Dodgy builders & trades people in Canberra

noidea 22 May 2020 23

I decided to have a residential dwelling built in Canberra recently and I REGRET the decision. I have had endless problems with the builder doing sloppy work. I have had to get two independent reports on issues that need addressing.  I’ve provided the reports to the builder and he is disputing some of the issues. For example, he won’t connect a down pipe to the stormwater, so water runs all over the front porch when it rains.

The builders contractor who did the polished floor did a shocking job. It appears that the floor was never sanded back and the polish has been placed on over pencil marks etc on the concrete.

I’m wondering what I can do?  I have spoken to ACTPLA, but it appears in the ACT builders can do what they like and get away with building dwellings that don’t meet Australian Standards etc. I think the industry needs to be regulated a lot more than what it has been.

What do other people think?

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23 Responses to Dodgy builders & trades people in Canberra
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Suki Suki 3:14 pm 08 Sep 15

Has anyone purchased a property from Pierius Magnus Developments? I would be keen to hear about your experience.

water_lily water_lily 11:29 am 15 Apr 14

NoImRight said :

The thread that will not die it seems.

It won’t die because so many people in Canberra have been burned by dodgy builders.

NoImRight NoImRight 10:24 am 15 Apr 14

The thread that will not die it seems.

water_lily water_lily 7:56 pm 14 Apr 14

rosscoact said :

The problem is that people expect that someone should do something about ‘it’ instead of taking responsibility for their own decisions. What checking did you do before appointing your builder and certifier? Was it merely the cheapest price available? Did you ask around from people who know about these things or did you just ask for opinions from the equally ignorant?

Well you get what you pay for and the cheapest price in building is never the best.

Rosscoast, when people build a house for the first time they do not have all the information or ask all the right questions. That’s not their fault. It boils down to this: don’t put in a quote for a job if you cannot deliver it. Simple as that. It’s got nothing to do with people accepting cheap quotes. If the builder cannot honour a legal undertaking to do the job for a price, he shouldn’t be submitting that quote. Customers don’t enter into building contracts not intending to honour them, whereas some builders treat their legally binding building contracts like a piece of toilet paper.

miffed miffed 9:19 pm 25 Mar 12

Adding to this old discussion – we have had the same problem with a builder who did some stormwater/treeroots damage repair work. MBA number, etc, told us, in writing, that no plans needed. Quote was for $47K but quickly inflated to over $ 100K with variations.

End of the day still major water leaks and he is ignoring my communications. MBA took the details and ignored my e-mails. I contacted various engineers and no-one seems to want to get involved. Two of them however did say that the scope of the works indicate that plans should have been submitted to ACTPLA and that I, as the owner, was now in trouble in this regard. I pointed out atht teh buidler has told me twice, in writing, that he did not believe the work needed plans to be submitted but apparently I remain responsible for this. It really does seem that these guys can do just what they want and get away with it

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 1:05 pm 06 Nov 11

This thread is a year old, I’m not sure what prompted a revisit, but it would be interesting to know how things went with the original complaint.
My dad was a tradie and we’ve dealt with some really good tradies so the last thing I want to do is make hurtful generalisations. But there are for sure terrible ones too and taking responsibility for one’s decisions as rosscoact suggests is no guarantee of avoiding them. We and people we know have had problems with award winning builders, tradies who were not the lowest quote, tradies who were the authorised agents for the product, both government and private certifiers, companies that really sounded like they knew what they were doing in the quoting/planning stage . . . . and the consumer protection for what can be the most money you’ll ever spend is woeful!

GladMyNameIsFrank GladMyNameIsFrank 12:07 am 06 Nov 11

MeNoFry – you surely can’t stereotype ALL tradies as ‘lazy, and doing as little as possible for the money’. I can speak for myself as a tradie in that I take pride in my work and always put in extra for the customer whenever possible. I know other trades who do the same. You get the good and bad in all professions. And alot of the new developments I have seen lately have been excellent quality.

so let’s talk about the boddy public servants out there too!! I agree, not all builders and tradies are crap. Infact, the builder I employed was the best!

noidea noidea 4:17 pm 06 Dec 10

six_by_nine said :

I’ve just had a run-in with my own dodgy tradesman. I’ve had some paving done, and just watched the rain wash away most of the base underneath the pavers. I’m now faced with having to get another tradesman to fix the first one’s mess.

