May 29, 2023

Building industry watchdog inundated with claims after Oracle Platinum Homes collapse
Hundreds of claims for deposits and unfinished works have been filed after the collapse of Oracle Platinum Homes, as home owners start searching for new builders and others race to finish incomplete builds.
In late August, Oracle Building Corporation, which trades under the name Oracle Platinum Homes and Oracle Hunter Homes, went into liquidation with all 70 staff terminated.
The company collapsed leaving about 300 home owners affected, with construction of their houses ranging from not yet commenced to those nearly completed.
The company was believed to owe about $14 million, according to appointed liquidators Bill Cotter and W. Roland Robson at the time.
Mr Cotter told ABC Radio Brisbane after further assessment, the debts now appeared to be closer to $20 million.
The state's building watchdog, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has contacted all 386 Queensland Home Warranty Scheme policy holders from the past two years who had contracts with the construction company.
The home warranty insurance covers the home owner for losses up to $200,000 if something goes wrong during the build, according to certain criteria
A QBCC spokesperson said the watchdog has received 207 claims, including 57 for return of deposits and 150 non-completion claims.
Of the refund-of-deposit claims, 38 have been approved so far, totalling more than $600,000.
"So far, 70 non-completion claims have been accepted and the process has started to scope the work required to complete those projects," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said approval times for claims will vary depending on a range of factors.
"Simpler claims can be processed quickly, for example, deposit refunds where no work has started," the spokesperson said.
"However, more complex non-completion claims require careful consideration and may therefore take longer to assess."
The Master Builders Associations warn more firms could follow BA Murphy, Privium and Tasmanian Constructions as rising costs take a heavy toll.
Construction had barely begun on Grant and Aimee Beck's dream home when the construction company collapsed.
"We've lodged our QBCC claim for return of deposit, that's going through a process, like all things, it will take time," he said.
"We want to build our home, we've signed up with a new builder and we're going through essentially the start of everything again, design, colours, all those sorts of things.
"It's been two years already so we want to get on with things so we're putting a shed on our block which is separate to Oracle and separate to our new builder.
"We're hoping this time next year, we'll be in our home, version 2.0 as we're calling it."
Paul Ollis engaged Oracle Platinum Homes to build his family's first home in November 2020, and while the start of the build was delayed by a year, when the company collapsed the house was almost completed.
"I was almost at practical completion, which hasn't got us in a better situation, because we've been paying our mortgage for two years as well," he said.
For the past six months, the family has been paying about $1,400 per week to pay off their mortgage on the new home and on rent. 
Oracle is the latest builder to "hit the wall", leaving more than 300 would-be home owners in the lurch. Here's the steps you should take if your builder runs out of cash. 
Since the collapse Mr Ollis said he has felt like he was "on the verge of a breakdown".
"We're so far behind, we're now going to have to live with friends because we can't afford this anymore, paying for two houses. The insurance companies and the liquidators have not been in a rush at all," he said.
"We can't keep treading water."
Mr Ollis said he had attempted to access certificates from the appointed liquidators, but has not received them, and has started arranging for the remaining works to be completed himself because he felt no builder would take on the job. 
Even if Mr Ollis can ensure the house is built to regulatory standards, which he expected would be complete this week, he is not sure when they can move in because he requires the certificates for the final tick of approval. 
"This was meant to be such a wonderful experience for us. It's our first home, we designed it, everything was meant to be exciting and they've turned it into a nightmare," he said.
Mr Cotter would not comment on specific cases, but said liquidators wanted to help home owners as quickly as possible but the process would take time.
He said there were a number of complicating factors, such as some suppliers claiming copyright over certificates, while liquidators are negotiating with other suppliers to locate and obtain certificates, and some home owners who appeared to owe money to the company for works completed.
"We're certainly engaging with those people and continue to sort through all these issues to try and assist everybody to what they're entitled to and get them back on track," he said.
"It will continue to happen over days, weeks, months and potentially even years to sort through all of the issues that are on hand.
"We are very actively trying to deal with all of the issues."
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