Creditors reportedly owed more than $1.2 million by Queenstown builder Hartland Construction Ltd meet today after the firm was placed under administration.
Hartland, run by Marc Steenland, held the local GJ Gardner franchise before it was terminated in February.
GJ Gardner national managing director Grant Porteous says he moved to terminate the franchise because Hartland was failing to pay suppliers and collect debts – including $200,000 allegedly owed by Steenland’s own father for a Jack’s Point home.
Hartland agreed to go into voluntary administration at Dunedin High Court last week after Otago firm Adams Plumbing applied to have it liquidated.
Five customers in Queenstown are waiting for their homes to be finished.
Porteous: “I personally travelled and visited the customers with homes under construction to provide assistance and advice [last week]. I continue to be in personal contact with these customers. Their homes will be fully completed and to my knowledge are currently being progressed.
“I understand that this will be at no extra cost to these customers.”
Hartland, based on Frankton’s Glenda Drive, is understood to be owed $342,000 by related parties – such as Steenland Construction – and $283,000 by its shareholders, according to Porteous.
The three shareholders are Marc Steenland and Kylie Steenland with one share each and Steenland Trustees Ltd with 99,998. Marc Steenland, sole director for three years after taking over the business from Queenstowner Laurie Mains in April 2009, did not respond to Mountain Scene calls.
Adams Plumbing managing director Mark Preston says: “We issued liquidation proceedings but I don’t really want to comment further.”
Auckland insolvency practitioner Bryan Edward Williams confirmed he has been appointed administrator.
The first meeting of creditors was to be held at 2pm today at Queenstown Events Centre.
Creditors include a number of Queenstown firms such as PlaceMakers, rumoured to be owed as much as $400,000.
Matt Cleaver, Queenstown PlaceMakers franchise owner, says he doesn’t want to comment about the situation.
Porteous has also contacted customers’ insurers, Contracting Bonding Ltd, to fast-track any claims should Hartland fail to complete their homes.
Before the franchise was terminated, customers had raised issues about their experience in building homes. Steenland had also failed to introduce additional funds that had been agreed and still owes “considerable” franchise fees, Porteous alleges.
Since 2005, several Otago construction franchise operators have gone into liquidation, including Landmark Homes
and Signature Homes.