A man was left devastated after learning his ‘shell’ of a home would remain unfinished only because he was idly scrolling through Facebook.
Queensland resident Dale Liston said that up until last week Oracle Building Corporation Pty Ltd, which collapsed on Thursday, had been telling him ‘everything was fine’.
The reassurance was offered despite the company asking him for more money to finish his house earlier this year and missing deadlines, which led to a confrontation with the company’s managing director in his office.
Mr Liston was killing time in hospital, where he is recovering from an operation after he was diagnosed with Chron’s Disease on Tuesday, when he learnt of Oracle’s demise.
‘I woke up yesterday morning and mate, I was scrolling through my Facebook – nothing better to do at the moment unfortunately – and found out on Facebook there.’ Mr Liston told the Today Show.
Paul Liston, here pictured with wife Pieta, only learnt that the firm building his house, Oracle Homes, had collapsed when he was idly scrolling though Facebook while in hospital
Mr Liston has described his unfinished house, located in a southern suburb of Brisbane, as a ‘shell’
‘There were no calls, there were no messages from Oracle, no emails, it was honestly just something I found on Facebook.’
Mr Liston, 33, told Daily Mail Australia the news was devastating particularly as he only recently discovered he had Crohn’s disease.
The disease causes irritation of the bowel and to manage it, Mr Liston will need to take medication for the rest of his life plus change his diet.
‘When I found out, I am not going to lie, I had a little… tear because of being here (in hospital) and finding all this out about my health and then this just to top off the cake,’ he said.
Interior shots taken of Mr Liston’s house in August reveal there was still a lot of work to be completed
Despite having spent $350,000 so far for the land and to build his house Mr Liston is left with something still needing a lot of work
‘It hasn’t put me in a good position. First I felt sadness and then an immense amount of anger towards that business (Oracle Homes).
‘Now it’s just unknown what I will do next. I have given everything I can, I don’t have anything left in the tank.’
Mr Liston, who works as a warehouse manager, said his house at Logan Reserve on the Brisbane’s southern edges, was a ‘shell’ at this point, despite having spent $350,000 so far.
Mr Liston has been told he has to secure his empty property because he would be liable if anyone gets hurt venturing onto or into it
‘It’s got the bricks around it, I have a roof,’ he said.
Mr Liston said there was work to be completed both inside and outside the house by the builder, which has been left in limbo
‘They have delivered the kitchen cabinetry and they had started painting it.
‘They have still got to do flooring, the landscaping …there is still a lot to go.’
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), which is the state’s industry watchdog, informed Mr Liston he is liable if anyone is hurt on the property.
‘I’ve got to go out and change the locks so no one can get into it,’ he said.
‘I have no keys, they have gone into liquidation, I can’t even get into my own home.’
Mr Liston said he contacted Oracle Homes, which collapsed leaving around 300 homes unfinished and owing at least $14million to creditors, last week.
Mr Liston, with wife Pieta, said he had intended the house to be his first and last home for his family, which includes three children
He was unnerved by court cases being pursued by Oracle customers after the builder asked for extra money to finish their homes.
‘They assured me everything’s fine – “we’ve got money coming”,’ he said.
‘And they had no money at that stage due to the fact they had no funds, they had to delay my build.’
Mr Liston said his house, which he signed a contract for in June 2021, was originally meant to be finished in May.
He was then told it would be finished by September but when Mr Liston went to inspect the property in August he realised ‘there was no way this would happen’.
Mr Liston said he had a confrontation with Oracle managing director Tom Orel in July where Mr Orel tried to ‘kick him out of the office’
‘I had been told works had been done on my house,’ he said.
‘I had the day off on that public holiday (Ekka Day), so I actually went and drove to my house.
‘I found out that was a lie – they hadn’t actually done anything.
‘My house was due to be done by 5 September – and there was a lot to be done, there was no way it would [be done].
‘And they kept assuring me it would. And then all of a sudden it got to the point where they admitted, “no, it’s not”.’
Earlier this year Mr Liston was asked to pay an additional $40,000 to finish his house despite having a fixed price contract and having paid a $20,000 deposit.
He said this led to a confrontation with Oracle’s managing director Paul Orel.
The collapse of Oracle left around 300 homes unfinished with the failed company owing at least $14 million
After seeing the state of his unfinished house he went to Oracle’s office.
