Painstaking wait for houses
Buyers disappointed but developer blames supply chain, labour issues for delay
A drawing of one of the units at Colbeck Manor referred to as the Citadel.

AFTER making downpayments on Colbeck Manor houses in Old Harbour, St Catherine, prospective homeowners say they have been enduring a painstaking wait and have expressed disappointment with the developer — Kemtek Development Limited — for missing delivery deadlines.

They surmise that they are being inconvenienced while their downpayments are used to fund construction of more houses within Colbeck Manor.

However, that theory has been stoutly denied by director of Kemtek Garwin Tulloch, who described the claim as ridiculous and stated that the company is financially sound.

One client told the Jamaica Observer recently that he and his spouse have been racking up unexpected expenses due to the missed deadlines for their house to be delivered.

According the client, who wished to remain anonymous, he paid the company close to $1.5 million in 2020 as a deposit for a house and was promised that it would be delivered by August 2021. However, he said that when August came the delivery date was moved to October 2021.

"October came and we didn't get the house. We were promised a further two months until December. Christmas came and we didn't get it. There was no communication from the developers. There were numerous attempts to get information and updates on the status, which proved futile," he claimed.

"We were told that we were going to get the house in summer this year. Summer came and still we have received no house. Because I was anticipating the handover from 2021, I thought that would eliminate the amount of rent I would have to pay. That rent would go towards mortgage. Based on our budget, we did not calculate that it would run us an additional year of paying rent.

"We were hoping that, as a couple, we would have moved into the house, got married, and start our life. When we bought our new furniture, we had to pay storage fees because the development wasn't ready. Months later when we went back to the furniture store we were told that the fees had increased significantly," the man said.

He told the Observer that the suspense is not a good feeling and said he is disappointed. He had some advice for not only Kemtek but other developers and potential homeowners as well.

"My advice is to be more mindful when making promises, especially when giving deadlines. For people interested in purchasing a home, my suggestion to you is to have a plan B because not all the time projects go according to plan. Don't be discouraged, even though it is hard and challenging. Real estate is not something you can lose out on. More than likely, after COVID-19 the industry will see some sort of spike in the value of your investment," he said.

Another client said that she paid down on one of the houses with the intention to relocate from the violence-prone community in which she currently lives, as she did not want her son growing up in that sort of environment.

"It has inconvenienced me because I really need to move out of the area I am living in. I have to stay and bear what is going on because of them not being ready. The area I live in has frequent outbreaks of violence. At various hours of night it is gunshots right through. Because of that you have to go home early and when you reach home early you just have to stay inside because you don't know when violence is going to take place.

"You are uncomfortable and can't get to socialise how you want, because you have to lock up. I don't even let my son go outside. I don't want him to get used to that kind of environment. They told me that the reason for the delay is COVID-19," she said.

The woman shared that she packed all her belongings, anticipating that she would have moved, but due to the uncertainty she was forced to unpack.

"I inconvenienced myself and started living in one room and packed up my things in another. Thank God I didn't have to pay extra for storage. If they give a deadline, just be real about it. Don't have us all over the place guessing and spelling. When you call the office you hear one thing, but when you go on site you see a different thing," she said.

In a written response to questions from the Observer, Tulloch said he understands the anxiety and concerns that the valued purchasers have regarding the wait. He cited supply chain and labour issues for the delay.

"As a result of the pandemic we have been having serious difficulty getting our usual supplies from our trusted supplier in a timely manner. Production of raw material and then further shipping delays resulted in material shortages in the construction industry and in most industries. An order for overseas deliveries which normally takes 60-90 days can take as long as six months for arrival," Tulloch explained.

"The pandemic caused serious effects on production. As part of our health protocols we have had numerous lockdowns and curfews and despite construction being deemed an essential service, the measures used to contain the deadly virus had serious implications on staff turnout," he added.

However, he said that despite these issues some people have already started to receive their units.

Tulloch pointed out that the amended delivery date for phase one houses was July 2022 and said the company did meet the deadline for a substantial number of purchasers. He added that the company has a structured delivery schedule and has been delivering as much as 15 units weekly.

He said he anticipates that all units in phase one will be delivered "soon, within the next weeks", and Kemtek is following a process which includes the scheduling of appointments for inspection and the delivery of keys.

"…We are cognisant of the anxiety, but at this point we have to do a proper handing over process to our valued homeowners. We start handing over units in phase two in September in the same handover process for inspection and key delivery," he said.

A sample of one of the Vista units at Colbeck Manor
A drawing of the Monarch units at Colbeck Manor
Jason Cross

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