A Melbourne builder has “disappeared” placing homeowners under a “horrendous” amount of stress as they are left with half finished homes they have poured hundreds of thousands into that they may struggle to complete.
One family impacted are Dean and Nolle Fuller, who have five children between them, and have already shelled out $480,000 to the builder called Blint, since signing on in January.
The couple had demolished their existing home last November and had engaged Blint Builders to build two townhouses for $1.5 million, due to be delivered early next year.
The slab for the two homes was laid and the first floor framing has been done on both but then work started to slow down in the middle of this year, according to Mr Fuller.
But the 54-year-old said alarm bells really started to sound when his wife drove past the site in the first week of June and discovered that the portaloo had been taken away and a tradition was on site collecting his materials.
She then went straight to the builder’s office only to discover it locked up, while her calls went unanswered.
Two days later on June 9, the owner of Blint told the Fullers he was going into voluntary administration but since then they have heard “nothing”, with emails and phone calls left unanswered and the office empty.
Building site targeted
Their building site has been broken into leaving it a “mess”, Mr Fuller said.
“In that time, we have had two lots of vandalizing and trespassing and damage caused to our property, which has been lodged with police,” Mr Fuller told news.com.au.
“We have had a truck back up and dump three to four square meters of rubble and waste material on the property and the truck also smashed the gates down.
“Recently someone turned up and stole the electrical meter box within the property.”
The project manager said the experience had caused an “unbelievable amount of stress and anxiety”.
“We have half a million dollars outlaid on something that is sitting still and… sitting on a block that is wasting away and not covered by insurance potentially,” he said.
“We are in a situation that we may be forced to compromise significantly on what was our dream home to build.
“We are financially impacted and may have sell off things to complete the build as there have been cost increases and delays. The property we have might have to be stripped right back to be rebuilt, notwithstanding that we have got to pay rent and that we have to be out of this rental by Christmas.”
left in limbo
Mr Fuller said his family would have to negotiate to stay in the rental meaning his, including three of their children, would be forced to be crammed into the small property for another 10 to 12 months.
I have added it’s been almost impossible to find out information when “all we want to do is build a house” and instead they are left in “limbo”.
“It takes a lot of time and hours with pursuing legal options and between the Housing Industry Association and banks and insurance companies it’s relentless,” I explained.
“We are all sitting on insurance policies but because the trigger is Blint going into voluntary administration, none of us can trigger the insurance policies. So we are sitting on property we can’t do anything with as we can’t engage new builders.”
Mr Fuller said it’s a “frustrating” experience and just wants answers from the builder.
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Blint Builder’s office in the Melbourne suburb of Highett has also been seized by the landlord.
Legal documents posted on the front door show the landlord has executed their right to re-entry, terminating the lease and demanding all property be removed and the keys be returned.
The legal notice also revealed that Blint Builders owe the landlord close to $14,000 in unpaid rent and rates.
Emails to Blint are undeliverable, while news.com.au has called, left voicemails and sent text messages to the builder but has not heard back.
Another family who are under “horrendous strain” are Tony and Jo Firman and their two children, who are building a home specially designed for her disability.
Mrs Firman has multiple sclerosis and the couple were building a home to meet her needs in the Melbourne suburb of Mordialloc, which included a swimming pool.
They had demolished the original home and signed up to build their $1.2 million house with Blint, which was scheduled to be finished in mid February.
The couple said they have paid $1.14 million so far to the builder and the house is at lock up stage but no work has happened since early June, according to Mr Firman.
“There is no carpet, it hasn’t been painted and there are serious defects that need to be rectified, so there’s still quite a bit of work,” he claimed.
The 54-year-old said he even went to Blint’s office twice in June to find out about the progress of the home.
But since then the builder has “disappeared off the face of the Earth” with Mr Firman’s calls and emails going unanswered, he claimed
“It went from talking to him every day to him never ringing me back and never hearing from him,” he said.
Being left in limbo has taken a toll on him with the online retailer saying he has “never felt more depressed in my life”.
“It’s a massive strain on us as a family, both financially as we are paying rent as well as paying off part of the house that we can’t even live in it as we have no occupancy certificate,” he added.
‘Sending us broke’
Mr Firman said they can’t get a payout from the insurance company until Blint goes into liquidation and it could “cost a lot of money to force that to happen” through the courts.
“Even with the full insurance payout it might not be enough money. We skimped and saved and borrowed quite a substantial amount of money. We are worried we won’t make enough money to repay the loan and be able to live,” he said.
“I fear that this will send us broke.
“It’s very touch and go for us at the moment … My daughter turns 21 next month and her only wish was to have the party at the new house and that won’t happen.”
Dad-of-three Jamie* had also signed up with Blint in March 2021 to renovate and extend their two bedroom house in the Melbourne suburb of Murrumbeena for $730,000.
The family had planned a double storey addition out the back with a new kitchen, living area and kids’ bedrooms and are currently living in a rental.
Jamie said the work was “slow going” and the family had forked out $600,000 so far.
Now they’ve been left with a half built home, even though it was due to be complete in April, and he describes the site as “quite derelict”.
Jamie confronted the builder at his home in June and was told Rodger Reidy had been appointed to handle the voluntary administrators.
But when he contacted the insolvency specialist firm he was told that it was not the case and Rodger Reidy also confirmed with news.com.au they had not been appointed.
Now, he can’t get in touch with Blint with the phone turned off and emails unanswered.
The 43-year-old said he just wants to be able to finish the home, even if it costs the family an extra $50,000, but he has been left in limbo, adding he is “exhausted and frustrated”.
News.com.au understands a number of suppliers are also owed money from Blint.
*Name changed for privacy reasons