Politicians claim Champion Homes delayed construction in Bungarribee; NSW Fair Trading investigating

ACCUSED: A Champion Homes house under construction in Bunya Estate, Bungarribee, in September 2016. The builder has denied accusations it deliberately delayed construction to penalise customers. Picture: Anna Kucera
ACCUSED: A Champion Homes house under construction in Bunya Estate, Bungarribee, in September 2016. The builder has denied accusations it deliberately delayed construction to penalise customers. Picture: Anna Kucera

Champion Homes is under investigation following complaints the company used deliberate delay tactics to extract more money from customers.

Scores of residents from Bungarribee estate have taken exception to a clause that invokes a financial penalty if construction exceeds a certain number of days from when the contract was signed.

Champion Homes managing director Steve Malesev said the delays were beyond the company’s control, and the price variation was in accordance with rising costs of labour and materials.

“We’re not causing any delays, deliberately or otherwise. Unfortunately delays are happening because various landowners are having difficulties in getting their land ready for registration,” Mr Malesev said.

“We’ve been building good quality homes, there’s no complaints about our workmanship. Unfortunately people did have to pay the extra money because we had to wait far too long to start the works.”

Mr Malesev said the warning about variations is made clear to customers on the first page of their contract.

Blacktown MP John Robertson has raised the matter twice in NSW Parliament, and recently met with mayor Stephen Bali to discuss the allegations.

Cr Bali said it was “common practice” for a builder to lodge a development application (DA) before formal land registration, often in new release areas, but that a construction certificate (CC) can not be issued until the land is registered.

“In some instances there have been months between land registration and DA lodgement, then months between DA approval and CC being applied for and issued by the private certifier,” Cr Bali said. “There have not been any undue delays on council’s behalf.”

A NSW Fair Trading spokeswoman confirmed the department is investigating Champion Homes “following the receipt of a number of complaints from consumers”.

“The investigation into the builder’s practices is ongoing and appropriate action will be taken if it is found to be in breach of legislation,” she said.

Mr Malasev said he was unaware of any investigation, but was confident the company would be exonerated.

“Champion Homes is not and has not been guilty of causing deliberate delays with commencing building works for any owner,” he said.

“I’m not blaming anybody. I’m just saying, for whatever reason, land takes a lot longer to register than what people are anticipating.”