With new home construction running at record levels, a shortage of bricklayers in Western Australia is causing long delays in building and putting home builders at risk of being forced to deal with shonky tradespeople, media reports suggest.

A report on Channel Nine’s Today show indicated that while a record 30,000 odd new homes throughout the state of Western Australia are being approved for construction per year, there are only five thousand bricklayers to build them. This situation is not only causing significant delays in construction but is also attracting dodgy tradespeople to an industry where those who can lay 1,000 bricks at roughly two dollars per brick are able to earn $2,000 daily.

Master Builders Association of Western Australia executive director Mike McLean said the state’s home building boom has put enormous pressure on the bricklaying trade, especially given the status of double brick as the predominate form of construction within the state.

“At times, that can cause several weeks’ delay in order to provide continuity of work for the builders, which is causing some backlogs with the following trades such as roof carpenters, roof tilers and the plasterers,” McLean said.

Bricklayer Miram Vrabeli said many in the industry were frustrated with rouge workers who were giving the sector a bad name.

Vrabeli said poor bricklaying may not be readily apparent to the naked eye but can result in several problems, including the work not being level on the top (inhibiting the ability of carpenters to erect a good roof) and other problems with waterproofing which are not picked up until down the track when the home has been handed over and maintenance issues arise, necessitating costly repair jobs.

“You hear about these guys, they’ll be coming in and getting inflated rates and stuff like this,” Vrabeli said. “The regular guys find ourselves coming through and cleaning up their mistakes.”

“You just feel bad for the owners as well. You can see it and it’s just not right.”

McLean said a licence to offer bricklaying services was not compulsory in the state and that responsibility lay on the shoulders of the registered builder to hire properly trained bricklayers.

The best thing consumers can do to avoid trouble, he noted, is to hire a registered builder whom they trust.