I’ve experienced firsthand the chaos caused when a builder goes bankrupt. So if you’re embarking on home improvements, please protect yourself!
The news that one of Victoria’s big builders, St Hilliers Construction, has gone bust is yet another warning to consumers that they should be extremely wary when choosing a builder.
St Hilliers Construction joins a long list of builders who have fallen victim to the “building industry implosion” in recent years.
I was editor of new homes publication, BuildHOME, when NSW’s largest home builder, Beechwood Homes, went into administration in 2008. It was a horrible time – and not because the company couldn’t pay their huge advertising bill (I couldn’t care less about the publishing bigwigs not getting their money) but because of the 300 families who were left with unfinished homes.
Beechwood Homes was supposed to be on the cover of the magazine that month, and I was profiling a handful of Beechwood owner-builders for a special feature. They were on the phone to me in tears. Just horrible.
Even with home warranty in place, it can take months – even years – to engage a new builder. The original builder’s liability may also be capped, which means you could also be substantially out of pocket.
So the moral of this story is – (and I hate forced morality tales, but there really is one here) do your research and then do some more! Check the builder’s history, conduct reference checks and talk to past customers. If your proposed builder’s contractors are new, this could be a warning sign of difficulties with previous customers.
And this applies to all industries. If you’re employing a web designer – check out their own website, if you’re hiring a cleaner – get them to come for a trial run before signing any contracts…you get the gist.
And never underestimate the power of a good Google. These days we all have a “digital footprint,” which makes it easy to uncover valuable details of the inner-workings of a business – stuff you won’t find on paper.
While there may have been no early warning signs for the customers of St Hilliers Construction and Beechwood Homes, I’m sure they’ll be busting out their best Sherlock Holmes-style investigative moves before they hire ANY businesses in the future.
And we all should too.