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  • Writer's pictureRydePassiveHouse

A Review of The Builders

Updated: May 23


This is a genuine review of Marvel Homes Pty Ltd. I contracted with Mo Amin to build my passive house in Ryde NSW in October 2020, and landscaping in February 2022. My site supervisor was Ibrahim Amin. The company started in 2019. The director Mo worked as an engineer and has a background in selling olives.

 

The build took just under 2 years from start to practical completion, and was slowed by COVID and wet weather. The pace of landscaping work also slowed the progress towards practical completion of the house. It took far too long, even allowing for wet weather. In my opinion, the job was under-resourced and not efficiently managed.

 

This situation made the issue of practical completion unnecessarily difficult. It involved some extraordinary requests from Marvel Homes to change the building contract, whilst it was on foot. There was pressure on us to move incomplete items from the building contract to the landscaping contract; to bring forward practical completion and thereby somehow "benefitting the house progress." This would have meant that a final payment would have been due without delivery of the carpet, air-conditioning unit, BASIX/OSD tanks and the driveway. I declined.

 

Difficulties continued when they scheduled a practical completion walk-through for the 12th of September. We attended, and informed them that we did not think they had reached practical completion. We provided a written notice detailing what we thought was necessary to complete the stage. I had major doubts as to whether a house with no floor coverings on the 1st floor, BASIX/OSD tanks not yet connected to the stormwater system, and no air conditioning unit would meet the HIA definition. They carried out the work and refused to provide a further notice of practical completion. This is a condition of the HIA contract. 


Interestingly, the insurance company that provides the Home Building Compensation Fund (icare NSW) was informed by Marvel Homes that practical completion was reached on October 31st.


From the HIA website:

‘Practical completion’ means when the building works are complete except for minor omissions and defects that do not prevent the building works from being reasonably capable of being used for their usual purpose.


Marvel Homes then sent messages saying that; even if we made the final payment on the house, they would not issue the engineering and trades certificates to the certifier, to start the process of issuing an occupation certificate, until the landscaping was finished and related invoices were paid. They were 2 different contracts and this was an unacceptable breach of the building contract. I was able to get the certificates with the help of a specialist construction lawyer, the threat of urgent action in the NCAT and the help of Fair Trading NSW. 

 

Marvel Homes requested changes to the landscaping contract, whilst it was also still on foot. They informed me that they had a plan in place for tiling, but that the screed was too wet for tiling work to commence. It would need a week to dry out, and they observed, more wet weather was on its way. They asked me to remove the tiling from the scope. I declined.

 

Coincidentally, the letter from the construction lawyer regarding the certificates was sent on the same Friday. Marvel Homes was miraculously able to arrange for the tiling to start 2 days later on Sunday. It was unclear whether the screed was still damp in parts. In the presence of the director Mo, I asked the lead tiler when he had become aware of the job. He told me that they didn’t usually work on Sundays and that he had become aware of it on the Friday night.

 

Tiles were missing when they sent me an invoice on the Monday. I resisted paying, because the progress payment schedule stated that it was due on “completion” of the stage. The missing screed and tiles were installed almost 2 months later. They demanded payment through their solicitor shortly after, which I paid. I’m still waiting for them silicone or otherwise seal the tiles to the walls a year and a half later. Ironically, the screed frequently gets wet when it rains now.

 

I would like to be able to rationalise by saying that the building journey was long and difficult, but the standard of the finish is good. I am still dealing with what I believe are defects, poor workmanship, arguments about a substantial credit and incomplete work. Unfortunately we are now verbally debating what is a defect according to the NSW Govt. Standards and Tolerances Guide and what are minor issues, according to Marvel Homes. I thought the issue of how to manage minor issues was dealt with in an email from the Site Supervisor Ibrahim Amin on September 17th 2022, when he said,


"Hi Phill

I explained on multiple occasions the process that any minor issues will be fixed prior to handover and since this was only brought to our attention after the practical completion walk through we will add it to the list. It is such a minor issue all you needed to do is asking us to add it to list so we can address it, see attached photo."


This exchange relates to an issue with the fixing of a gas strut bracket to a concrete slab, but refers to a process to resolve "minor issues" that gave me some hope that I would not end up in the situation that I am now in.


So, taking into account the challenges of the period, the decision to build with Marvel Homes is one I now thoroughly regret.


Pictures of minor issues, or defects (whatever you would like to call them), poor workmanship and incomplete work are provided here. To be clear, all the issues pictured have been raised, either verbally during meetings onsite or in writing and I am running out of statutory warranty time and options for getting them fixed.




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