At Summit Coatings, we are passionate about what we do, and doing it right. I was recently a guest speaker on 2UE’s weekend segment with Simon Stevenson, discussing unlicensed painters and the risks involved for clients who use them. Some clients choose to hire an unlicensed painter as they are a “cheaper” option, whilst others are unaware of licensing laws, or unknowingly hire an unlicensed painter as they fail to do the required checks. If you’re thinking of hiring an unlicensed painter, consider the following points carefully before you risk your home (or those in it!)

There’s no insurance

All painters (and trade contractors) need two types of insurance: public liability and worker’s compensation and jobs over $20,000 require Home Warranty Insurance. How does this apply to you as a client and homeowner? Public liability insurance will protect your home if the contractor causes damage. You might think that painting is relatively light work – how much damage could occur? Unfortunately even the most careful painters experience a slip up at one time or another. Whilst every care is taken, mistakes could range from a simple paint spill on the new carpet (time to re-carpet the bedroom), right through to setting off a multi-storey apartment complex fire sprinkler system from getting a paint dryer to close to the heat sensors (we’ve seen it happen…). Fortunately, if your painting contractor is insured, your home and belongings are safe and insurance will cover it. Keep in mind that regular home and contents insurance won’t cover events caused by a contractor unless you take out additional coverage for in-home employees.
What’s more, it’s a legal obligation that jobs over the value of $20,000 require Home Warranty Insurance. This needs to be taken out by the painting contractor and is designed to protect clients against defective work which is not rectified by the painter you hired. This is an extremely important insurance as it protects you, the client, against shoddy workmanship.
Next, Worker’s Compensation insurance is important in case a contractor is injured on your property. In this case your home & contents insurance may cover an uninsured contractor, however this will affect your no-claims rating and could mean a premium hike in the future – and why should that be your problem?

Kiss any workmanship guarantees goodbye

You wouldn’t spend thousands on a new car without a guarantee from the manufacturer that they will fix anything that goes wrong – so why would you spend thousands on your home without peace of mind that the work is guaranteed? At Summit, we guarantee our work for a minimum of 5 years – that’s how much we believe in our services. Unlicensed painters would rarely offer workmanship guarantee, and you could be left with a dodgy paint job and no one to tell about it.

There needs to be a contract

Did you know that all work completed by a painting contractor requires a contract? The purpose of this is to protect you, the client. This contract needs to include what work will be completed, areas to be completed, amount of paint coats, what prep work will be done and any exclusions to the painters guarantee (for example, if there is a structural building issue which might affect the paint which cannot be guaranteed). A contract can be in the form of a separate document, or the actual quote supplied by the painter. Not only does this contract outline what to expect from your painter, but Fair Trading won’t be able to assist you if you come up against any issues with your contractor.

There’s a reason they’re unlicensed

Whilst the price of an unlicensed painter might look appealing, it begs the question – why are they actually unlicensed? It could be something as simple as being too lazy (or cheap) to acquire a license, which makes you wonder what else they might be cutting corners on. Or perhaps they didn’t meet the requirements to be awarded a license, and would you really want a sub-standard painter working on your home? Or perhaps there’s limitations on their working rights within Australia, in which case you would be promoting illegal migrant workers (or worse, supporting their exploitive employers).

It’s ruining the industry

Another aspect to consider is how your actions are affecting the painting industry. If reputable, licensed painters who pay a premium for the right insurances are expected to compete with cheaper, nastier painters who can save a buck on cutting corners, it compromises the entire industry for the future.

It may not actually be the cheapest option

In light of the above, hiring an unlicensed painter could cost you more in the long run. Not only could it mean your paint job is completed to a lesser quality (meaning you need to get another painter in to fix the job within a short amount of time), but if anything actually goes wrong, you could be liable for thousands of dollars in insurance fees. What’s more, if you’re a member of an Executive Committee on a strata plan that hires an unlicensed painter without Worker’s Compensation Insurance, and someone is injured, you will be personally fined under legislation.
If you would like to learn more about painting licenses, or chat to Summit about our licenses, insurances, warranties and guarantees, be sure to contact us. Before you hire a painter (or any trade contractor) you should always check with the contractor’s association in you state that people are who they say they are, and hold all necessary licenses. In NSW, you can head to the NSW Master Painters Australia website and contact them to check the status of a painter’s license.