While the virus that was crippling construction firms in NSW seemed to be limited to Sydney and the high rise towers that became household names, in 2023 the affliction spread further afield and caught home-owners, subcontractors and investors.
Data published by corporate regulator ASIC found the construction sector was the industry where businesses were most likely to go under in the year ending June 30, 2023, with 686 construction businesses filing for insolvency in NSW.
Industry exports point to a range of factors that are squeezing the industry, already notorious for its tight profit margins. The high cost of materials and labour put further pressure on a cost-constrained industry, as well as rapid inflation in 2023 when builders are tied into fixed price contracts six months or more in advance.
The companies that went under ranged from large, national outfits to small local traders, but what was left behind was common, broken dreams and shattered confidence.
The web of companies that sustained Kiama builder Samy Saad soon unravelled after Daascon went into administration in July. Having just completed the Elevate 77 apartment building in Shellharbour, Mr Saad filed for voluntary administration owing millions to subcontractors, many of whom said their bills were much higher than what was estimated.
Documents filed with ASIC showed a network of loans between Mr Saad's companies and family trusts, many of which were marked as worthless. Questions were raised as to how the company was able to remain afloat until the all important funds flowed through from purchasers, allowing Mr Saad walk away with millions while contractors are left with debts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It's the largest joint local government project in the country, but cracks were certainly visible in the facades of newly built homes in Shell Cove this year.
A design defect, according to the builders Frasers Property Australia, affected numerous terraces throughout the precinct and led to water gushing through skylights and running down walls. For many homeowners, who had bought into the area as a way to live closer to the sea, this wasn't the water feature they had hoped for.
After their builder went under in December 2022, the Sharples family in Kembla Grange were thrown into the world of iCare, insolvency specialists and insurance claims, when all they wanted was to be in their new home by Christmas.
Twelve months later, the family is finally able to move into their completed home, but only because of the help of a builder family friend, with a vow to never build again.
The unenviable title for the longest wait to move into a completed apartment would have to go to the unfortunate residents of the Crownview apartments on upper Crown Street. After serious defects were found in the building earlier in the year, in December residents were told they would have to wait again as remediation works were taking longer than expected.
By early 2024, when works are scheduled to finish, some owners will have been waiting up to seven years to move in after buying units off the plan.
Even high profile national builders were not saved from the malaise that tore through the construction sector. Canberra-based firm PBS Building went into voluntary administration in march, leaving behind an affordable housing project in Dapto and a high rise apartment tower on Keira Street in Wollongong.
In both cases, other builders have been called in to finish the project, but the delays have added to the housing supply shortage as completions fail to keep up with targets.