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Queensland offers free mediators to deal with building disputes

Homeowners and builders in Queensland caught in the “perfect storm” of rising prices and material shortages now have access to free help to get their homes built. The Accelerated Builder/Consumer Dispute (ABCD) service went live on 1 July with free professional mediators to help frustrated homeowners and embattled builders find a way to get their homes completed. Source: Timberbiz

Minister for Public Works Mick de Brenni said the State Government had taken action after industry groups pleaded for help for members caught between the pandemic’s effect on global supply chains and the boom in construction activity across the State.

Critical shortages in materials meant some builders were struggling to keep going on homes or facing huge cost increases.

“COVID, HomeBuilder and low interest rates, when added to Queensland’s strong economic recovery from the pandemic, have drawn more people to move to the state, creating a ‘perfect storm’ for supplies and skills shortages,” Mr de Brenni said.

“The ABCD will give homeowners and builders a way to get together with the help of a professional problem solver and achieve what both sides ultimately signed up for – builders want to get the job done and homeowners want to get into their homes.”

The independent third-party mediation service is available through the QBCC website and expected to run for the next 12 months.

Queensland’s $45 billion construction industry and its 240,000 jobs were a critical part of the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID19 Economic Recovery Plan, Mr de Brenni said.

“We are working hard with key industry stakeholders including Master Builders Association Queensland, the Housing Industry Association and Building Industry Products Council to support consumers, contractors and manufacturers through the current challenges,” Mr de Brenni said.

Housing Industry Association executive director Queensland Mike Roberts said builders were under pressure not of their own making with costs soaring within contracts that were already signed.

“This situation is no one’s fault,” Mr Roberts said.“We need people to be patient and understanding and we thought a mediation process would be useful.”

Master Builders Deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said after months of lobbying and consultation the new framework will be welcomed by the residential building sector in Queensland and help to achieve better outcomes for those facing the impact of shortages of materials and trades.

“Designed to open the lines of communication, this new framework will arm builders and their customers with the right information to discuss reasonable and realistic solutions and navigate the impact of these shortages, delays and cost escalations,” Mr Bidwell said.

“The reality is the current situation is through no fault of builders or their clients but merely a perfect storm created by the HomeBuilder grant, ultra-low interest rates, record interstate migration and the early access to Super scheme.

“While it’s not a silver bullet and won’t solve everyone’s woes, it is a significant step forward and will hopefully ease some of the pressure.

“Once this new framework starts to make inroads, we look forward to working with the state government on a longer-term dispute resolution process to further improve how building disputes in Queensland are handled.”