CHARLESTOWN MP Jodie Harrison has launched a scathing attack on a Newcastle builder accusing him of leaving five Hunter families out of pocket and with unfinished or "defect-riddled" homes.
Ms Harrison used parliamentary privilege on Thursday to lash Ben Geary, of BJG Builders, for leaving a string of defective work, failing to comply with rectification orders and placing "enormous pressure" and "financial strain" on his clients.
She also urged the government to "create the necessary protections" so homeowners can undertake the "big financial commitment" of building or renovating their homes "in good faith".
"In the Charlestown electorate two constituents have been left in the lurch after Ben Geary, of BJG Builders Pty Ltd, failed to complete work on their new home at Adamstown Heights to an acceptable standard and also inadequately carried out significant renovations on an existing home at Kahibah," she said.
"Just across the electorate border in Newcastle, three more families have also felt the financial sting and stress of doing business with this builder."
Without adequate regulation, there is no consumer confidence, she said.
"With so much at stake, it is important that regulations exist to protect consumers when things go wrong," Ms Harrison said.
She called on the Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, to order an "urgent investigation into Ben Geary's BJG Builders to bring this matter to an end for these constituents, and to protect others who may unwittingly seek to engage his services".
According to Ms Harrison, an Adamstown Heights family's home was left with unsafe retaining walls, gas leaks, incomplete plumbing, and more than 100 building defects. The house does not have an occupancy certificate.
"At this property there are $90,000 worth of works outstanding and the cost of repairing the numerous defects will be in excess of $80,000," she said.
She then went on to detail a host of problems with another project in her electorate.
"Another of these homes where work was undertaken by Mr Geary has water running through its garage, causing damage to the property," she said. "Downpipes were not connected to stormwater drains, leading to the home's footings being undermined each time it rained. Work on this home began in 2018 and it remains damaged, incomplete and defective.
"To make matters worse, the owners have since discovered that Mr Geary had not taken out home warranty insurance."
According to Ms Harrison, another Newcastle family engaged Mr Geary in March 2018 for a 20-week build and the job is still not finished.
"Just around the corner, another family of five has been left devastated after engaging Mr Geary in March 2019 to build a new home," she said.
"They have been left with a home that has 17 building defects and has not been issued with an occupation certificate.
"They now face the prospect of spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees."
Mr Geary has been issued with several rectification orders by NSW Fair Trading.
"These orders have come and gone without the multiple defects found in each home being corrected," she said. "This builder has left these five families with defect-riddled homes, and together they are out of pocket many thousands of dollars."
Further, Ms Harrison detailed the strain the problems had placed on the families.
"There is no price that can be put on the stress that these families have had to endure. I have witnessed the enormous pressure they have been under and the financial strain they have had to bear as a result of engaging Mr Geary to build or renovate their family home.
"Yet, unbelievably, he still holds a builder's licence and is still free to work for other customers and operate as a builder in the lower Hunter."
A NSW Fair Trading spokesman confirmed it was investigating a number a complaints about Mr Geary.
"As the investigation is ongoing, no further comment can be made," he said.
Ms Harrison said Labor wanted to ensure people "are protected against unscrupulous builders".
Mr Geary disputed numerous allegations, including the cost and scale of defects.
He said there were three families involved, not five, and he was running a "small sole trader family business", not a company.
He claimed to be "not legally responsible" for fixing defects and said he had not taken money for works not completed.
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