‘Shoddy’ North East builder banned

Pine stumps erected underneath the former WAW branch building at Walwa (click across) which has been subject to a renovation gone wrong.
Pine stumps erected underneath the former WAW branch building at Walwa (click across) which has been subject to a renovation gone wrong.

A SHODDY renovation on a former bank has led to a North East builder being deregistered and found guilty of six charges by an industry authority.

The Victorian Building Practitioners Board penalised Bernie Cook for his work on a house, previously occupied by the WAW building society branch at Walwa.

It found he had failed to comply with a series of building regulations, including carrying out work without a permit and failing to do work in a “competent manner and to a professional standard”.

Mr Cook, 68, was also found guilty of doing work on the house’s bathroom which did not meet building code requirements, taking a deposit in excess of 10 per cent of the contract price before starting any work, failing to obtain foundations data which may have affected the property’s footings and entering into a major domestic building contract which was not in writing.

The board followed its verdict by cancelling Mr Cook’s registration as a domestic builder and ordered him to pay costs of $1048.

Mr Cook yesterday said he knew nothing of the findings made against him.

They came after Towong Shire’s building surveyor found substandard work at the house and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard a complaint by the owner of the house, Ken Ross.

Mr Cook said he had been hired to put in a laminate floor in the former bank.

He then found that it had an uneven floor and there was water under it.

It also required re-stumping.

“I don’t know what this is all about, I thought it was all over when I went to VCAT,” Mr Cook said.

He said he had responded to VCAT orders by doing re-stumping work.

Mr Cook, who lives at Walwa but is planning to move to Wangaratta, said he was no longer working as a builder and, while disappointed with the guilty findings, he had no plans to fight them.

Mr Ross was living in Queensland when he engaged Mr Cook in 2006 to re-stump the property and put in a floating floor.

He said he had visited the property in 2008 and found no work had been done and, later, found pine pieces had been used as stumps.

“I intended to get it to a reasonable condition and make it look like the old bank, because it was falling apart, and have it as a heritage house for the town,” Mr Ross, who now lives at Portland, said.

He said he planned to return to VCAT because the work had still not been satisfactorily completed.

He also wanted an order to hire another builder and bill Mr Cook for work on his “uninhabitable” house.

The board told The Border Mail Mr Cook had failed to appear before it and “made no submissions that demonstrated any remorse or acceptance responsibility for his actions”.