How do you warn people of dodgy tradesmen?

That’s a really good question. Unfortunately, there is no name and shame system. I’m thinking about getting some paving done and in an ideal world would be able to get someone who could do a good job, but I don’t know who is any good. I’ll keep asking around until hopefully someone can recommend a trades person. Canberra is a small place, so you would think that reputation was important to the people out there doing work if they are local.

six_by_nine six_by_nine 6:32 pm 28 Nov 10

I’ve just had a run-in with my own dodgy tradesman. I’ve had some paving done, and just watched the rain wash away most of the base underneath the pavers. I’m now faced with having to get another tradesman to fix the first one’s mess.

How do you warn people of dodgy tradesmen?

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 9:23 pm 27 Nov 10

You can lay a lot of the blame at privatised certifiers. They do a shit job.

As for buying property in the ACT, I won’t touch anything under 10 years old. By then, most of the potential probelms should have come to light. I’ve gone and had a look at some new apartments recently (just for interest’s sake), and the shoddy workmanship has to be seen to be believed. The corners that have been cut (and what has obviously be filled and painted over) would be laughable if people weren’t putting their hand in their pocket to buy these things.

noidea noidea 8:02 pm 27 Nov 10

rosscoact said :

I’ve been in the constyruction industry for over thirty years in NSW Queensland and ACT. The standard here is no different, not better or worse than the standard in other states over the time i’ve been in the industry.

I was supervising builders and tradesmen in the 80s and they were as a group just as keen to do as little as necessary to get paid. It’s not a new phenomenon by any means.

And as far as not building in the ACT for quids, where do you think half the tradesmen come from? They follow the work around and next year they’ll be building in Sydney or down the coast or wherever.

The problem is that people expect that someone should do something about ‘it’ instead of taking responsibility for their own decisions. What checking did you do before appointing your builder and certifier? Was it merely the cheapest price available? Did you ask around from people who know about these things or did you just ask for opinions from the equally ignorant?

Well you get what you pay for and the cheapest price in building is never the best.

I certainly didn’t go for the cheapest people. I did my research and the people I used came highly recommended. A friend of mine paid a lot more for a very high profile builder and his house has major structural issues. Another person I know has a void termite barrier warranty on their house because the concreter didn’t follow the plan. I am also aware of 4 cases where people are living in newer properties where there are major water leaks e.g. when it rains it’s like a waterfall in the internal walls. I think I’m lucky compared to these other people.

Me no fry Me no fry 10:27 am 27 Nov 10

MeNoFry – you surely can’t stereotype ALL tradies as ‘lazy, and doing as little as possible for the money’. I can speak for myself as a tradie in that I take pride in my work and always put in extra for the customer whenever possible. I know other trades who do the same. You get the good and bad in all professions. And alot of the new developments I have seen lately have been excellent quality.

Mate, I didn’t say that, nor did rosscoact, whose words I quoted. I am just old enough to know that it’s a bit silly to make blanket statements on almost any subject. I know of many tradies who do excellent work and take an obvious pride in their work. The problem is, such people tend to be quite rare.

harley harley 10:33 pm 26 Nov 10

ACTPLA recommend getting an independent certifier. When we did our first (40K) reno, the builder pretty much insisted we use an independent “to cover yourselves”. He wasn’t available to do our later extension (200ishK), and the guy we got in was very put out that we had a certifier of our own. He wanted to charge us extra dollars for any paperwork the certifier wanted. In the end, he didn’t charge the extra.

What was good about the certifier is that he was thorough. In the end, when he’d been through the final, all the structural and code work was checked out, he turned to my wife and asked if she was happy with the workmanship. He only approved the final after her agreement that it was fine.

Happy to recommend BCA Certifiers in Phillip. A bit late for Noidea, but maybe the next guy will be better off.

disappointed disappointed 8:43 pm 26 Nov 10

The problem with ACTPLA is that they are more familiar with the builders and trades people than the public they are supposed to serve. I approached ACTPLA about a self build to convert an existing brick carport into a garage. It involved filling in one wall and putting in a roller door. None of the work was structual. I was told that it would be difficult to get my application approved unless I found a builder!

