If you are building a new home either as a principal place of residence or as an investment, one of the ‘knife edge’ moments, apart from deciding on the location, design or builder, is when it comes time to do the handover. It needs an expert eye. Don’t rely on a contractor supplied by the builder. That just set up a conflict of interest. In today’s show we talk with Paul Corn, the man behind Handovers.com
Kevin: Many property investors, of course, decide that they want to get a new property built because there are obvious advantages of that – of depreciation and so on that we have covered in the show before – but one of the things you’ll find if you do have to build a new home or you want to buy into a new unit complex is the difficulty you’ll have at the point of handover.
You have to assume, therefore, that everything has been done properly, and quite often, builders, you’ll find, will have their own inspection done prior to settlement. But is that good enough? Maybe you should get an independent party to have a look at it for you.
There is a company I’m going to suggest to you now – Handovers.com. That is what they do. They come in. They will represent you as the buyer, have a look at the property, and then give you an impartial report about the things that need to be done to bring it up to standard if that is necessary.
Paul Corn is the man behind Handovers.com, and he joins me. Good day, Paul.
Paul: Hi, Kevin. How are you?
Kevin: Good, mate. A great service that you offer. What do you see as, obviously, the benefits of this, but also where do a lot of these areas of concern come up in your experience?
Paul: Kevin, it seems that a lot of builders e-mail or ring the client and say that it’s a practical completion and they have to make their final payment. What we do is go out and have a look, and if it is at practical completion, we will tell the client it is but if it’s not, we then recommend that they don’t make their final payment because it’s not a practical completion.
Kevin: What are some of the things that you look for, some of the problem areas that may emerge in this that I, as a novice, wouldn’t know?
Paul: We look at everything that you, as the novice, look at, but we know what is either right or wrong. We look at paint, tiling, door margins, all that. Brickwork, you name it, we look at it. We’re just making sure that the builder’s interpretation of quality is what is acceptable. If not, we do a list, and for paint and plaster, we use a safe removal tape on the walls and then we ask the builder to rectify those items.
Kevin: How much control or how much power do you have over the builder to do that?
Paul: We have the same amount of power as the owner, but in saying that, we know what’s right or wrong. If it had to go to one of the governing bodies, we believe that our report, everything that we write down, would be asked to be rectified by the governing body.
Kevin: I suppose from time to time, too, Paul, there might be things that I, as a consumer, would think need to be done but practically, they don’t have to be, and you’re that third person who can say, “No, that’s not the role of the builder.” Is that a fair comment?
Paul: That’s a fair comment. We see numerous times where an owner has gotten themselves worked up into a bit of a lather because they believe that this certain item isn’t right, but if it is right, we will tell the owner and we’ll explain why it’s not a defect.
We have to work within the guidelines. There is a document called Guide to Standards and Tolerances. It’s a condensed version of Standards Australia. We use that document. It might be the margins on a door or the architraves around a window, but everything has a standard and tolerances. That’s what we have to work to.
Kevin: You mentioned this earlier in our chat, too, that you come in prior to that final payment being made. That is fairly critical, isn’t it? If that final payment is made over and then you come in and do your report, you might even find it almost impossible to get the builder to come back and rectify some of those problems.
Paul: We have had where the builders have said, “No, you haven’t written it down, and we’re not going to fix it.” We have gone out and had a look at it, produced a report, had a discussion with the builder, and all of my employees, we all speak “builder speak,” so to speak, and we can negotiate with the builder.
We have never had to go to any of the tribunals or whatever, because we can talk to the builder, and most of the time, we’ll get it through that yes, it has to be fixed – because a defect is always a defect. It never changes.
Kevin: Paul, before we need to go, I understand you have flying cameras up and around Australia, too, to help investors have a look at where their property sits. Tell me about that service.
Paul: We have these flying cameras. It’s just an add-on service where a lot of owners don’t see their investment property. What we do is we will use the camera, hover above the house, give them a 360-degree aerial shot of where the house is, and they can have a look at where it is in the town that they’re built in, what it looks like. It’s just an add-on service that we have for our clients, and it seems to be taking off rather well.
Kevin: I think that the service you offer just in helping investors in that handover process is very powerful. Paul, thank you so much for your time. The website is Handovers.com.
My guest has been Paul Corn. Paul, thank you for your time.
Paul: Thanks, Kevin.