SCAM WARNING: Unethical Building Industry Behaviour

SCAM WARNING: Unethical Building Industry Behaviour

Tips and Advice

There is a scam going on in the building industry that you need to know about.

I hate seeing people get ripped off, which is why I’ll be telling you exactly how the scam works in this newsletter, so you don’t get caught out. I think you’ll be shocked and disappointed, just as I was.

Plus, we’ll look at the challenges faced by owner/builders. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. We’ll look at the benefits of dual living zone homes and I’ll also show you how to design a wardrobe that has space for everything you need.

But first, let’s take a look at this scam …

A scam has just been bought to my attention that I really want to share with you, so you don’t get caught out too.

The scam involves deceptive behaviour by some builders and companies in the termite management industry who are not looking after their customers. This is a massive rip-off and you need to be aware of it.

I’ll explain in a moment how this scam works but let me first start off by saying that this sort of practice makes my blood boil

I won’t be naming names for legal reasons. But I will be letting you know how the scam works and how you can avoid it.

But first let me give you a bit of background …

Termite Protection

We have termites in Australia, so most homes have some form of termite protection. These typically come in the form of chemical barriers or physical barriers.

Your termite barrier – regardless of whether it’s chemical or physical – needs to be inspected at certain intervals after it’s been installed. This is to ensure they are still functioning correctly and haven’t been compromised. How frequently they need to be inspected will depend on the type of barrier and the materials used. Which leads us to the scam.

The scam

The scam specifically relates to physical termite barriers.

You see, many architects specify the type and brand of physical barrier to be used in construction in the construction documentation. However, when it comes time to install the barriers, the quality products that were specified are being swapped out for lesser systems offered by the same manufacturer.

These manufacturers are either marketing to naïve builders who don’t know any better and jump at the price of the cheaper, non-physical barriers, or they are acting under the direction of unscrupulous builders. Either way the customer is not getting what the architect specified.

Now, you might be wondering why this is such a big deal if there’s still termite protection being installed.

But customers are not getting what they’ve asked for. They are getting a cheaper system that ends up costing them much, much more in the long run.


Because these cheaper systems need frequent inspections. And that’s the sting in the tail of this scam.

How the scam works

As per your warranty, your termite management system needs to be inspected at set intervals.

The non-physical barrier products need to be inspected every 12 months, whereas the physical barriers don’t need to be inspected for as much as 10 or even 15 years.

These inspections are quite expensive, meaning the company makes up to 10 – 15 times as much from their inspection service by using their non-physical system in place of their physical systems.

And where does that extra profit for them come from?

From you, the unsuspecting homeowner.

And it’s not just a few extra inspections. It’s an annual inspection every year that you own that property.

Think about that for a moment … every … single … year …

From what I can glean we’re not talking about a simple administrative error here. We’re talking about a deliberately deceptive action by members of the termite management industry and unscrupulous builders.

How to avoid getting ripped off

Here’s how you can avoid becoming another victim of this scam.

The first option is to have us create and administer your building contract for you. We can ensure that the exact product is specified and installed. There are many upsides in having us look after your interests during the construction phase and beyond. We will make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

The other, is to get it in writing from your builder that they will ONLY use a physical barrier that you specify. Then check your inspection service agreement to ensure that you don’t need annual inspection. Your warranty should spell out exactly how frequently you need to have inspections carried out.

Of course, this is just one example of how scams and unscrupulous behaviour in the building industry works.

If you have any questions, or concerns about any upcoming projects, or need any advice on anything to do with renovations or new home builds, please feel free to contact us.


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Dion Seminara Architect


Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 20 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.