Lack of interest in home reno scheme

JUST 0.03 per cent of Queenslanders were forecast to take up the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant to do a major renovation, with the Federal Government banking on a higher uptake for new home builds.

The government defended the scheme, saying it was intended to be a short, sharp boost to bring back home builders or renovators spooked out of the market by the pandemic shutdown.

The number of Queenslanders expected to sign up to the scheme as a whole is more than 10-times fewer than the take up of the $20,000 instant asset write-off scheme in 2017-18.

Modelling for the HomeBuilder scheme, announced last week giving $25,000 grants to people building a new home or doing a substantial renovation, forecast about 6300 Queenslanders would take up the offer.

A quarter of those, or about 1600, are expected to use the cash for renovations over the next seven months.

Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said the scheme was designed to bring back home builders or would-be renovators who were spooked when COVID-19 hit. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said the scheme was designed to bring back home builders or would-be renovators who were spooked when COVID-19 hit. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

But it will well short of the take up of more popular schemes with lower buy-ins like the instant asset write off - which had about 85,000 Queenslanders take it up over 2017-18 and spend about $1 billion. The HomeBuilder scheme has come under criticism since it was announced for a narrow eligibility.

A person has to be willing to spend at least $150,000 to get the $25,000 grant, while earning under $125,000 as an individual or $200,000 in their household.

Housing Minister Michael Sukkar defended the scheme and its intentions.

"It is designed to drive demand today from Australians who are looking to build a new home, or to undertake a major rebuild of their existing home, but withdrew from the market when COVID-19 hit in March," he said.

"This requires you to create a sense of urgency and some pretty strict timelines on getting work done to ensure there is enough work to keep our tradies employed."

Almost 4000 Queenslanders had registered interest with the Federal Government over the HomeBuilder scheme as of yesterday, more than any other state.

"And it is clear HomeBuilder has struck a chord with Queenslanders who lead the nation in registering their interest in a grant," Mr Sukkar said.

Master Builders Queensland deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said there had been mixed reaction to the scheme, with small interest in the renovations, but much more in the new home builds.

"The overwhelming sentiment is that the ($150,000 threshold) is a lot of money. No one was expecting that," he said.

"It's not fair to say it won't work, but it was a surprise. We can understand why they did it."

The high threshold was set in part to prevent another "pink batts" scandal, a 2008 Rudd Government stimulus scheme that was linked to four deaths and attracted some dodgy contractors.


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