Builders are becoming fearful about trying new and innovative products amid fears about being held liable for faulty and non-conforming products, a survey of builders in Queensland suggests.
Releasing the results of its latest survey of its members, Master Builders Queensland said innovation with in the building sector had fallen victim to on-going issues with non-conforming products as fears of product failure and wearing the cost of rectification was driving a reluctance on the part of builders to try new materials from new suppliers.
According to the survey, only around one in five builders (22 percent) regularly seek out new products from new suppliers.
By contrast, around two thirds of builders (67 percent) try to use the same products from the same suppliers whilst one in ten (10 percent) regularly sought out new suppliers for the same products.
Master Builders deputy chief executive officer Paul Bidwell says builders fear being held liable for product defects which might occur.
Under current legislation in Queensland, builders are liable to rectify any work which is structurally defective (e.g. leaking roofs or showers) within six years and three months from when the work is completed.
Whilst they were confident that larger and established suppliers would support them in the event that products turned out not to be up to standard, this was not the case with newer or smaller suppliers.
As a result, Bidwell says, there is a fear amongst builders when trying new products from new suppliers that they themselves may be left effectively paying twice for the product in question – once when buying the product and again when replacing a faulty product.
“The main reason they might go with what they know is that if it doesn’t work, then they end up having to fix it,” Bidwell said. “They end up paying twice.”
“It’s that risk hanging over their head which means that they are weary of trying new products and new processes.”
The latest survey comes amid ongoing debate about how to eradicate products which do not conform to standards required under the National Construction Code.
Bidwell says that whilst the fear of product failure and subsequent liability existed prior to recent media stories, high-profile cases of faulty products had served to underline these concerns.
He applauds Queensland legislation passed in August which spreads liability for products which fail to meet standards up the supply chain.
He says this will rebalance responsibility for faulty products in a more equitable fashion as opposed to leaving the builder as the sole party holding the can.
“At the moment, the builder wears all the responsibility,” he says.
“If there is something that is a structural defect, the builder has to fix it. Even though he brought it in good faith, there is no one else for him to go for.”
Aside from the issue of faulty products, the survey found that overall sentiment and economic conditions within Queensland’s building industry were generally positive.
Despite the passing of the peak of the boom in residential building, builders within the south-east reported improvements in turnover, profit, new contracts, contract prices and levels of employment.
Elsewhere, builders in Far North Queensland were optimistic amid a strong pipeline of significant dollar value projects set to hit the region over the next twelve months.
Builder in Central Queensland were experiencing stronger conditions after a long struggle as resource-related projects wound up – albeit with the sustainability of this being under question amid a forward work pipeline which was tenuous in nature.