Subbies out $3m over luxury development
MORE than 20 subcontractors say they're owed at least $3 million for their work on a project by comeback luxury apartment developer and former V8 Supercar driver Mark Howard.
Howard Group launched three major projects this year, including the beachfront Elysium at Mermaid Beach, 19 Broadbeach Avenue and Atmosphere at Ashmore.
Apartments at the Broadbeach project had starting prices of $2.8 million, with property records showing at least three apartments had sold at a total of $9.4 million.
The builder for the Howard Group projects, TPD Builders, has launched court action against three of Mr Howard's companies, claiming it hasn't been fully paid by the developer and so cannot pay its subcontractors.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission suspended the builder's licence last week after "monies-owed" complaints.
Tradies, including plumbers, painters, cabinet-makers and others, met yesterday to discuss how to tackle the dispute that threatens to destroy their livelihoods.
Canadian-born former Mr Howard went under in 2012, when US group Morgan Stanley appointed receivers to his companies.
At the time, he was well advanced on the $170 million Sphere residential project in Southport, and owned development sites in Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach.
A mortgagee auctioned Mr Howard's former two-title Millionaires' Row property for $6.6 million to retired cotton farmer Alan Frost in 2014.
The property broke this year's sales record in April when it sold again to bottleshop baron Bruce Mathieson for $11.6 million.
Mr Howard told the Bulletin it was "a dispute between the builder and the developer".
"As far as I'm concerned, the builder's been paid and if the subcontractors have a dispute about being paid they should take it up with the builder.
"It is before the court and I don't want to get into a detailed discussion."
The sole director of TPD Builders, Aaron Thompson, declined to comment on the case yesterday.
Tradies on the job claim they left before completing important gas, electrical, fire certification, pool fencing and joinery work.
Some have reported their allegations to the QBCC, which said it had suspended the builder's licence "due to financial concerns".
"This follows an ongoing investigating into monies-owed complaints, suspected unlicensed contracting and allegations of certification issues," the regulator said.
"If the QBCC's investigation uncovers evidence of misconduct by a certifier or any other breaches to the QBCC Act, then appropriate enforcement action will be taken.
"Anyone owed money by TPD Builders Pty Ltd is urged to contact the QBCC as soon as possible."
Mr Howard said he believed "all the certifications for the building were achieved".
"The building was fully certified," he said.
"The balance of the work was cosmetic.
"It's disappointing to finish great projects and have a dispute."
Among the subcontractors who say they're out of pocket is Gaven cabinetry and joinery business Tasklake.
Tasklake's Jim McFarlane said while his family's business would be able to survive its $266,000 shortfall, some of the smaller companies caught up in the mess would not.
"We can ride this sort of stuff but we've got some subbies here who are fairly small operators and they're owed $180,000-200,000," he said.
"Something's got to be done about it."
Mr McFarlane said he'd chased his money from the builder, who said he was yet to be fully paid by the developer.
"That's when I put the flag up and called the other subbies that I knew that were working on the site."
Some of about 15 subbies at the Tasklake meeting yesterday, mostly small-to-medium businesses, were owed as much as $290,000 each.
Mr Howard yesterday said most apartment sales in the Broadbeach projects had settled and, as far as he knew, the building had been properly certified.
Public property records, which can take several weeks to be updated, show three of the seven apartments in 19 Broadbeach had sold, for $2.9 million, $3.195 million and $3.295 million.