The Gladstone Designer Homes team (from left): head carpenter Mitchell Rehbein, site supervisor Trevor Williams and owner Chris Allen.
The Gladstone Designer Homes team (from left): head carpenter Mitchell Rehbein, site supervisor Trevor Williams and owner Chris Allen. Emily Kemp

Local builder slams cut-price construction methods

AS countless new housing estates pop up in Gladstone, concerns have been expressed about the speed and potentially compromised quality sometimes involved in getting the much-needed developments up.

Local building industry professionals say cheaper price points are winning the contracts over locals with many years' experience and pride in quality service.

One of the biggest differences is in regards to house foundations - that is using a traditional or a foam base.

Gladstone Designer Homes owner Chris Allen said the foam waffle pod scratched a few thousand off the house price, but you could pay for it later.

"The owners, if they do go that way, they can get a saving of $7000-$10,000," he said.

"Traditionally the foundations that all the local builders are using are a lot stronger and proven, whereas the waffle pod design, the termites do actually eat the foam, which actually is basically building a nest under your house.

"And most builders use all full treated pine frames. A lot of house frames going up are just standard pines.

"Summing it up, it's a really cheap way to do it to save on concrete and sand.

"When you're spending $300,000 on a house, for the extra $8000-$10,000, that's money well spent."

Mr Allen likes to use the phrase "comparing apples with apples" for what people should be thinking about when considering housing options.

"When people come in to price the house, the out-of-towners are a lot cheaper, you know they're not giving the same product," he said.

"They're not staying around, and if there are problems with the houses, a lot of them won't be there."

While "out-of-towners" is a choice word, Mr Allen doesn't want to tar all businesses with the same brush.

"Not generalising all of them. There would probably be some good builders in town, but when you see them doing things as cheap and nasty as they can, quality is definitely going out the door," he said.

Mr Allen prides his company on delivery a quality product and said they would not put foam under a house.

"We just wouldn't do it. If clients say, 'Look we want to drop 10 grand off'' we would just refuse to do it and say, 'Look, you might have to go to the other builders'.

"I would rather go fishing than build a crappy house."

Quality counts

  • Waffle pod design - level the ground, sit the foam box on top of the ground, put some boxing around it, pour the concrete on top of the foam mesh
  • Traditional - first do a deep concrete footing, compact sand down, pour a slab on top, you get a nice solid house slab.

How to avoid shoddy work

  •  Research the builder - their reputation, length of time in business, previous examples of work, and policies for maintenance after construction.
  •  Search for the builder on the Building Services Authority website for more information.


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