We assumed, you pay someone money for what you want, and that they will do the right thing," Mrs Sanders said.

"Owner/builder can't be nearly as stressful. If you stuff up, you care.

"You're the only one that cares about what you're building and you take care with what you are doing. As opposed to tradesmen that haven't been paid for months that don't give a shit what they're doing."

Gladstone franchise Hotondo Homes statement:

"The problem was that (we) were let down by the sub-contractor engaged to sign off on the gas fitting works. 

"The work was undertaken and inspected and verbally advised as being compliant but the paperwork required (a Gas Certificate) was not able to be provided because the sub-contractor was waiting on compliance stickers from the relevant Government Department. 

"The builder continued to seek the Gas Certificate from the sub-contractor and when it was still not provided another sub-contractor was engaged to inspect and re-check the work undertaken and the relevant Gas Certificate was issued immediately by the second sub-contractor. 

"The builder regrets the delay but was unable to issue the Gas Certificate itself.  There were certainly never any safety issues so far as the gas installations were concerned. 

"It was acknowledged that communication with the client could have perhaps been handled in a more appropriate manner."


Department of Natural Resources Statements:

November 9:
"The Department's Rockhampton office has confirmed that it has an abundant supply of gas compliance plates available.
The gas compliance plates are express posted the same day as they are ordered.
The Rockhampton office has never not had a supply of gas compliance plates or gas certificate books available."

November 7:
"A regional Petroleum and Gas Inspector from the department contacted both the property occupier and builder yesterday (7/11) to resolve this gas safety issue.

"It was determined the builder had used a gas fitter who holds an interim gas licence to carry out the installation. A gas fitter that holds an interim licence cannot issue a gas compliance certificate.

"This legislative requirement was pointed out to the builder who agreed to immediately engage the services of a fully licensed gas fitter to check the installation work and issue a gas compliance certificate to the property occupier. This work was to be carried out by 4.30 pm on 7 November 2012.

"The Petroleum and Gas Inspectorate is investigating the matter further and may take any required compliance action once all the facts are known."

November 6:
"It is difficult without details identifying the particular residence, gas fitter and gas system installed to determine whether the gas fitter has fulfilled his compliance obligations under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004.

"However, the current Gas Compliance Certificate books have been in use since April 2005.

"While there have been several revisions of the books to improve the format, the gas fitter is able to use any version of the book he has purchased to issue a gas compliance certificate for the installation in question.

"The certificate books are readily available through the department's Rockhampton office, and are mailed to the gas fitter via express post the same day as the order is received from the gas fitter.

"Queensland legislation provides a robust system to ensure the safety of the public by ensuring gas will not be supplied to non-compliant installations by gas network operators.

"If, in this case, small gas cylinders have been purchased and installed, this does constitute a breach of the legislation by the person that turned on the gas supply.

"If the gas certificate has not been issued, the appliance may not have been commissioned, or the pipe work pressure tested, which poses a potentially significant safety risk.

"In general, the licensed gas fitter is required to provide a copy of the gas compliance certificate to the owner / operator of the gas system at the completion of the gas installation.

"They are also required to give a copy of the gas compliance certificate to the gas network operator (gas supply company) within 5 business days of completing the gas installation.

"The gas network operator also has an obligation to ensure the gas system is compliant before gas is supplied. The means of meeting their obligation under the legislation, is by ensuring they have a copy of the gas compliance certificate before gas supply is commenced."

For the community:

  • Contact the Petroleum and Gas Inspectorate in Rockhampton with any domestic gas issue - safety, installation, compliance. Ph: 4938 4682 or email gassafe@deedi.qld.gov.au.
  • For information, see For The Community section at mines.industry.qld.gov.au/safety-and-health/petroleum-gas-safety.htm
  • Check that any plumber or gas fitter they engage to do gas installations is fully licensed.

 


 

Topics:  department of natural resources and mines, hotondo homes, origin


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