29 February 2024

Building company folds after 30 years, leaving Canberra clients in limbo

| Ian Bushnell
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Cubitt’s Canberra display centre in Fyshwick. The ACT has 11 projects affected. Photo: Cubitt’s.

A privately owned building company that has operated in NSW and the ACT for 30 years has gone into voluntary administration owing 200 creditors $3.8 million.

The administrators, RSM Australia partners Richard Stone and Brett Lord, said Cubitt’s Granny Flats and Home Extensions built age-friendly, self-contained homes and housing extensions, with 120 projects in train or awaiting payment.

Eleven of these were in the ACT, 49 were in NSW, and a further 60 were either in pre-construction or had been completed and are awaiting final payments.

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Directors Ian and Kate Cubitt issued a statement saying they had broken the news to the company’s 80 staff, some of whom had been employed for more than 25 years, and that they decided to sell the company.

“It was a very emotional meeting,” they said.

“After 30 years building homes, we never thought we’d find ourselves in a position where we’d be saying goodbye to our staff, our business, and the many steadfast customers and suppliers who have supported us. It has been the toughest of days.”

They said bank lending conditions, supply prices, taxation changes, insurance prices, COVID recovery and lengthy weather events had taken their toll on the company.

In 2021, the company decided to honour fixed-price contracts and not pass on price rises to customers, bridging the shortfall and completing projects with significant loans to the company by the owners – Ian Cubitt, Kim Cubitt and Kate Cubitt – using their personal assets.

However, this was not enough to bridge the gap, and the owners opted for voluntary administration with the aim of finding a buyer for the business.

“We will be working with the administrators to provide everything they need to achieve the best outcome they can for Cubitt’s and its staff, customers, suppliers and other creditors,” the directors said.

Mr Stone said repercussions from the well-documented challenges that had beset the building industry over the past few years were still being felt by some businesses like Cubitt’s.

“We recognise this is a very uncertain time for employees,” he said.

“The majority of staff have been stood down, with some essential staff retained to assist the administration process. The Cubitt family have also pledged their full support during this process.”

Mr Stone said the administrators did not plan to keep the business trading but would instead take urgent steps to seek expressions of interest from the market for its purchase.

“Cubitt’s is an attractive business proposition having a solid market profile, quality product and a strong pipeline of work on its books,” he said.

“Our primary aim is to sell the business in its entirety, including, where possible, re-hiring employees and completing the projects that are on foot.”

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The Administrators were taking steps to secure the company’s assets and lock up the four display centres in Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle, and Wollongong.

Mr Stone said the number of creditors and amount owing these numbers were preliminary and may change following more detailed investigations over the coming weeks.

RSM will contact creditors this week to explain the voluntary administration process and next steps. Creditors affected by the administration of Cubitt’s should contact RSM via email at cubitt@rsm.com.au. Parties interested in purchasing the business can also contact RSM using the same email.

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Incidental Tourist11:52 am 29 Feb 24

Just wanted to extend my support to the business and all employees. I am familiar with their excellent product range. If we want cost effective affordable houses we need more businesses like this one. Hope this company will find its new investor and all employees keep their jobs.
I am concerned of “taxation changes” which contributed to the collapse. I see shadow of money thirsty tram..

This is sad news, especially considering I know of someone who works for this company. I saw Cubitt’s display in Fyshwick in 2022 and was impressed with their varieties. Unfortunately, the person who inspected the area I needed a flat build said it couldn’t be done unless we removed the clothesline and cut the very treasured back deck in half, those were deal breakers. Still, I guess the knew what they were doing and it’s a shame to see a company like this go.

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