News.com.au can reveal that last Thursday, Alpha Building Group Pty Ltd went into liquidation.
All staff have been sacked and 10 homeowners across the Greater Melbourne area have been left with unfinished projects following the company’s demise.
Brent Morgan of insolvency firm Rogers Reidy, the appointed liquidator, told news.com.au that more than 100 creditors are owed $3.5 million.
About $2.5 million of that is from material costs while sub-contractors are owed just under a million and consultants are owed “a small amount” of between $15,000 to $20,000.
Three days before Alpha went bust, on January 15, news.com.au understands that a staff member tried to attend their workplace but were turned away as the company had ceased trading.
Blake*, a dad-of-three, has been left devastated by the news, with fears his plans for a $1.8 million dream home have gone up in smoke.
“Me and my wife have been saving for six years, we’ve just started a new business, it’s really come at a terrible time,” the 39-year-old homeowner told news.com.au.
To date, the family have paid $350,000 to Alpha by way of progress payments, causing him to lament “all we have to show for it is a slab of concrete”.
Looking back, Blake can see some signs that all was not right with the builder.
Around Christmas time, Alpha Building Group informed customers they would be returning from the end of year break on January 8.
But when Blake sent them an email once this period was up, he received a bounce back saying they would be returning on January 22.
“There was sort of doubt in my mind (after that),” he said.
Blake said he had been emailing the construction firm for months after paying them a progress claim in late November.
He said after the payment, no more work happened on his site.
The young dad, with three kids under the age of nine, also said in the days leading up to the liquidation appointment, the company’s phone number became disconnected.
The liquidator, Mr Morgan, said the reasons behind Alpha’s collapse “tells the story we’ve been hearing for some time”.
That includes rising costs of labour, increasing prices of materials, onerous government taxes and a general lack of profitability.
He said in June last year, Alpha had seven staff but this had dwindled down to just one, aside from relatives of the directors, by the time it went under.
The Victorian-based construction firm, headquartered in the Melbourne suburb of Camberwell, has been a registered business for nearly two decades, since 2005.
It was directed by Dean Amendola and Bruno Merlino. News.com.au attempted to contact the directors for comment.
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Alpha Building Group is one of the first large building companies to go bust in 2024, after a hellish two years for the construction industry.
Last week, news.com.au reported on another Melbourne builder, Montego Homes Pty Ltd, plummeting into voluntary administration.
A staggering 2349 construction firms have collapsed in the past year — with fears more may fall soon.
In times of economic hardship and inflation, building companies are usually the first to feel the pinch as they run on such small margins.
Indeed, of the 8471 business collapses for 2023, almost 28 per cent were in the building and construction industry, according to data put out by the corporate regulator.
The alarming trend has been blamed on a “perfect storm” of factors, including fixed price contracts, escalating costs, supply chain disruptions and tradie shortages.
The previous Morrison government’s HomeBuilder grant, which was introduced in June 2020 and handed out $2.52 billion to owner-occupiers who wanted to build or substantially renovate a home, turbocharged the sector.
More than 130,000 customers signed on for the program, with many tradies agreeing to the work under fixed-price contracts that soon became unsustainable as prices began to soar.
Shamefully, in 96 per cent of cases where small and medium sized businesses go under, only between zero and 11 cents is recovered for every dollar owed to out-of-pocket creditors.
Last name withheld over privacy concerns*
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