Anger over ‘aggressive’ crackdown on builders

Housing Minister Mick de Brenni • Professional advocate Susie Bennell SR

AN alliance of small to medium-sized “mum and dad building companies” have united as the storm over “aggressive” tactics by the state’s construction watchdog is set to intensify.

The builders have accused the powerful Queensland Building and Construction Commission of relentlessly pursuing them over minor disputes and suspending their licenses before fully investigating complaints.

The QBCC is supported by Housing Minister Mick de Brenni, who wants to give the body even greater powers to tackle dodgy builders in a bid to protect subcontractors and homeowners.

“If a mum and dad chooses to build their own home it’s the biggest investment of their life and they deserve the protection of a strong watchdog who will support them if sadly they find they are dealing with a dodgy builder,” Mr de Brenni said.

But the builders, represented by Sydney professional advocate Susie Bennell, say they have been caught in the crossfire, having to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers to defend themselves.

They will hold meetings in Brisbane this week to map out the next step in their campaign.

Their claims, first raised in The Sunday Mail last week, have been validated by the stockmarket-listed builder Tamawood, owner of Dixon Homes.

Its chairman Robert Lynch has told shareholders “a period of aggressive regulatory enforcement” was adding to costs but would likely boost its bottom line by killing off smaller competitors.

Mr Lynch told The Sunday Mail, if the approach continued, some smaller builders would go out of business.

“It creates opportunities for us but probably not the way we’d like to see it happen,” he said.

“We all need to use good products and look after our clients, and obviously there needs to be some regulation.

“But it can also swing the other way where it becomes overzealous to the extent where builders, who haven’t done anything particularly wrong, seem to be getting hauled over the coals and having to become very litigious about how they deal with the QBCC.”

A QBCC spokesman said staff must act with fairness and impartiality, and anyone who believes they have been unfairly treated should contact the Queensland Ombudsman.

Courier Mail