Sydney-based carpenter Mick Mattarelli said the scheme would not help small operators such as him get more work because the renovation threshold was too high.
“It’s really just helping out the bigger builders who are doing major renovations,” Mr Mattarelli said.
To qualify for the $25,000 grant, home owners needed to spend at least $150,000 and up to $750,000 on renovations that exclude extensions such as granny flats, swimming pools and sheds.
“We can’t do jobs that big, but also, it’s not our market. Many tradies like us only do smaller renovation works worth between $25,000 to $60,000, so it’s not going to help us,” he said.
“I don’t think many home owners would be enticed to spend at least $150,000 in this environment, so it seems to me that it’s only for people who already have the money ready to go.”
MCG Quantity Surveyor director Marty Sadlier said the federal government’s attempt to boost the construction industry with the renovation scheme in its current form had not only missed the point, but missed the target, by some margin.
“This scheme is not creating new jobs. It can only be supporting existing jobs in the pipeline,” Mr Sadlier said.
“I see this new scheme only helping people who could afford to build a new house or a home owner that does not need the support.”
Mr Sadlier said the six-month time frame was also hardly enough to complete a substantial renovation.
“You only have six months to get a planning approval, have an architect or draftsman compile the documentation, and have builders tender on the job,” he said.
“You also need to get finance, which is now taking longer because banks have tightened their lending rules, so the time frame itself is not long enough.”
However, Prekaro Projects director Jordan Galloway said the grant would help builders such as him stay afloat.
“I think it will probably bring around 10 per cent more work in the market because it would push people who were close to building or renovating to pull the trigger,” he said.
“It will keep builders like me stay afloat and get through this tough period, because we’re barely making ends meet.
“Contracts have evaporated so the grant will tide us over until the economy recovers.”
The Urban Development Institute’s Victorian chief executive, Danni Addison, said the federal government’s stimulus package could support about 6200 new home builds over the six months and was a “great start”.
But she said it had “real shortcomings for the state’s development industry”, given the requirement that construction must commence within three months of the signing of a building contract during the six-month period the program will operate.
“The time frame and builder contract requirements basically exclude off-the-plan apartment sales and many townhouse developments, as they need significant lead time to get projects going,” Ms Addison said.
It will only help sell unsold apartments in projects that were already going to happen,
— Ken Morrison, Property Council chief
It would also, she said, not support new land sales, given the 12-24 months it currently takes for land to be titled and be ready for construction.
Ms Addison said there were now about 2700 titled lots in Victoria’s growth corridors and another 3500, that were expected to be titled over the next six months.
She said there needed to be a big push by the state government and referral authorities to get as many titled lots into the system over the next six months.
While generally supportive of the stimulus package, Property Council chief Ken Morrison echoed UDIA Victoria’s concerns about the limited benefit it would bring to the new apartment market.
“It will only help sell unsold apartments in projects that were already going to happen,” Mr Morrison said. “It won’t pull through any new apartment projects. The government won’t be getting the stimulus bang for its buck.
“We’ll be raising this issue with them.”
Mr Morrison said that because the stimulus only benefited titled land, this was a “big flag” for state government land titles offices.
“They will be snowed under with applications from tomorrow. They really need to get their processing up to scratch.”