Australia: As everyone else moves in, BGC client told it’ll be another year before she gets a roof

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When Emma* looks down the street in the housing estate where she is building her new home she sees finished houses with landscaped gardens and cars in the driveway.

Her neighbours have moved in, but work on her house and a neighbouring property, also being built by BGC, has stalled at plate height, with her builder BGC Housing Group blaming labour and material shortages for the delays in completing her home.

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“After two years I still don’t have a roof, and I’ve been told it will be another year before it’s finished,” she said.

“How can BGC blame the delays on labour and material shortages when all the other new builds, which had their land titled at the same time in early 2021, have been finished?”

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Emma believes the delays could be because the construction giant, WA’s largest builder, signed on more clients than it could service in a reasonable time frame.

The situation has taken a huge personal toll on Emma and her family, forced to live apart while they wait for the keys to their new home.

“My young adult kids have been shipped off to their father and student accommodation because I can’t afford to pay both rent and mortgage payments anymore,” she said.

“I am bunking down with a friend and I am virtually homeless.

“I have been robbed of my dog, the last years with my kids and the so-called Building Bonus grant due to interest rate rises, rent rises and extra rent paid.”

It’s a story familiar to Katie*. For the past year she has been living in a lounge room at her partner’s parents’ small three-bedroom home. She is another client left homeless because of lengthy delays in finishing a build with BGC.

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She signed up to build a home with the company in December 2020 and was told it would be completed in around nine months.

“We are now in December 2022 and I haven’t got a roof,” she said.

“Our build has taken so long that I didn’t re-sign the lease agreement on my rental because I thought I’d be in my house by now.”

Katie said the delays had taken a heavy toll on her mental health and her finances.

“BGC blamed the shortage on materials, then it was the skills shortage, yet people who received their land titles in the estate at the same time are already living in their new homes.”

WAtoday has been contacted by many other clients who have waited two years and some longer for their homes to be completed by BGC.

Many are suffering financially - paying for their belongings to be in storage whilst also servicing a mortgage on their unfinished home, enduring multiple price increases on their build while at the same time being at the mercy of Perth’s tight rental market. They have no way of knowing how much longer they’ll be waiting.

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Michelle Babicci signed a contract with BGC in August 2020 to build her home in Jindalee. She was told she would be in her new home by Christmas 2021.

“I’m still waiting,” she said.

“I was told in September 2021 I had to vacate my rental because the landlord was selling it, so I asked BGC how much longer will it take before the house would be finished.

“I never could get a date of them and still can’t. I’m told it might be before Christmas but nothing is confirmed.”

The retired dance teacher, who also has multiple sclerosis, said her life was in limbo while she waited for the property to be finished.

“Since September 2021 I’ve been paying $440 a month for my belongings to be in storage, I’ve now moved four times staying with my daughter on her couch and with friends. Soon I will have nowhere to stay.”

BGC Housing Group includes Aussie Living Homes, Homestart, Smart Homes for Living, Now Living, Terrace and Ventura South West. Commodore Homes remains under BGC Housing Group but was closed to new sales in June.

Hundreds of BGC Housing Group customers frustrated by lengthy delays to build a new home are launching a legal fight for compensation from the construction giant.

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The current clients of WA’s largest and Australia’s fourth-largest home builder have secured Morgan Alteruthemeyer Legal Group to represent them and are sourcing litigation funding to bankroll a class action in the Federal Court.

A BGC spokeswoman defended its build times saying they were in line with current industry standards of between 18 and 24 months for construction.

“Residential construction across Australia has been impacted by severe labour and material shortages as a result of the pandemic,” she said.

*Names have been changed

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