Deadline for HomeBuilder paperwork extended to June 2025 after calls from applicants
The Australian dream of owning a home is in sight for Michael Thompson, with the finishing touches being put on his South Australian house.
The milestone had been overshadowed by his disappointment at missing the deadline to secure his $25,000 HomeBuilder grant from the Australian government by a matter of days.
That all changed on Sunday when federal Housing Minister Julie Collins announced the government would work with the states and territories to extend the deadline for people to submit their paperwork.
The deadline was originally April 30 and will now be pushed out to June 30, 2025.
For Mr Thompson, it is a massive relief — not having a completion certificate from his builder was holding up him receiving the funds.
"On Thursday I was sure that I wasn't going to get it [the grant], so to now find out that we will get it, it is a massive relief," he said
The prospect of not securing the grant when so close to the finish line was frustrating.
"It's almost done, that would have been the heartbreaking thing," Mr Thompson said.
"They have started doing painting and the final touches.
"I had almost resigned myself to the fact that I was going to miss out by possibly a matter of days and that would have been terrible."
Australians took advantage of assistance
The HomeBuilder initiative was introduced by the federal government during the COVID pandemic and have been administered by the states and territories.
To receive a $25,000 grant, people had to meet strict criteria, including:
- Spend between $150,000 and $750,000 renovating a home or building a new home
- Sign a contract between June 4 and December 31, 2020
- Be the registered owner on the title.
- The home must be their principal place of residence when completed or settled
The scheme was then extended, with the government offering a $15,000 grant for eligible contracts signed between January 1 and March 31, 2021.
Applications to apply for the grants closed on April 14, 2021.
A grant is paid when:
- The first payment has been made to the builder for a new build
- At least $150,000 has been paid for renovations
- A practical completion certificate from the developer is submitted for an off-the-plan home
The deadline to submit the relevant documentation to prove this was April 30.
Mr Thompson was eligible for the $25,000 grant and construction on his home started in February 2022.
It was due to be completed by December 2022, which was pushed out to March 2023 on account of COVID and supply chain issues.
Labour shortage continues to be felt
The HomeBuilder grant initially required work to begin within three months of the contract being signed.
Due to supply issues and the demand on the construction industry, this was pushed out to six months and then again to 18 months.
But the deadline to submit the paperwork to receive the grant remained.
Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said supply and labour shortages had pushed out the time it took to build a home from nine months to at least a year.
Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn. (ABC News: John Gunn)
She said extending the deadline would take the pressure off builders trying to deliver projects, but getting boots on the ground was continuing to be "really difficult".
"It takes about 40 different trades to complete a home," she said.
"Normally, you would schedule them literally one after the other, with no breaks to meet the deadline.
"That has not been the case and as a consequence there have been significant delays.
"It's been exacerbated by increases in prices of both materials and labour."
Applicants call for action
The delays have seen people rallying together to call on the deadline to be extended.
In South Australia, a parliamentary committee in February heard that as many as 1,400 people in the state who had applied for the grants may miss the deadline.
While waiting for his house, Mr Johnson had connected with others racing to meet the deadline.
He said that was about letting them know how to contact their federal member and writing letters to draw attention to the issue.
"I have spoken to a lot of people who are in the same boat and we signed the contracts with the belief that we were going to get this money because there was no deadline when we signed," he said.
"Then they added this end date which meant a number of us who bought off the plan would miss out."
The paperwork each applicant is required to submit for the funds differs depending on the nature of the work. (ABC News: Chris Gillette)
Mr Thompson said he had been starting to doubt the deadline would be extended.
"It was only fair to extend it, but we haven't been receiving any sort of positive responses in recent months, despite the media attention," he said.
"We'd all lost hope, to be honest."
Can I still apply for a HomeBuilder grant?
No. The applications for the grants closed in April 2021.
Who does the extension apply to?
The extension will only apply to existing, already approved HomeBuilder applicants who had received formal approval under the scheme for off-the-plan purchases or renovations.
What needs to happen for the extension to come into effect?
The extension is not a done deal, as it is subject to the agreement of states and territories.
This is because state and territories administer the grants.