Watchdog probes Qld builder over closure fears
Queensland's building watchdog says it is investigating Brisbane-based PlanBuild Homes after complaints from clients that it is "shutting down its business."
A Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) spokesperson said "a couple of homeowners" had contacted the watchdog this week with concerns about the Kedron-based company's financial future after being told it was closing its operations.
The spokesperson said it was encouraging all homeowners who may have incomplete contracts with the company to call the QBCC to discuss their options.
PlanBuild's offices in Gympie Rd were closed on Friday when the Courier-Mail attended. Comment has been sought from the company.
"The QBCC will continue to monitor any developments with this company, and urges anyone with information or any complaints to contact the QBCC," the spokesperson said.
The company has undertaken 34 projects so far this financial year valued at $12.2m compared to 51 homes built in the previous year valued at $19m.
The QBCC spokesperson said the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme existed to help protect consumers in the event a building company goes bust. "We are yet to receive any non-completion claims for insurance assistance (in relation to PlanBuild)," said the spokesperson.
The QBCC has five open defective work cases involving the company, which according to industry sources isn't out of the ordinary for a builder the size of PlanBuild which has a licence that allows it to have annual turnover of between $12m to $30m.
The comany was founded 2003 to launch "providing Queensland homebuyers with affordable new houses that represent outstanding value-for-money."
Subcontractors and employees of PlanBuild say problems have brewing at the firm over the past several weeks with clients in early stages of their projects reportedly having the job abandoned. People in the industry believe price increases for highly sought after materials, paired with the company's attempt to remain competitive by dropping prices has contributed to its problems. "Some of their build contracts I couldn't justify what they were selling it for," said one subbie. "It seems to be a trend when builders are struggling financially they drop the contract prices to get more money in the door straight away but it destroys them later down the track as it becomes unattainable."
There are no complaints against the company in relation to money owed and the latest information provided to the QBCC indicate it is meeting minimum financial requirements
According to QBCC data, the number of projects undertaken by PlanBuild has been declining since 2015 when it built 133 homes valued at more than $30m.
The QBCC says the minimum financial requirement laws help to monitor the financial health of a licensee, and give it a better chance of stepping in to take appropriate regulatory action, before a company enters insolvency.
When licensees with a high turnover enter insolvency, they can have a devastating effect on the people working with them, including the suppliers, subcontractors, workers and consumers.
According to ASIC, there aren't any current notices of liquidation or other formal action against the company.
Originally published as Watchdog probes Qld builder over closure fears