One of Australia’s biggest home building companies has slowed sales to ‘absolute minimum levels’ after dozens of customers complained of building delays.
BGC Housing Group, based in Perth, announced this week it would ‘direct all its resources and attention to completing the builds for our existing customers’.
The decision follows fed-up homeowners banding together and consulting lawyers in a potential class-action lawsuit after some have been forced pay mortgages on building sites sitting half-complete for more than two years.
One customer, Erika Steel, told Daily Mail Australia she signed her contract almost three years ago and her home is still not even close to being finished.
‘If I had gone with another builder I would have been in my house a year ago, my neighbours all started construction after me and have been moved in for a year,’ she said.
Erika Steel was so frustrated she handed out flyers in her area last weekend describing how she has waited almost three years for he house to be built (pictured on her build site)
Angry customers have banded together in a possible class action against BGC Housing Group
BGC Housing Group has several big brands under its umbrella including Aussie Living Homes, Homestart, Smart Homes for Living, Now Living, Terrace and Ventura South West.
Ms Steel signed her contract with Smart Homes in November 2020 for her property in Perth’s outer southern suburbs.
‘Site clearing started in April of 2021, the slab went down August 2021 almost a year later, in July 2022 the roof framing went up… and nothing has been done since then.’
‘It’s now coming up to 2.5 years.’
‘There’s timber on my site that’s sat there all winter and summer and is now mouldy.’
She explained she is ‘on the brink of financial ruin’ because she has been paying mortgage and rent for so long and her owner-builder home loan repayments have soared thanks to interest rate hikes.
Her children have now moved in with their father, she has had to rehome her beloved dog and she is living in a tiny studio apartment while her house sits uncompleted.
She is also furious BGC has built display homes to attract new customers while they have not completed their backlog of work.
‘They have built four show homes 2km from my house that have gone up in four months and mine’s still not finished in 28 months’.
She was so angry she handed out flyers in the area describing her experience – and had now been given a date for when her roof will be finished after six months of no progress.
Another customer Josef Wilkins has been waiting for his Perth home to be finished for more than two years.
‘The biggest issues are not even the build times, it’s the workmanship quality from underpaid tradies, the lack of communication and knowledge from consultants.’ he wrote to Facebook.
‘Clients who have been struggling financially are being taken advantage of. Enough is enough.’
Another customer Josef Wilkins (pictured) said he has also waited more than two years for his house to be built by one of BGC’s companies
Social media is filled with complaints from homebuyers directed at BGC after lengthy delays
Many were annoyed display homes to attract new customers were built while they pay rent and mortgage on unfinished properties
BGC said in a statement that worker shortages were behind the delays.
‘Due to ongoing severe labour shortages across WA, BGC Housing Group has significantly restricted its intake of new home sales to absolute minimum levels,’ a spokesman for the company said.
‘Our focus is entirely on delivery of the houses we have on ground,’ the spokesman said.
But rather than offering attractive pay to entice workers, BGC on February 1 reduced hourly rates for bricklayers.
They are now paid as little as $1.50 per brick, well below the industry standard of $2.60 per internal brick.
The reduced bricklayer rates are $1.50 for internal and $2 for external bricks on single level homes and $1.70 up to $2.20 for double-storey homes.
Ms Steel said BGC had taken on more work than it had the ability to complete in a reasonable period in an effort to cash in on building stimulus efforts.
WA Premier Mark McGowan was on Wednesday forced to reject claims the state government had caused the building bottleneck by offering grants of $20,000 on top of the federal $25,000 HomeBuilder grant.
The stimulus caused a rush of new builds – BGC has just under 4,000 homes under construction, out of the 30,000 across the state.
‘When we went to the Commonwealth government in 2020, home sales and signups of new homes stopped completely,’ McGowan said.
‘The market was dead… we had to do something to kick start it.’
BGC has just under 4,000 home builds under construction across WA (pictured is one site)
One customer complained that she and her partner have been waiting 2.5 years and she was getting ready to give birth but still did not have their own home
It’s little consolation to Ben Ledbury who signed up with BGC company HomeStart in January, 2021.
‘We were told if we signed up it would be completed within 12 months by December that year.’ he said on Wednesday.
‘More than two years later I’m only just getting a roof put on, hopefully, today.’
‘There’s also still heaps left to be done – windows, doors, electrical, internal fitting. I’d be surprised if it’s finished this year.
‘We’ve had price increases as well as the extensions of more than 300 days on top of what it was supposed to take.
‘And the communication is shocking = they’ll lie tell you something is happening when its not.’
He said early on Wednesday there was a progress payment taken out of his bank account for the roof being completed when it hadn’t been, which BGC apologised to him for.
His situation echoes Ms Steel’s and dozens of others who have joined the potential class action.
‘I’ve been paying rent on top of my mortgage for more than two years – it’s hard.’
‘What’s even harder to take is where I’m building, there are other houses that have been done. They were empty lots when mine started and now there’s people living in them and I’m still waiting.’
‘When I met first met with them I was with my mum who is building with another company and they even told her that they were cowboys – her house is finished.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted BGC for comment.