‘I went to his (Mr Orel’s) office on the public holiday demanding to speak with him,’ Mr Liston said.
‘He tried to kick me out.’
They had an argument where Mr Orel accused Mr Liston of going to the media, which Mr Liston denied.
Mr Orel said he was vindicated when Mr Orel couldn’t show proof of his claim.
Oracle was put in the hands of liquidators the Robson Cotter Insolvency Group on Thursday.
Mr Orel has been contacted by the Daily Mail Australia for comment.
A statement from the liquidators said Mr Orel was cooperating fully with them.
‘Mr Orel has highlighted the well known difficult circumstances prevailing in the construction industry, including the recent and rapid rise in construction costs,’ the statement said.
‘These factors resulted in cost overruns and delays in project completions, which severely impacted the company’s cash flows and its capacity to continue to operate despite the owners and staff’s best endeavours.’
Mr Liston accused Mr Orel of operating as if nothing was wrong up until very recently.
‘He was still trying to sell houses last week and he was still asking people for price increases last week,’ Mr Liston said.
‘He would have known this was coming.’
Mr Liston said the house he was building was meant to be his family’s ‘first and last home’.
He and wife Pieta have three children – a four-year-old girl and two boys who are 10 and 12 – and are currently living in a rental property.
Mr Liston said at this stage he wanted the saga over and done with.
‘If they were to offer me some sort of payout, in all honesty I would walk away,’ he said.
‘Even if I broke even on everything I have paid for and never think about this again, it’s marred the whole experience for me.
‘I want my home. I just don’t think that is ever going to come.’
Queensland Master Builders CEO Paul Bidwell said Mr Liston should be able to get his house finished because of the state’s home warranty insurance scheme.
He told the Today Show the scheme would pay up to $200,000 on top of what Mr Liston had put in to complete the house.
Mr Bidwell admitted it could take a long time for Oracle customers to see their homes done because of the shortage of builders and materials.
He argued that the war in Ukraine, where a lot of timber was sourced from, was driving price increases that were sending ‘builders to the wall’.
‘No-one could have foreseen the escalation that was coming down the line,’ he said. Who would have thought the Ukraine war would have an impact on the cost of building – it has.’
The carnage in the building and construction industry has seen both developers and builders fall.
It was reported in the Herald Sun today that developer Caydon, which went into administration in July, owed a staggering $200million with around 130 apartments unsold.
A number of projects have been scrapped or put on hold around Australia.
Perth developer Sirona Urban has abandoned a $165million luxury tower, while Melbourne developer Central Equity has stopped a $500million apartment tower on the Gold Coast.
Melbourne-based construction giant Metricon – one of the nation’s largest companies – last month sparked rumours it was in trouble after holding crisis talks with clients and meeting with the Victorian Treasurer.
The owners injected $30million into the embattled company, although bosses have denied it is at risk of entering liquidation.
Queensland Master Builders CEO Paul Bidwell said those with unfinished Oracle homes should be able to access the state’s warranty scheme to help them complete works
A growing list of builders and developers around the country, however, have gone bust.
On August 9, Brisbane-based Besse Construction collapsed owing $1.7million and leaving 30 people out of work.
Solido Builders Pty Ltd went into liquidation in May and Pivotal Homes Pty Ltd in June.
Victorian firms Wulfrun Constructions Pty Ltd went into liquidation in July.
Another Victorian builder Waterford Homes went bust a week earlier, owing at least $600,000 to 60 creditors.
The failed companies joined a string of builders who have faltered this year.
Construction giant Pro-build went under in March owing more than $14million to 784 workers, while Gold Coast-based Condev appointed liquidators weeks later leaving creditors out of pocket to the amount of $31million.
Michaela Lihou from the Masters Builders Association of Victoria, explained the crisis impacting construction in Australia.
‘We have got supply shortages, skills shortages and at the moment, it’s a perfect storm,’ she said.
Matthew Mackey, executive director of engineering company Arcadis, said smaller businesses are more likely to go broke because they can’t absorb the cost increases like their larger counterparts.
‘Smaller businesses don’t have the cash flow, they don’t have the same safety net,’ he explained.
‘They’re going to feel the pain a lot sooner and a lot more harshly.’