I definitely would not build in Canberra. Every one I know who has built or renovated has ended up on stress leave. Trades men and builders don’t show up on time or at all and the workmanship is ordinary at best.

Good luck with getting the problems rectified.

Me no fry Me no fry 4:03 pm 26 Nov 10

rosscoact said :

I’ve been in the constyruction industry for over thirty years in NSW Queensland and ACT. The standard here is no different, not better or worse than the standard in other states over the time i’ve been in the industry.

I was supervising builders and tradesmen in the 80s and they were as a group just as keen to do as little as necessary to get paid. It’s not a new phenomenon by any means.

And as far as not building in the ACT for quids, where do you think half the tradesmen come from? They follow the work around and next year they’ll be building in Sydney or down the coast or wherever.

The problem is that people expect that someone should do something about ‘it’ instead of taking responsibility for their own decisions. What checking did you do before appointing your builder and certifier? Was it merely the cheapest price available? Did you ask around from people who know about these things or did you just ask for opinions from the equally ignorant?

Well you get what you pay for and the cheapest price in building is never the best.

Fair enough. Let me rephrase my comment: I wouldn’t build anywhere for quids. I’d much prefer to buy an established dwelling.

Builders and tradies may not have changed much, but what seems to have changed – for the worse – is industry regulation. Something isn’t working properly.

rosscoact rosscoact 1:55 pm 26 Nov 10

I’ve been in the constyruction industry for over thirty years in NSW Queensland and ACT. The standard here is no different, not better or worse than the standard in other states over the time i’ve been in the industry.

I was supervising builders and tradesmen in the 80s and they were as a group just as keen to do as little as necessary to get paid. It’s not a new phenomenon by any means.

And as far as not building in the ACT for quids, where do you think half the tradesmen come from? They follow the work around and next year they’ll be building in Sydney or down the coast or wherever.

The problem is that people expect that someone should do something about ‘it’ instead of taking responsibility for their own decisions. What checking did you do before appointing your builder and certifier? Was it merely the cheapest price available? Did you ask around from people who know about these things or did you just ask for opinions from the equally ignorant?

Well you get what you pay for and the cheapest price in building is never the best.

Me no fry Me no fry 12:46 pm 26 Nov 10

Cletus 3 said :

More regulation by the ACT Government? That’s like asking an ivory dealer to regulate the poaching of elephants.

Yes, except an ivory dealer is likely to have at least some morals and be competent at their job.

I’m with Muttsybignuts, wouldn’t build in the ACT for quids. I’ve seen the current standard of “workmanship” for myself and it beggars belief.

Cletus 3 Cletus 3 12:11 pm 26 Nov 10

More regulation by the ACT Government? That’s like asking an ivory dealer to regulate the poaching of elephants.

noidea noidea 11:43 am 26 Nov 10

Thanks for the comments.

The advice I received from ACTPLA was I have to prove the builder was in the wrong and had to provide independent expert written advice to demonstrate breaches of Australian Standards etc. I was told they could look at the issues/s out on site, but needed the evidence from an expert for them to do something. Seems to me the system is not working if builders can do sloppy non-complaint work and home owners have to pay the costs to demonstrate the builder is wrong. The system needs more regulation by the ACT Government.

As for the certifier, they certified work that wasn’t in accordance with the Australian Standards.

Muttsybignuts Muttsybignuts 11:25 am 26 Nov 10

I wouldn’t build in Canberra for quids. My friend ( well a friend of my friend)just had a new home built in Casey and the workmanship is absolute crap. Every tradesman was progressively worse than the last. At one point they had an inspector come around and place post it notes around the house at various points to indicate faults. The next day the “electrician” showed up to put in some lights. One of the post it notes was obviously where he wanted to put a light so he just drilled right through it. So they now have a wall light with fluoro yellow post it note corners sticking out the back. Even better, some of the wall joins had decent gaps between them. Instead of letting the “builder” know to fix them the “painter” just filled the gaps with thick paint and covered the lot.
It is an absolute shambles.

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