Builder Threat to Go to Council Re: Unauthorised Building if Do Not Choose Him as Builder

I requested a quote for a Deck. Who visited and advise me that he is builder and can do everything. I said ok, give me a quote.
We got a quote to do a landscaping from a builder A.
Builder A , gave us a quote around $100k. (landscaping, deck, additional must do from him pergola, carport - as he is builder)
Builder B, already provided a quote about $30k (which do not include deck which may cost $10-15k)

Builder A required us to go to him or else he will call council and complaint re: deck and car port which he thought - unauthorised build by previous owner.

Current carport/deck is about 20+ year old (owned by me last 5 years) - has roof and rain water/gutter provided.

Any help - what should I do? How to legalised my current construction.

thx

Comments

          • +2

            @ca4cpa: Only mistake there is you not ignoring him earlier in the conversation.
            And obviously his time is worth way less than he is making it seem like, otherwise he would’ve stopped earlier too.

          • +3

            @ca4cpa: Although you were just trying to get an idea of the price, you're the person who said it was 100k. You didn't read his quote or price-breakdown and frankly you're acting pretty rude, even if it is in response to his bluntness.
            He never said "pick me or I go to the council", he honestly sounds like he wants nothing to do with you and because you're a hassle is screwing you over too.

          • +2

            @ca4cpa: To be honest your replies are quite rude and triggering.

            I'm not sure if this is your first interaction with builders for quotes but you will always get quite varied prices. Just be professional about it , simply say thanks for your time but I have chosen another builder, and end of conversation.

        • Other example that you has 2003 Toyota Camry - you drive to car dealer to buy a new car.

          Car dealer see the old tyres or your car, he found a few defects in your Toyota Camry.

          Car dealer offer you a car which is 3x more expensive than what you want to spend.

          Now he says to you buy my car OR I go to Vicroads and report your car (Toyota) is NOT roadworthy.

          Just an example…

        • +1

          Plot twist, Switchblade88 is Builder A

          • @REDRUM: GASP

            How dare you!! You can exempt a call from your council about this

  • +1

    I wouldn’t stress mate. Tell him to go ahead and contact council. It’s unlikely they will actually do anything. The number of structures out there without permits is enormous. If they followed every one up they wouldn’t have time to do anything else. If it’s a super recent build it’s more likely they will chase it up. But if it was erected years ago and different owners now etc, highly unlikely.

  • +12

    I think at this stage you have a heap of answers from users, it was hopefully enough to give you the courage to deal with this builder ACA-worthy conman builder.

    If he has bullied, extorted and manipulated you BEFORE you have signed a contract, then rest-assured you are going to be hosed for more money and will be stressed during any work.

    I think you need to get onto the tax office, building regulator and the police… or at least cut & paste the comment I have pre-written for you below, and send it to the builder.

    'Hey, thanks for the written evidence of extortion, conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth (tax avoidance), and other offences you have committed… Just letting you know I will not be a willing participant in compounding an offence, nor will I be a victim of your extortion. Do not make contact with me ever again through any means, direct or indirect. If there is a complaint to council, from you or not, it will only hasten my speed in exposing you for your dirty, illegal tactics. TL;DR DO NOT EVER CONTACT ME OR CROSS MY PATH AGAIN'

    • +3

      Thanks will do send it tomorrow.

  • Just ignore and move on, why are you arguing with a builder who you are never going to use. Tell him you will not be using him as you have a cheaper quote and let that be the end of it.

    • +1

      why just ignore. Fire at him with all barrels with evidence of extortion.

  • +4

    I don’t get these responses.
    You are being extorted. It is a serious crime and although you feel it is not a big deal, this person has likely been doing this before. Think of someone’s Grandmother this POS has probably done this to.
    Contact the Police.

    BTW
    The context of a building quote etc is not relevant. This is not anything that regulatory authorities are legislated to deal with - but the State is.
    Given the cost difference in the quotes the amount is quite serious too.

  • If you bought the house with existing structures such as car port and deck, then why would anyone complain that it’s illegal! When you purchased the house you would have gone through a solicitor / conveyancer who would the communicate with the council. If they didn’t pick it up then you should be well in your right replace it without council approval! I cannot grasp how you would find such structures on your land illegal when that’s how you bought it!

    I have a similar situation I bought a house with a garage that was extended with cement all the way to the back fence. On the land drawings it would assume there is an easement there and no structure should be there. No one has complained including the council.

    • +2

      You are still responsible for unapproved structures that existed before the purchase. However depending on your state there may be a stature of limitation. So if it's been 15 years, they probably won't be interested (unless considered un-safe). If it's 2 years, you can get an order to get it approved or may have to demolish it (at your cost).

