Unlicensed builder sentenced to imprisonment, fined $36,000

Department of Customer Service

A Sydney man posing as a builder has been sentenced to imprisonment and fined after contracting to do almost $260,000 in work while he was unlicensed and uninsured, including leaving an elderly man with no bathroom, kitchen or running water for more than a year.

On 11 June 2021 Tevita Tiliti Ungounga (also known as David Ungounga) was convicted at Paramatta Local Court for 11 breaches of the Home Building Act, after pleading guilty.

He was sentenced to an aggregate 14 months imprisonment to be served by way of Intensive Correction Order (ICO), 200 hours of community service and fined $36,000.

NSW Fair Trading Executive Director of Investigations and Enforcement Valerie Griswold said Mr Ungounga had contracted with four consumers without holding a licence, with one victim bearing most of the financial brunt.

“A 66-year-old Illawong man was left with no bathroom, no kitchen and no running water for almost a year and overall unacceptable work. The man was unable to fix his premises because he had run out of money and Mr Ungounga was uninsured,” Ms Griswold said.

“Of the $259,905 Mr Ungounga received as payments from consumers between March and December 2018, this ill-fated man contributed a whopping $216,505.

“According to documents tendered to the court, Mr Ungounga approached the man offering to repair a seawall, which extended to a substantial renovation, with the work to include new walls, ceilings, floors, a new kitchen, bathroom and a new roof. The man took out a $100,000 loan to help fund the work.

“After paying Mr Ungounga $216,505 over four months, the Illawong man went broke, and in July 2018 Mr Ungounga abandoned the job. As at April 2019 the man didn’t even have running water.”

Mr Ungounga has the right to appeal.

Consumers engaging the work of any tradesperson should always request licence details and check they have a valid licence at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/help-centre/online-tools/home-building-licence-check

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