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  • 1. 10 NEWS SPECIAL INVESTIGATION Angry home time to nail David Murray Kelmeny Fraser BUILDER COMPLAINTS FRUSTRATED homeowners ripped off by shonky builders ■ 5625 disputes lodged with Building Services Authority last claim they are being left in financial year the lurch by the industry watchdog. ■ 4638 licences were cancelled The Building Services Authority is facing a wave of ■ 80 per cent of claims accepted complaints that its disputes system is broken, with costly WHAT TO DO battles dragging on for years. The backlash has prompt- ■ First try and resolve the problem by talking to the contractor ed a review of the BSA to recommend an overhaul of ■ If that fails, the BSA advises providing written the building disputes process. notification to the builder or contractor to have the ‘‘Consumers perceive the defect fixed within a reasonable timeframe dispute and claims process as complex, lengthy and ■ Should the defect not be fixed, a complaint can be lodged costly,’’ according to the re- with the BSA within six years port commissioned by the Government. ■ Visit, click on the “homeowners’’ Latest figures show there tab and follow the links for information on lodging a were 5625 complaints to the complaint, or phone 1300 272 272 BSA in the 2010-11 financial year, with a building downturn driving tensions. The BSA paid out 2915 insurance claims worth owners connected to the vantage consumers,’’ the re- $39 million in the same group secured a meeting in port says. period for defective, incom- the Premier’s office last Authorities say there was a plete or subsidence-affected Friday to raise their concerns. growing trend for consumersSubbies get off scot-free work, with 80 per cent of claims accepted. Separate figures obtained Accounting firm KPMG – conducting the first BSA re- view in five years – found it to lodge complaints, only to have builders go to QCAT, which effectively stops theQUEENSLAND builders are executive director Graham BSA, obtained by The Sunday by The Sunday Mail show 1547 played an ‘‘effective role’’ as BSA from investigating.being left tens of thousands of Cuthbert said the builder was Mail, has recommended the building disputes also ended industry regulator and con- BSA general manager Iandollars out of pocket after still forced to pay that subcon- development of a new model up with the Queensland Civil sumer protection advocate. Jennings said the KPMGclient disputes with rogue sub- tractor, regardless of the prob- for subcontractor accountabil- and Administrative Tribunal However, it says disputes report supported the overallcontractors. lem. ‘‘At the moment, the BSA ity where subcontractors who over the past three years. need to be tackled faster and system in place ‘‘which They have taken aim at the won’t take action against sub- perform defective work but As the battles mount, more effectively. portrays the regulator is per-Building Services Authority contractors for defective refuse to fix it could be held dozens of owners have linked A new ‘‘triage’’ approach forming its job’’.over what they say are unfair work,’’ Mr Cuthbert said. responsible. together through the Build- would prioritise complaints Building Industry Ministerrules preventing them from ‘‘We understand builders The report found there was ing Disputes Action Group to and ensure resources were Simon Finn said he wastaking action against cus- are responsible for correcting no ability for a builder to lobby for greater protection. thrown at the most complex assessing the recommen-tomers who refuse to pay them defective work but he (the complete a background check ‘‘The system is just cases. dations and would seek tofor their work, with a recent builder) shouldn’t have to pay on a subcontractor, adding to atrocious. The builder is be- A ‘‘rapid adjudications pro- balance consumer protectionsurvey showing the trend had for it. builders’ frustrations. ing protected, the consumer cess’’ would also involve a with fairness to builders.forced 12 per cent of builders ‘‘The defective work should It also recommended a is not being protected and we panel of independent expertsto consider closing their doors. be paid for and rectified by the rapid adjudication system are all out of pocket and left trying to solve residential What do you think? Email In some cases, up to trade contractor. At the mo- where disputes between with houses that have huge disputes before they end up yournews@thesundaymail.$100,000 had been held back ment they just walk away and builders and subcontractors structural issues that can with QCAT. or write to us at GPOby a homeowner over a minor say see you later in court.’’ could be mediated by a panel. never sell,’’ a spokeswoman ‘‘Early referral to QCAT Box 130, Brisbane, 4001.defect caused by a subcontrac- But a State Government- said. can be misused and leadtor, but Master Builders commissioned review of the Kelmeny Fraser A delegation of three to lengthy delays and disad- Carpet refund defies cents Kelmeny Fraser carpets laid within weeks – But a copy of Mrs Adam’s matter through the courts ahead of the arrival of her bank statement showed the should a tribunal order be A FLOORING company or- first child. money was repaid by the ignored. dered to repay $900 to an Mrs Adams told the tribunal company via at least nine Solomons Flooring owner unhappy customer dragged she had chosen a particular separate payments over eight Sarah Fosse said the tribunal out the process by paying back type of carpet after being days. order had not specified how the money in instalments as assured it could be installed On one day, $77 was lodged the deposit was to be refunded. small as 25¢. within two weeks. into her bank account via four ‘‘We weren’t told how to Valerie Adams won a seven- But three days later a separate transfers for 25¢, pay her,’’ Mrs Fosse said. month battle for a refund last salesmen from the store told $75.20, $1.05 and 50¢. ‘‘As and when the funds month when the Queensland her it was out of stock and ‘‘I thought what kind of were there, we transferred Civil and Administrative Tri- would not be ready for more person does this,’’ Mrs Adams them across.’’ bunal ruled in her favour. than a month. said. Mrs Fosse said she had But she said she was She was later told the wait ‘‘They couldn’t supply what initially refused to repay the ‘‘gobsmacked’’ when pay- could be even longer, at which we paid for so why should I get deposit as it was ‘‘out of our ments began arriving in her point she said the store agreed punished?’’ hands’’ if the carpet did not back account as small as 50¢ to a refund. Mrs Adams said she had arrive on time under the and 25¢ from the company. But the money never ar- sought help from the Office of contract. Mrs Adams ordered carpets rived, forcing the family to Fair Trading, but was told to She said the money had Long process: Valerie Adams, for her newly-purchased home pursue the matter through drop the matter and treat it as been fully refunded by the with daughter Raven, received last November from Solomons QCAT. A QCAT decision or- a ‘‘lesson learnt’’. deadline, but Mrs Adams said a refund in small instalments. Flooring at Browns Plains, dered on June 22 that the She believed the system was the final instalment came a laying down a $900 deposit. company pay Mrs Adams letting down consumers as she day late and was about $75 She hoped to have the $900 by the end of June. would be forced to pursue the short.Page 10 JULY 3 2011 ST