Edifice contract concern ignored

TESS MCCLURE
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2014

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Contractors and clients of troubled rebuild company Edifice are asking how the company ever gained Fletcher and Southern Response accreditation.

Owned by discharged bankrupt Rob Strickland, Edifice looks to be in financial trouble with debt building and contractors unpaid.

The Press spoke last week to four contractors who said they were owed money by Edifice.

Now clients and workers are questioning how the company came to be accredited, and whether Fletcher or Southern Response should do more to ensure their contractors were financially sound.

Records show neither Strickland nor Edifice Building is registered as a licensed building practitioner or master builder.

Insurance advocate Dean Lester said he raised concerns about Edifice's workmanship seven months ago, after it completed a house repair for one of his clients.

"The inadequacy of the repairs was immediately reported to Southern Response," Lester said, but his concerns had "fallen on deaf ears".

"Arrow and Southern Response say they have a process to ensure they are only contracting excellent builders of the highest quality and standard. It's very clear . . . given the background of the owner of Edifice that that is not the case."

Sub-contractor Alan Jackson said he was still waiting to be paid by Strickland, after two jobs which he invoiced in April and June.

"Fletcher should be taking more care with which contractors they hire," he said.

"They need to take more responsibility here."

Jackson, who is owed $2700, said if the company was in financial trouble, producing shoddy work or not paying workers, Fletcher should step in to make sure contractors were paid.

Fletcher spokesman Barry Akers said Fletcher took responsibility for ensuring its subcontractors were robust businesses and capable of fulfilling their business obligations.

"We do. That's part of the accreditation process. But we can't run the business."

In the case of Edifice, he said Fletcher had fulfilled that responsibility.

"We have a responsibility to pay the money that's due to the contractors, and we certainly do that," he said.

"The business relationships they have are a matter for them and the other parties, I couldn't really comment on that."

Akers said, while Edifice remained accredited, it would not be completing any work for Fletcher after the end of August.

"The clear agreement between Fletcher and Edifice [is] that no more work will be allocated . . . beyond the jobs that are currently underway."

Southern Response and Arrow did answer questions on how previous bankruptcies and liquidations impacted on their accreditation process.

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Tom Clisby, Project Director for Arrow International, Southern Response's project manager for construction works said Edifice "has not received any new work from Arrow for a considerable period of time".

"We will continue to work closely with the small number of customers whose repair projects with Edifice are yet to reach practical completion to ensure the work is completed to the expected professional standards," he said.

Strickland said he was "working through all options focusing on what is best for our contractors and staff". "As I have informed our contractors and suppliers we are wrapping up all of the outstanding projects by the end of this month with the intention of getting all jobs signed off, invoicing out and paid. We want this to be a clean hand over for our clients and the home owners," he said.

- The Press

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