Queensland sends builders bust by abandoning transition period for killer stone

Jarrod
By Jarrod
4 Min Read

Queensland’s decision to forgo a transition period for phasing out engineered stone is set to cost builders, fabricators, installers and homeowners thousands of dollars. 

Despite a transition being agreed on by ministers at a recent State WHS meeting, the Sunshine State confirmed this week that they wouldn’t allow builders to finish legacy contracts when the ban comes into effect on July 1. 

Minister Grace Grace cited the need to “protect workers and save lives” and said the decision reflects Queensland’s commitment to combatting the “insidious” dangers posed by the killer silica stone.

But Housing Industry Association (HIA) Queensland Executive Director Michael Roberts says the decision will instead leave builders and tradespeople scrambling to find solutions for homeowners facing delays, contract changes and extra costs.

“It’s not uncommon for home building contracts to be signed at least 12 months prior to construction commencement, and then there’s time taken to complete the build,” he said.

“It’s likely that confusion and supply of replacement bench top product will see new homes sitting waiting for bench top installation so that homeowners can move in.

“All involved will take a hit.”

Now with the change less than two months away, many builders will be forced to change existing contracts to offer more expensive alternatives like porcelain, adding additional customer costs and project delays. 

Even without the ban putting pressure on builds, current labour shortages and rising construction costs have already seen home construction times blow out across Queensland, increasing anywhere from 6 months to 26 months on average. 

Cross-border confusion

Other states and territories have already agreed to a six-month transition for pre-existing contracts to be fulfilled, including Queensland’s southern neighbour, NSW. 

Mr Roberts said the cross-border confusion and discrepancies would only make the transition harder for those businesses already copping the brunt of the cost. 

“The Minister has seriously underestimated the impost this decision will put on the community and industry, and we will see this play out in the second half of the year,” he said.

“Thousands of building and sales contracts will need to be varied, and the consequence will be more cost for consumers, and significant administration time and burden for small business.

“HIA supports strong measures to manage the risks of respirable crystalline silica, but we believe that a safe and fair transition could have been achieved.”

With many builders who planned on phasing the stone out until December 31—based on government advice —left in the lurch, the industry is calling out Minster Grace for changing her tune so close to the cut-off date. 

“Queensland was the last State to make it clear on the rules moving forward, but if the Minister always supported a complete ban as claimed, why did she wait until a long weekend to make the announcement when the announcement could have been made months ago?” Mr Roberts said.

Offering no reason as to why the announcement lags weeks if not months behind other state governments, Minster Grace instead took the chance to throw a dig at the opposing side of the parliament bench for their failure to implement a ban back in 2018.

“Unlike the LNP, we back our workers and invest in the health and safety infrastructure in this state – this means we were ready to act and provide immediate support when this issue first came up in 2018,” she said in a statement shared with Build-it.

“After years of inaction at a federal level from the LNP, the Albanese Government agreed to a national ban last year – showing that Queensland workers will always be better off under Labor Governments.”

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Jarrod
By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.