A central Queensland man impacted by the collapse of a local building company says he did not know his family’s half-built “dream home” would not be finished — until he read a note in the company’s window.
Metro Builders put the note in its Yeppoon office window over the weekend, informing people that its business had “become unsustainable”.
“Despite injecting personal funds and working closely with a financial advisor, we faced many challenges that were hard to overcome,” the note read.
“Our customers have always been the heart of our business.”
Local man Luke Renshaw said he had so far paid the company $350,000 — including a payment of $80,000 just a few weeks ago — to build a new home with a pool and shed for his family in Tanby.
“It’s lucky we live in Yeppoon. We went down to the office and saw the notice on the wall,” Mr Renshaw said.
“But apart from that we’ve had no correspondence from Metro, nobody in the office to say they’ve shut, no email, call, anything.”
The company was officially put into liquidation this week.
Master Builders’ regional manager, Dennis Bryant, estimated at least 24 homes had been left in various stages of building.
He said now the company had formally gone into liquidation those affected, including Mr Renshaw, could start assistance claims through the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to have their houses finished.
However, Mr Bryant said this process could take months, and if people decided to pay other companies to finish or even protect their half-built homes in the interim, they would not be compensated.
“People are paying rent while they’re waiting for [QBCC to act]; they’re paying interest on their loans,” Mr Bryant said.
“And their structure is subject to the elements and to vandalism. I know that occasionally happens.”
Mr Renshaw said he would be applying to the QBCC, but waiting out the process was coming at a crucial time for his growing family.
“We have another baby on the way. We were planning on being in our new house by the time the baby was due.”
Yet Mr Bryant said it was sub-contractors and tradespeople owed money by Metro who he had the most sympathy for.
“They’re the blokes who are really copping it,” he said.
Company collapse is ‘tragic’ for tradespeople
Master Builders’ Mr Bryant said everybody from tiling companies through to electricians had been impacted by the company’s collapse.
Metro’s liquidators Jirsch Sutherland this week urged people owned money by the company to make contact, before a first report to creditors next week.
However, Mr Bryant said he did not expect sub-contractors to recoup much of their losses.
“They’ve basically got to suck it up. I’m not saying that in a derogatory fashion. It’s tragic for them,” he said.
“People in small businesses have very little ability to absorb a big financial hit, and it could mean that one or two of them might just go under.”
One sub-contractor told the ABC they had not had an invoice paid by Metro since January.
Mr Bryant said this situation showed that there needed to be tighter industry enforcement of rules around when companies should pay invoices lodged by sub-contractors.
On Thursday, the sub-contractor’s union warned that it was dealing with the liquidation of a building company at least once a month.
Metro Builders could not be contacted for comment.