BSA to send homeowners letters about building problems

HUNDREDS of homeowners in the Springfield Lakes, Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley regions will soon receive letters asking whether concrete slab defects are causing their house structure to move excessively.

Queensland's Building Services Authority has the green light to send the letters after a Supreme Court justice dismissed an application from construction company Coral Homes Queensland to stop them.

The building regulator has directed Coral Homes to rectify defective building work in eight houses and proposed sending caution letters to 628 homeowners which are in high-risk locations, where soils swell during high rainfall periods and shrink excessively with low rainfall.

Coral Homes argued the fault lay with an independent consulting engineer who produced the structural design for each house.

The company also argued the Building Services Act did not empower the authority to write such letters, that the BSA's function was to react to complaints rather than encourage them, and the letter could cause "enormous and unwarranted damage" to the business' reputation.

The letter will ask homeowners to check for excessive cracks to internal walls, external brickwork or rendered wall surfaces, whether doors and windows have jammed or become difficult to open and if floors have developed a slope.

The BSA also lists ways it can help homeowners remedy the problems, including an insurance scheme or directing the builder to rectify the situation.

Justice Philip McMurdo said the proposed letter would alert homeowners to possible defects which were more serious than they might appreciate and alert them to potential remedies.

"To alert homeowners to such a problem and to encourage them to make a complaint in that circumstance is not improper; rather, it is to provide support, education and advice of a kind within (the Act)," he said.

Justice McMurdo said another ground Coral Homes had argued was that they had not been allowed "meaningful dialogue" to persuade the QBSA its concerns for these other houses were misplaced.

But he said that was unrealistic because the BSA "does not know which houses do have apparent structural defects, and if so their nature and extent".

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