Some of the shoddier builders in Australia can have an unreasonable attitude in relation to wanting to get the job done without consultation.

Frustrated and worn out mentally, they continue about their business not knowing what is happening behind the scenes; they don’t understand nor wish to comprehend the requirements of administration.

Customer relations rarely exist or are at the bottom of their priority, as they are often all too busy to understand reality.

They tend to get wrapped up in their own affairs, until one day, a customer asks – and continues to ask – “how long is this going to take to build my home?”

Suddenly the builder has to think outside the box, as answers are now required swiftly.

Without any thought or innovation, the builder answers, knowing that what he is about to state is a lie. The legal wrath takes hold. No contemporaneous notes were previously taken except by the customer, who kept a record of this event.

Works proceed, bad weather is looming, materials are not ordered on time and sub-contractors are a no show.

The customer asks again, “are we on track?” The builder stalls and says “I think so.”

Again, the client makes note of this conversation.

Works continue until the builder realises the bricks (for example) haven’t arrived. Kind of an important thing to have on a work site! Better check when they were ordered…but there’s no diary! He calls the supplier and gets no answer. He moves onto the next stage only to discover he can’t get to this stage without the bricks.

This may seem a bit far-fetched but in fact, this is the reality for too many of today’s builders.

This customer now sees the builder is not managing their job to their complete satisfaction. Time to confront!

The wrath now comes back to the builder in the form of a complaint.

The builder has no written response or any contemporaneous notes of the events that have just passed. What does he do now?

It’s an interesting topic, and one that sends the client into disarray, thinking “how will I pay for this unsuspected expense? Piering, site costs, landscaping, site surface drainage!”

The opinions or homeowners are at times overlooked or ignored by sales.

An example from the Courts:

“Your honour, my wife and I visited a Home World exhibition village. We liked the appearance of a home, so we went in. Upon entry we were asked if we would like a brochure. Yes, please! We walked through and came back to the sales team and sat down to talk. I stated, ‘is what I see in this exhibition home what I get?’ and was told yes. ‘Great,’ I said. ‘Let’s do it.’”

The end result of this short story was the home cost $76,000 more and they could not afford it!

The property inspection industry has similar problems, and may in fact be even worse.

Real estate agents are now engaging pre-purchase property inspectors to provide inspection reports for free and once the house is sold, the inspection entity is paid.

The biggest issue here is conducive conditions are missed. They then show up when it is too late to the unsuspecting purchaser and then to the unqualified, and not yet competent, property inspector.

  • Regarding the latter point about property inspectors, any pre-purchase inspector who is engaged by the real-estate agent has an obvious conflict of interest and indeed, for any inspector to even accept work on this basis would be bordering on unprofessional.

    Bottom line, prospective home buyers should engage (and pay for) their own inspector. Moreover, they should check and confirm that the inspector in question has the right credentials and insurance. It would be far better if inspectors needed to be licensed, registered and insured, but only Queensland does this. Elsewhere, former taxi drivers, teachers, accountants and musicians can claim they are a building inspector without any idea of how building and construction actually works. It's a sham and other states should follow Queensland in regulating this part of the industry.

    • John, I agree with all you have stated, only yesterday I was in a meeting with the QBCC and all of this was brought to bear. A few years ago we lobbied with the Federal Government to implement national licensing for property inspectors and it was shut down very quickly……..what next! HJR

    • Having been at the coal face of building defect inspections for over a decade I have slightly cynical view of what is going on. We have a very high incidence of builders with bi-polar disorder. Perfectly adept and supremely talented at extracting as much money as quickly as possible and completely averse to spending some of it on project and quality control, instead leaving it to subbies on site whom they screwed on price.
      I have not yet met a builder that is stupid about claiming money.
      Our legal system is inadequate because there is no element of punishment, only compensation and it clearly is not enough. The sad part about it that despite building being such wonderful business paying so well it's not enough for greed.
      We also need to address stupidity of home owners expecting everything to be done for them even after they sign contracts without reading or understanding. Homeowners too have a duty of diligence.
      Getting back to your example, only a stupid home owner would assume they would get everything that is in a display, are not they dollied up for sale? What about site costs and variations?

  • For far too long the weak link in the Australian building sector – they're the reason that shoddy operators have been able to act with impunity.

  • Our 'builder' is a prime example.
    Multiple successful warranty claims against his defective work, liquidated, de-registered, on the VBA disciplinary register, 140 plus defects to our home (Building Commission inspection report), contract, permit and plan changes without consent because 'that is the way he has always done it' or he 'didn't notice that on the contract drawings'!
    Guess what he became?
    A Building Inspector for which he was not licensed/ registered, resulting in 2 guilty counts of 'misleading and deceptive conduct. (Magistrates Court. March 2015) Apparently 'Building Inspector' is a protected title in Victoria where as ANYONE can become a 'property inspector'.
    No problem. He is now a 'property inspector'. The same promotional blog (bar title change), promising the same work. Charging (conning) people for inspections his track record clearly proves he is incapable of carrying out! Once again, misleading and deceiving consumers!
    Further, he claims on his web page that he is a VCAT 'accredited' 'expert witness' with considerable VCAT experience.
    According to VCAT, there is no accreditation for VCAT witnesses!
    Expert in the field he alludes to, he certainly is not!
    Considerable VCAT experience he probably has. BUT, taking into account his track record, probably experience gained as a defendant, not complainant!
    VCAT allow testimonies from this calibre of inspector?
    VCAT make determinations which have the ability to devastate families financially and emotionally, based on reports from 'expert witnesses', 'property inspectors' like this revolting conman?
    Not good enough!
    Consumer distrust/damage grows and the good are trashed along with the rejects. Change can only come from within.

  • Good on you Howard. As you say. the poor old consumers are unsuspecting – this is just how it was designed to be – and it continues to work a treat for everyone, except consumers!

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