      As for conveyancer, unless they know of recent works (ie you tell them), they won't know if it differs from concil records. And unless you thought to put in special conditions into the contract before you signed it, it's not grounds for cancelling.

      Looking at it another way, you purchase a house, and notice that the neighbour has an unapproved pool with inadequete fencing, an unapproved carport that redirects all the water over your side of the fence affecting your land. You would want them inspected and made sure they are safe, even if it had been there before your neighbour had purchased.

      • -1

        Good insight! I’ll have a look at statute limitations. That being said I Paid 100+ dollars to a council to find past council approved structures on my land and they came up with nothing. Since the house has been there for 40+ years I’m guessing that illegal structure was there for that
        Long too now!

        • I Paid 100+ dollars to a council to find past council approved structures on my land and they came up with nothing.

          A search will only show what has been approved. It doesn't mean the shed wasn't extended 5 years ago (not that I can know that either).

          I think if you have an easement it would be different. If it exists I think you would still be on the line to remove the concrete and structure if that was required.

  • +1

    you can get retrospective DA approval if that's what you are worried about
    but as above, that's ridiculous if not downright criminal

  • +1

    I sort of feel like either:

    • Bikies should get involved
      or
    • Bikies are already involved
  • +1

    Current carport/deck is about 20+ year old

    The legal requirement for residential construction has been amended numerous times since the early 2000's, including Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards, although this is more related to your local council requirement with regards to what a carport must provide in terms of function and aesthetics. The aesthetics is often what Council would give you trouble for, depending on how they believe the colour/construction material should be for where you live. Furthermore, what seems to be illegal may not be at the time of construction. For as long as you got an approval from Council back when it was constructed, the Council won't give you shits for this.

    You can check with Council to see what kind of work has been approved for completion (e.g. carport) and if re-issue of Occupational Certificate was ever made. A carport generally doesn't need OC but an extension of house will definitely need one. EDIT: at the time when you made your purchase of this house, your lawyer would have checked the OC and if any illegal extension/modification was made, and presented the findings with you before you signed the contract.

    My qualification, past experience in private construction as structural engineer and currently working for council. Been on the both side of the fence.

    • If you maintain an old extension, does that make it subject to current building regulations?

      Eg, we have an extension that was built in the 80s or earlier, wanting to replace the windows and some rotting window frames, replace sliding glass door with bifolds, redo the cladding. Does this make the room subject to more stringent regulations than it currently has?

      • +1

        It would depend on the extent and might vary from state to state.

        If its "maintenance" and you're replacing like for like, then generally no it wouldn't require you to meet current regulations.
        But it sounds like its a bit more then that, though not touching the structure. Not sure if the works you described would even trigger a DA / Permit which would require this check…

        Anyways, for perspective, if I were to do these works in Victoria and it triggered a building permit. Then yes the renovated area of the house would need to be brought up to regs in terms of thermal performance. i.e. X star energy rating, good insulation for all the walls, possibly double glaze all the windows etc. If the area being renovated accounts for more then 50% of the house, then the WHOLE house needs to brought up to meet regs. Yerp…

        Best to check with a local building surveyor / your local council.

  • +2

    If you give in, I imagine his next blackmail attempt will be to sleep with your wife.
    I can’t believe you even considered that option. Literally, any other option would be better and than includes actual bikies.

  • +3

    Report him to the police. We are a law-abiding, God-fearing country.

    • -1

      Police only care about catching people speeding and driving while using mobile etc.

        • +2

          You're a charmer! No, of course not, just a polite way of calling out their racism. Are you always so rude?

            • +3

              @havok44: I'm curious about these "facts" you're eluding to?

  • Just tell him you've changed your mind or the Ministry of Finance (wife or significant other) decided against the renovation and considering a holiday instead. Since there's a travel bubble now between Aus/NZ, a getaway is better than renovation hell at home.

    Prior to the Building Codes changes in the 90s & 00s, it's literally anything goes, to a certain degree. As long as no one knows about it. We bought a house with an structure "added" to the house which is not showing on the council plan. Which it was done prior to us buying the house and via visual clues, believed to be build back in the 80s.

    Now we could get it reflected on the council plan BUT it means it will be tested/checked against the newer building codes, which will most likely failed and that will likely means - council order to take down illegal build structure. So for now, we are just staying put.

    You'll better check with your Council Planning hotline, what special limits they have in place, each council varies in their DA requirements. In NSW, anything under 20sqm area are exempt from Development Application (DA) to the council, although some council can be ignorant to this. This was one of the changes brought in via the NSW Building Code changes…. so we took down our deck (not on the council plan) and build a bigger deck & under the 20sqm limit without needing council DA.

    As for Builder A, ignore him. But i would strongly suggest you get in touch with your council and find out what rules they have. You could always throw a "what if" question to them and various scenario. Not sure how accommodating your council is, our one was pretty helpful, we were asking questions and what if situations and they provided the likely outcome.

