Home builders

Oracle home builders cost blowouts in Queensland ‘dream homes’

The dream of owning a brand new home has turned into a nightmare for Queenslanders who share horror stories of how it all went wrong.

Dozens of Queenslanders building their ‘dream homes’ have been embroiled in a standoff with the builder who they say demanded tens of thousands of dollars on top of the previously agreed price before agreeing to hand over the keys.

Oracle Platinum Homes is at the center of a media storm after landlords banded together to battle overcharges – some as high as $100,000 over the originally agreed price.

The builder says the costs are unavoidable – the result of unprecedented demand for materials since the Covid-19 shutdowns and flooding in the state.

But clients who have pushed their savings to the limit in hopes of moving into their beautiful new homes are telling horror stories of being stung by extra charges at the last minute.

In a private Facebook group for disgruntled Oracle customers, customers are outraged. Some said as recently as Thursday they received a call from the builder asking for more money to complete their project.

“Recommendations on a good solicitor in South Brisbane?” one person wrote Thursday.

“I just got a call for a price increase and my house isn’t finished yet.”

Others held contests to see who was charged the most extra fees.

“WINNING WINNING CHICKEN DINNER!!! “wrote a man. “I think we just won 1st prize in price increase…with a slightly modified floor plan. Increase of $62,708 over base. Thank God, we were just tender.

But another client quickly surpassed that.

“Sorry, we got a $76,000 raise…then a $46,000 raise in September. Our base was originally $391,000 (and increased to) $103,000.

This client said they were at the bidding stage and “politely said goodbye”.

A retired couple ‘building our dream retirement home’ shared their ‘nightmare’ story on Facebook in a post seen by news.com.au.

“What a nightmare, there have only been delays on the builder side,” they wrote.

“We signed our contract in early December 2020. The construction start date has been pushed back to June 2021.

“We have not been given a practical completion date and have just been hit with a $65,000 variation and seeking legal advice. Any advice, experience would be appreciated, thank you.”

News.com.au contacted Oracle and the automaker’s lawyers, but received no response.

A letter from Oracle chief Tom Orel to a customer blames “the ongoing ripple effects of the pandemic” for having “caused supply shortages for the entire construction industry.”

“As a result, we have no choice but to offer modified prices,” Mr. Orel wrote.

“These unpredictable price increases are due to impacts caused by, but not limited to, Covid-19, international and domestic supply chain disruptions, variations in suppliers and trade agreements, variations in changes materials due to product unavailability and changes in working methods required by state health guidelines.
“We understand this will cause disappointment, but Oracle has absorbed a large portion of these increases so far and this decision was only made because it is absolutely necessary.”

Courier Mail reports that Oracle’s work this fiscal year includes completing more than 100 homes worth $36.6 million. Last year, the company completed 318 homes worth more than $90 million.

The newspaper cited a letter to clients of the law firm Holding Redlich which represents Oracle. He warned them that starting with a new builder “is very likely to result in a substantial increase in the contract price over the price increase requested by Oracle.

“The impact on Oracle’s customers is terrible and they recognize it,” reads the letter.

“However, it would be even worse to be the customer of a manufacturer placed in administration because the company had ceased to be viable. Legal disputes over the contract will only make things worse for Oracle and its customers.

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