Builders held back by liability issues
Builders are becoming fearful of the cost and safety risks of faulty products.
A new Master Builders Queensland survey has found innovation within the building sector is being held back by on-going issues with non-conforming products.
The fear of product failure and cost of rectification is leaving builders reluctant to try new materials from new suppliers.
The survey found just 22 per cent of builders regularly seek out new products from new suppliers.
Two thirds of builders said they stick with the same products from the same suppliers.
Master Builders deputy chief executive officer Paul Bidwell says builders did not want to be held liable for product defects.
Queensland holds builders liable to rectify any work that becomes structurally defective (e.g. leaking roofs or showers) within six years and three months from when the work is completed.
Newer and smaller businesses in particular said they would struggle immensely in the event that products turned out not to be up to standard.
Mr Bidwell says this has created a fear amongst builders when trying new products from new suppliers that they could end up paying twice – once when buying the product and again when replacing it.
“The main reason they might go with what they know is that if it doesn’t work, then they end up having to fix it,” Mr Bidwell said.
“They end up paying twice.
“It’s that risk hanging over their head which means that they are weary of trying new products and new processes.”
Mr Bidwell said tighter laws should help reduce the risk of trying new things, and applauded recent Queensland legislation that pushes liability for failed products up the supply chain.
“At the moment, the builder wears all the responsibility,” he said.
“If there is something that is a structural defect, the builder has to fix it. Even though he brought it in good faith, there is no one else for him to go for.”