    Good luck !

  • +2

    I had a similar thing where an electrician who was an 'old friend' of of my father in law was (slowly) doing some electrical replacements and adding some power points in the lounge. Half way through, he tells my wife that due to the extra points our main board is no longer compliant and he will need to replace it at an additional 1k+. If we don't do it he'll report us to energy company/regulators/whoever. She rings me and tells me this. I come home and tell him to feel free to pack up his sh!t and gtfo. I told him to bill what he's done (old friend remember) and if the figures are bullshit I'll report him to fair trading. Surprisingly the bill that came back was very fair!

    • +3

      Electrical contractors have a legal obligation to disconnect anything that could be unsafe. Not sure if that extends to reporting potentially overloaded switchboards.

    • +1

      sounds like a retired electrician….. should have did the sums with the extra powerpoints and then check boards if the load is sufficient to run the circuit. To do half a job then add more on top, yeah, no integrity there.

  • I would get a quote from Builder C before deciding…

  • Send him this.

    What is the maximum penalty for extortion or blackmail?

    Extortion and blackmail are very serious crimes. In NSW, extortion and blackmail carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and this can increase to 14 years if the offence is aggravated.

    The crime has already been committed just by making the threat - maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment :O

    • maximum is almost like saying "up to" on deals here

  • Who is this scum? Expose him!

    If he’s threatening you now imagine if you choose him and pay100k? Bloody scum

  • +3

    I think you and Builder A should just kiss

  • +3

    Just inform ATO of Builder A doing cash jobs, just to screw them over a little

  • Just for lols, isn’t the builder doing the right thing by quoting full remediation to comply with regs and advising customer that as a patriot he is obligated to report illegalities to the appropriate authorities?

  • +4

    Firstly, as many others have mentioned, don't be scared by what Builder A has claimed.

    Planning / Building regulations have changed over the past 20 years, and the build may have been a perfectly legal back when it was originally built.
    Attempted to gleam as much information from previous comments but I assume Builder A were alleging the deck / carport were not compliant structurally and not from a planning approval perspective. Council will likely not care at all for any planning approvals for a structure built 20+ years ago. As for structurally if it is non-compliant as A claims, given the length of time and the nature of the works as primarily external, they might not even bat an eye.

    To put things into perspective, I know of someone who purchased a property a couple of years ago with illegal works that were done just prior to the purchase, and subsequently was not picked up by anyone. This involved heavy works to the house itself and not just external items. That council (not Knox) did issue building notices, but it was resolved through retroactively getting a building permit for the works to ensure everything was safe.

    Your case appears trivial by comparison but if for any reason the council did come, inspect and did require you to go through the process, it could be potentially handled under the same building permit you would need for the rest of the works (if it triggers a permit).

    As a side (and possibly funny) note decades ago, the council's buildings got flooded so they don't have records for builds beyond a certain year. Whether the deck / carport is old enough to be have been lost….well…

    Also, if you haven't already, you can check if Builder A is properly registered via the VBA website:
    VBA Find a Practitioner
    Assume you have their details as they've provided you a written quote? Doesn't hurt to check if the Builders you're working with are registered as they claim, in particular for works which would trigger a contract ($10k min. project cost).

    Last note, if anyone doubts the claim that the works are as old as they are, Google Earth is a good place to check. They have satellite imagery going back to 1985.
    Melbourne in Google Earth

    From an Architect, who happens to be from around the OP's location.

  • Bikies…

    • Yum !!!

      Chocolate Bikies…

      • chocolate wheaten or chocolate teddy bears?

        • +1

          Tim Tams!!!

  • 100k for that? Crazy~!
    Yeah, just ignore that guy.

  • +1

    Do you have to reply to him at all? I wouldn't bother. Just go with the builder you want and ignore him.

  • Did you pay the circa $250 one-off payment for title insurance when you bought the property?

    If so, it will be the best $250 you ever spent.

  • I'd love to hear the story from the builders side of things.

  • +2

    Some councils allow you to apply for a post build permit for this exact situation - you've only just found out the structures are illegal. Look up your local council website for building structures and legislation and there should be an application. Some even have a number you can call.

  • Looking at that SMS history that you posted screenshots of - Acting like a child when you don't accept his quote and then attempting to extort you…He's really not doing himself any favours in terms of publicity for either of his businesses. Not to mention the pay cash, pay less comment he made in the SMS history you posted (hello ATO).

    BM Builderz - only one ABN hit. Location checks out. Is this the guy?

    https://abr.business.gov.au/ABN/View?abn=54455019981

    EDIT - Thrown by a poster's comment above that the surname is Scottish/Northern UK. This one is a russian surname and the guy is way too young to be in the business for 25 years.

