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NSW watchdog launches investigation into Australia’s top home builder as more complaints emerge

Metricon, the country’s biggest home builder, will be investigated by NSW Fair Trading after a recent surge in complaints.

It follows revelations Metricon has been terminating fixed-price contracts and withholding commission fees from some of its agents.

More than 60 complaints have been lodged with Fair Trading since March, with Metricon listed on the regulator’s complaints register — which was updated late Thursday — for the last four consecutive months.

The register identifies companies that receive 10 or more complaints in a month.

In June, 18 complaints were made about Metricon which was well above the 11 lodged for Rescon Builders, which has gone into administration. 

Complaints about the home builder’s quality of service were most prevalent, followed by issues with the quality of work. Several complaints lodged were in relation to building contracts.

Prior to this, Metricon rarely appeared on the register, featuring once in 2022.

The home building giant has 395 new homes in the construction pipeline in NSW alone this year.

It’s understood a brief of evidence will be produced after the regulator interviews dozens of affected customers and gathers photos and documents. Disciplinary action can range from warning letters and penalty notices to enforceable undertakings, civil or criminal proceedings.

The NSW Building Commissioner David Chandler is currently unable to intervene, as legislation to expand his powers to cover residential homes, or Class 1 buildings, won’t be introduced to parliament for several months.

A spokesperson for Metricon said in a statement it takes the quality of its work very seriously and “our team works closely with NSW Fair Trading, and we are working through these issues”.

“We rarely appear on the complaints register and are confident we will have these matters quickly resolved.”

Queensland and Victorian regulators said they were unable to comment on action taken against individual builders but would investigate where necessary.

More complaints emerge

Metricon says it takes the quality of its work very seriously.

One Metricon customer, who didn’t lodge a complaint with NSW Fair Trading, said she had felt bullied by the home builder.

She claimed Metricon staff had her sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before agreeing to return her deposit, which gagged her from speaking about her experiences.

Metricon admitted it uses this practice.

“From time to time we have asked a very select few customers to sign NDAs before returning their deposits,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“Typically, this is done to help safeguard our business’s interests and equally to respect the customer’s rights and privacy.”

Subcontractors concerned, Metricon denies allegations

Mid last year when Metricon was in financial turmoil after the sudden death of its founder Mario Biasin, John Goddard from representative body Subbies United publicly supported the home builder.

However, Mr Goddard has told the ABC he was growing concerned about how the builder was treating some of its subcontractors in Queensland.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-07-28/nsw-fair-trading-investigation-into-metricon/102656332 NSW watchdog launches investigation into Australia’s top home builder as more complaints emerge

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