Calls for crackdown on dubious builders in Tasmania, owners denounce traumatic experiences
Adriane and Gillian Creamer began a $ 400,000 renovation and extension of their Cygnet home, south of Hobart, in November 2019.
- Calls for crackdown on dubious builders in Tasmania mount as owners denounce traumatic experiences
- State building regulator insists there are enough protections for consumers, but opposition pushes for parliamentary inquiry
- Group of homeowners affected by construction defects meet with consumer minister, who pledged to seek improvements
Almost two years later, it’s still not over and they’ve spent an additional $ 150,000 fixing the defects and $ 50,000 in legal fees.
The couple, who are approaching retirement, describe it as the most traumatic experience of their lives.
Problems with their construction surfaced four months when Mr Creamer said he realized his siding had been improperly installed.
Then, other traders – the tiler and the kitchen joiner – began to express concerns with the couple that the new walls were not completely vertical and the floor was not level.
“The kitchen was 30 millimeters lower on one side of the room than on the other side of the room, there were issues with the deck, it was not properly secured to the main building,” Mr. Creamer.
When asking the builder about the issues, the couple said the relationship had become so strained that they sought legal advice and an appraisal from a second building expert.
“We had a building expert who was warmly recommended by our builder, but the problem with that was that he saw virtually nothing [wrong]”said Mr. Creamer.
The second surveyor’s report listed a number of problems.
“He [the builder] had about 30 problems with the construction, 30 faults, 12 of which were so severe that we couldn’t live in the house or sell the house until they were satisfactorily repaired, ”Mr. Creamer said.
The competent regulator in Tasmania, the Consumer, Building and Occupation Services (CBOS), insists that there are enough consumer protections to force builders to repair defects, without resorting to legal action.
In a statement, a spokesperson said that during construction, the building expert may issue management notices to demand rectification of defects.
“If a builder does not comply, the relevant council’s licensing authority has the power to enforce compliance,” the spokesperson said.
If any defects are discovered after practical completion, CBOS said it has a range of dispute resolution processes, including arbitration.
“And a decision of a panel has the effect of an order of the Magistrates Court,” said the spokesperson.
The Creamers, who were desperate to move into their home, feared this process could take months, if not years, and did not trust their builder to properly fix the job.
Acting on the advice of their real estate lawyer, they terminated their construction contract and paid other traders to repair the defects.
Parliamentary inquiry needed, says Labor MP
Labor MP Jen Butler said she was regularly contacted about shady builders and Tasmanians were left with hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their pockets.
“We believe it is time for us as a parliament to look at the future of industry in Tasmania and how we can better protect consumers and how we can better protect our construction industry “Ms. Butler said.
She will table a motion in parliament on Thursday for a select committee inquiry into consumer and construction sector protections in Tasmania’s building and construction industry.
“Consumers are repeatedly faced with issues with problem builders with very little recourse except for very expensive lawsuits and most of the time consumers have already invested just about everything. what they have in construction, ”Ms. Butler said.
She said the proposed investigation would examine the adequacy of the current legislative and regulatory mechanisms available to CBOS to investigate and compel builders to repair faulty work.
“The building and construction industry in Tasmania is booming… every once in a while there are shonky builders and we want to see how we best protect the reputation for quality of builders in Tasmania,” Ms. Butler.
The Creamers back calls for a parliamentary inquiry, but in the meantime they have taken matters into their own hands.
They put up signs on their lawns to publicize their experience and urge people to know their rights.
“We will try to do what we can to change what needs to be changed in Tasmania to make it a level playing field.”
The owners disappointed by the minister
Consumer Affairs Minister Elise Archer has already rejected the idea of a parliamentary inquiry, even before the mandate was tabled in Parliament.
She said she understood the concerns raised by several people interviewed by the CBA last month and had met with them recently to discuss a way forward.
She said many of their problems were related to legislation which had since been tightened.
“Although many of the issues raised relate to circumstances prior to our amendments, I have asked my department to consider any potential improvements that could be made to further strengthen the framework in the future,” said Archer.
“Therefore, a parliamentary inquiry is not necessary,” she said.
She said a new court would open in November called the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Court (TasCAT).
“I’m already wondering if TasCAT could handle litigation around these issues in the future to make it easier, faster and cheaper to resolve these disputes,” Ms. Archer said.
This angered some consumers, like Launceston owner Ash Dunn, who said it seemed the meeting with Elise Archer and CBOS a few weeks ago had been a waste of time.
“We need an investigation for the sake of transparency and to get to the bottom of it.”