  • Most councils let you apply for retrospective permit, as long as the carport does not violate local planning and building code. I've done it before.

  • The guys is a dirtbag, he'll screw you for every dollar for unforeseen costs if you let him walk all over you from the start. Name and shame as well as report.

  • +2

    I never understand why tradies get so upset providing quotes. Like, why do they make it seem so hard? They not too smart or something? Can't use a template? Wouldn't take more than a few minutes right?

  • -1

    Cant be arsed reading half the comments.

    But there is nothing council can do as it will be grandfathered in. Ive did this for a pool at one of my property's.

  • I'm always amused when a lot of people here advise you to escalate the situation by telling him to f off or leaving tons of bad reviews or report him etc etc. I would simply ignore him and move on. When people dish out this sort of 'advice' do they even think 2 steps ahead? What if the person is some irrational nutjob? They know where you live etc.

  • Realistically how much would it cost you to remediate potential issues with the council if they checked.

    This sort of extortion by the guy is ACA worthy to the point the media or crowdsource could cover any potential issues and hopefully stop this scumbag.

  • This "builder" seems like a worthless piece of scum that you should completely ignore. I would not want to give them any business, no matter how small, or want to deal with them at any capacity. Their threats are empty and meaningless. I also suspect that the work will be extremely shoddy, if anything gets done at all.

  • +1

    Threaten back to take matter to POLICE

    • In most states blackmail is a crime. He can report you that's all well and good, but the added condition of providing a benefit/advantage to him makes it blackmail.

      I am not a lawyer but that's the gist of it.

      After that it becomes blackmail inception lul

  • That's blackmail. You just have to be careful not to blackmail the guy threatening him or saying "this is illegal… if you report my building I will report you, bla bla bla…).

    I'd recommend you do some good and make the world a better place, act and report to the authorities. It's up to them to judge the crime.

  • +3

    Check if he is even a builder. You can do a license check on service nsw, just google it. A lot of builders are not even insured to be working with clients directly. A lot of license are limited. He may even be fraudulently selling his services that he is not 'on paper' qualified to sell. Then use as amo against him.

    PS: unless the structure is unsafe or too close to your neighbors they don't care, especially since it was existing for so long and installed by the previous owner. The council probably doesn't even have their DA records in the computer system from 20 years ago so they would have to go through quite a few boxes to find if a DA was present or not lol.

  • +1

    As stated above. It’s simple. This is blackmail or extortion.

    Report him to the police.

    This scumbag has done something similiar before and will probably do the same again until stopped. So think of the poor next victim (maybe old lady/man) he may standover in the future you will be helping out by reporting him now.

    Preventing him from hurting anyone else in the future.

    What cheerful world we live in. With so many upright and moral citizens. Resorting to blackmail to scam job.

  • +1

    Please keep us updated … Worst thing is posts that leave us hanging lol

  • +1

    if you got the time, you can follow him to all of his building sites and report any breach/violation you see to the council (e.g. noise, illegal parking, leaving building materials on footpath etc)

  • +1

    So you got into an argument and the other guy wants to do the right thing by the council.

  • OP have you looked on your Knox Council Website for details? As per https://www.knox.vic.gov.au/Files/Building/Is_a_Permit_Requi... your don’t even need a permit for certain pergolas and carports as long as they are not too big in size.

    Most councils nowadays use satellite imaging to validate there are no illegal structures or extensions. If anything was of concern they would have already made you aware of it within last 5 years.

  • Isn't there a simple builder review website?

  • +3

    Blackmail is a crime, at least in NSW

    https://www.mondaq.com/australia/criminal-law/876106/what-is....

    Report this builder to the police.

  • Ch-Checkity check your deck before you wr-wreckity wreck your deck.

  • Great opportunity.

    Step one: Get it on tape

    Step two: agree to his proposal

    Step three: wait a week or two for him to start

    Step four: get your solicitor to tell him you will be referring him to the policy for blackmail/extortion unless he rectifies the situation.

    Step five: take the money you get off him and goto a proper builder.

    • +2

      Instructions unclear. Please elaborate method on obtaining money from builder in question in Step five.

      • +1

        Your solicitor takes the tape of him blackmailing your, in combination with him NOT reporting you to council, as evidence that he blackmailed you in order to get the job.

        Now if he doesn’t want the crime sent the police, then he would need to refund the client all of the money, as well as solicitors fees, as well as extra money to cover the costs of undoing the shoddy work which he started doing. To the order of several thousands if not low tens of thousands.

        The last bit of money- it’s not blackmail. You get another builder to say his work was dog shit and give a quote to rectify it.

  • Report him to fair trading.

    Sounds like he is intimidating you into getting him to do the work by threats

    • Majority of councils exempt decks and car ports. Don't worry about it. Or check your local council planning regs.
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