Advice for Prospective Home Buyers.
Choosing a builder can be a risky business. Checking your state’s register to see if your proposed builder is on the ‘naughty list’ may not be enough.
Some questions to ask your proposed builder:
- Has anyone who works for your company ever been on the ‘naughty list’? Sometimes individual Registered Building Practitioners, employed by a builder, may be on the list but will not come up when you search a volume builder’s name.
- Have there been any actions brought against your company in the last 2 years? In Victoria actions at VCAT or Conduct Reviews, will not put them on the naughty list, even if found guilty. Check on-line forums or VCAT lists, as well.
- Has your company bought, or attempted to buy, any houses from the owner in an attempt to finish a dispute. IT DOES HAPPEN!!! Imagine the nightmare situation that would have lead to this solution.
- When a dispute arises over a defect or something not being what it was supposed to be, do you fix it? Or do you say ‘too late’ and offer compensation such as an upgraded oven?
- Has your company ever offered ‘payment’ (e.g. theatre tickets) for a good review on any online web-site such as Product Review etc.
I have a copy of a report from a very senior person at the Victorian Building Authority that should serve as a chilling warning.
My son alleged that his frame was not compliant, even though a frame inspector had approved it. The builder denied this and claimed a frame stage payment. My son made a formal complaint to the VBA and eventually it did an inspection of its own and agreed that it was not compliant and the frame should not have been approved. Eventually even the builder agreed and so preceded to correct some of the defects.
Here’s the punch. This very senior person from the Victorian Building Authority recommended that no action be taken against the builder for the dodgy work, or the premature claim for the frame stage payment, even though these were in breach of the regulations because it was attempting to fulfill its contractual obligations.
The lesson to be learned from this is that dodgy work and dodgy claims are happening all the time and unless you call them out on it, nothing will be done about it and that’s what you’ll get. If you are like most consumers and know very little about building regulations, get some-one who does, even if you have to pay someone to do it. Watch closely at every stage. I’m sure it will be worth it in the long run.