A young couple have been forced to watch their unfinished dream home rot before their eyes after its builder abandoned it for a year before finally going bankrupt this week.
Eliza Burke, 27, and her partner Jai Green, 31, have postponed their wedding and plans for a second child since signing a $360,000 contract with Brisbane-based Pantha Homes in December 2020.
More than two years later, they’re still nowhere near moving into the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the north Brisbane seaside suburb of Newport.
The family has spent their life savings on legal fees and experts to try to salvage the disaster.
They already have $120,000 out of pocket, and they expect that will to grow to more than $150,000 even after they are bailed out by state construction industry insurance.
Eliza Burke, 27, and her partner Jai Green, 31, have postponed their wedding and second child since signing a $360,000 contract with Pantha Homes in December 2020.
This was their dream home that Eliza Burke and Jai Green commissioned Pantha Homes to build
More than two years later, this rotten frame is what they were left with on the site in Newport, north of Brisbane.
In another blow, the final price of the couple’s home is now over $550,000 due to rising costs since they first signed the lease, which they may not even be able to afford.
“We are first-time homeowners,” Ms. Burke said.
‘We don’t even know if we’ll be able to get a mortgage for that amount yet.
‘We don’t know if we will be able to live in the house once it is built. It is a real nightmare.
Eliza was pregnant when they signed the contract with Pantha, but now she hopes her two-year-old son Atlas will be ready to start school if they move in Christmas 2024.
“We had originally planned for one of the rooms to be her nursery, but we won’t need it anymore,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
The couple have faced mounting bills since signing with Pantha Homes, which is now being wound up by liquidators after 18 years in business.
They had to wait nearly a year after putting down their $80,000 deposit before the slab was laid in October 2021 and another four months passed until the frame was erected in February 2022.
But since then all work has stopped and they say the timber frame is rotten with mold while the laminate is now peeling and weeds are growing out of the slab.
“Last year we had over $50,000 in the bank, now we have our last $1,000 left,” said Mr. Green, an Afghanistan war veteran who left the military after nine years and now works as a carpenter.
We’ve had to spend all of that on legal fees and mold testing experts to prove to Pantha that the wood is rotting.
“The entire framework will have to be demolished and replaced once work finally restarts.”
He said company bosses had given them a litany of excuses when they questioned the lack of work on the site.
“I’m a carpenter by trade and I realize it’s a tough environment, so we tried to be understanding, but then we were just taken for granted,” Green said.
They said they couldn’t find dealers and there were engineering delays. They obviously tried to blame all weather events.
They blamed the war on Russia, even though Russia and Ukraine war trade restrictions were put in place after the date they claimed was affected.
“They even tried to say the house was in a swamp that was causing the mold – it’s a coastal wetland and the median home price is $1.3 million. It’s not a swamp!
They have tried every excuse under the sun.
In another blow, the family is now battling the tough rental market after Mr Green left the ADF and lost his home with defense supplies while waiting for his home to be built.
“We just didn’t expect to have to pay this level of rent waiting for the job to be completed,” Ms. Burke said.
“And we didn’t expect to pay interest, just on our loan and double interest rates and all that kind of stuff over this long period of time.”
All work stopped on the site a year ago and they say the timber framing is rotten with mold while the laminate is now peeling and weeds are growing out of the slab.
The couple have now contacted several other families facing similar issues, including this site in Griffin, in Moreton Bay, Queensland.
Pantha Homes faced a devastating drop from 48 developments worth $13.6 million in projects in 2020/21 to just 11 projects worth $4.1 million in the past two years.
The couple have been in contact with several other families facing similar problems since finding out Pantha had gone bankrupt this week.
“For us, it was actually a relief and now we can move on,” Ms Burke said.
We have our claim with Queensland Building and Construction Commission insurance.
‘But there are others who have been waiting for more than three years for their house to be built, and QBCC insurance coverage runs out after two years.
It is terrible for them. These poor people will be left with absolutely nothing.’
Mr Green added: ‘As a carpenter we wanted to support a small family business that was local.
‘We thought they would take more care in building the house.
‘Unfortunately it has been a very bad choice. If we could change it, we would, but we can’t.
Pantha Homes has faced a huge drop from 48 developments worth $13.6 million worth of projects in 2020/21 to just 11 projects worth $4.1 million in the past two years.
Liquidator Roland Robson is still investigating the scale of the possible losses and the extent of the unfinished construction.
The company has since removed its Facebook page, but its website still promotes its construction projects. The business’s main phone number now plays a recorded message saying the business is closed.
Australia’s struggling construction industry
The company is facing a similar fate after reports of skyrocketing material prices surfaced and the company warned staff it was a “critical time.”
With more than 2,500 employees and an estimated 4,000 projects in the pipeline, a Metricon collapse would have huge consequences for many owners.
Interim CEO Peter Langfelder denied that they are facing insolvency problems, saying Metricon remains a viable business.
‘There is simply no basis for these rumours. Metricon is a solid and viable business without any solvency problems,” he said.
‘The biggest challenge facing Australia is getting more homes built for more Australian families and as the country’s largest homebuilder we are the ones who must deliver.
“We are dealing with ‘business as usual’ issues sensitively due to Mario’s sudden and untimely death.
Metricon is meeting with government officials to discuss its future.
The company invested $3 million in a Gold Coast cryptocurrency and more than half a million to a Christian charity in a last-ditch effort before it went under.
The Privium group, a conglomerate of companies best known for homebuilding, went into liquidation in December, and a report on its finances found they had likely been operating while insolvent.
Hundreds of properties have been left unfinished due to Privium’s bankruptcy, and founder and CEO Rob Harder said they are “deeply sorry.”
Brisbane-based Privium, which includes property developer Impact Homes, has built homes in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
The pandemic affected the group’s business, with construction sites shutting down across the country, but particularly in Victoria due to the state’s long lockdown in 2020.
The administrators, however, believe that it was a series of investments that were responsible for their downfall rather than Covid, citing the $3 million crypto clearing.
He converted the cash into Bartercard dollars which were later converted into Qoin coins, a Gold Coast-based currency.
They also highlighted a $530,000 donation to the Christian charity Love Your World, which counts Rachel, the wife of Privium founder Mr. Harder, as one of its directors.
The sum was paid in four installments in 2021, while a special dividend of $50,000 was also paid to Love Your World in 2019.
These payments could also be in breach of the directors’ duties.
The Sydney-based company went under in April, blaming the pandemic, rising material costs and even flooding for its demise.
Next, which specializes in affordable student and senior care housing, collapsed due $5 million to creditors, including $400,000 to employees.
His biggest project, a $35 million student apartment complex in Kensington, next door to UNSW, is now in doubt.
The Gold Coast firm collapsed in January, a month before ProBuild, with $1 billion worth of projects on the Queensland coast in the works.
Condev founders Steve and Tracy Marais tried unsuccessfully to secure a $25 million ransom from the developers, and Ms Marais said she believed other companies would suffer the same fate.
They have been forced to abandon a series of new developments, including a new complex on the Cannes Waterfront in Surfers Paradise.