13 Jun 2022

Pivotal Homes staff terminated, customer set to lose $18k as construction company collapses

A Queensland family has lost their $18,000 deposit while staff were terminated immediately, with no warning of the company’s impending collapse.

A Queensland family has been left reeling after learning that their $18,177 home deposit is in jeopardy because the building company has gone bust.

Mum-of-two Ashley Wu, 38, and her husband, bought a vacant lot in Ipswich, 40km from the Brisbane CBD, in October last year.

They planned to build a dual property for $363,500 and signed with Gold Coast-based construction firm Pivotal Homes.

But late on Thursday, managing director of Pivotal Homes, Michael Irwin, revealed that the company had collapsed.

He cited rising labour and construction costs as the main reason the company was forced to go into liquidation.

The future of Pivotal Homes’ more than 200 new home builds has now been thrown into chaos, including that of Ms Wu.

“I don't know what to do now,” she told news.com.au. “I don't know what’s going to happen, I really hope we can get the money back.”

Ms Wu was especially blindsided by the shocking announcement because just a day earlier, she had been negotiating a new price for the build and had come to an agreement, in what she says must have been a sign that staff had no idea of the company’s impending demise.

Indeed, Pivotal Homes’ sales manager Tom Egan told news.com.au that he and the company’s 15 other workers were corralled into a boardroom around lunch time on Thursday, where they were all terminated on the spot.

Looking back, Ms Wu said there were some red flags hinting that Pivotal Homes was in trouble.

According to the mum, her build was doomed from the beginning thanks to constant delays and then a strange request from the company asking for more money despite an already agreed upon price.

After purchasing the empty lot in October 2021, the land title was meant to be registered in her and her husband’s name in December.

However, this didn’t end up happening until April this year.

Earlier this year, Pivotal Homes asked Ms Wu if she would fork out an extra $34,000 for her $363,500 build.

Ms Wu consulted with her solicitor, who said legally she didn’t have to pay them any extra because the contract was fixed.

But understanding the stress the building sector was under, Ms Wu negotiated with the company and ended up agreeing to pay an additional $24,000.

On Wednesday, they finally reached an agreement, which is why the land owner was confused to hear that just a day later the company had gone bust.

Staff were also asking Ms Wu to sign off on drawing contracts that could then be sent to the local council less than 24 hours before the company officially went under.

“I really regret buying this [land] to be honest,” she said. “I should have bought something that was already built. I’m very scared to build now.”

So far, Ms Wu has not received any direct communication from the company informing her that it has gone into liquidation or what to do to get her money back.

News.com.au has contacted Pivotal Homes for comment.

Tom Egan, the head sales manager for Pivotal Homes, said he and a dozen or so other staff members were “devastated” by the company’s sudden collapse.

“No one knew,” Mr Egan, who has worked in the construction sector for 25 years, told news.com.au.

“At 1.30pm [on Thursday] everyone was called to the boardroom. The liquidator advised that we were terminated.

“It’s devastating for everybody, you had staff there [who had been working for] up to 10 years.”

Mr Egan emphasised that nobody knew it was coming, explaining: “All bills were paid, nothing was ever unpaid, there was no warning sign.”

Dozens of angry customers have contacted him demanding answers, even though he no longer works for the company.

He said anyone left out of pocket from the collapse should get in touch with the liquidators, Chris Cook and James Robba of Worrell’s.

Affected homeowners can also claim home warranty insurance, which is administered by the Queensland government through the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).

The construction industry has been badly hit by collapses this year.

Two major Australian construction companies including Gold Coast-based Condev and industry giant Probuild have already gone into liquidation this year.

Smaller operators like Hotondo Homes Hobart and Perth firms Home Innovation Builders and New Sensation Homes, as well as Sydney-based firm Next have also collapsed, leaving homeowners out of pocket and with unfinished houses.

An industry insider told news.com.au earlier this year that half of Australia’s building companies are on the brink of collapse as they trade insolvent, and it could see thousands of people’s homes impacted in the coming months.

SOURCE: https://www.news.com.au/finance/real-estate/brisbane-qld/pivotal-homes-staff-terminated-customer-set-to-lose-18k-as-construction-company-collapses/news-story/b55efa1894bd52aa4b7daeeae9a5d842

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