Aim to build strong future

Aim to build strong future

Value Homes is excited to announce that our very own business owner, Ralf Dutton, has been appointed as the state’s President of the Master Builders Association. Equipped with over 25 years of experience within the local construction industry Ralf Dutton is passionate to continue building a strong future for our region.

Peter Carruthers – the Cairns Post 16th March 2019

BORN and bred in Cairns, founder of Value Homes Ralf Dutton is the first North Queenslander to be appointed as the Master Builders Association (MBA) state president since its founding more than 120 years ago.

Before starting his own business in 1992, Mr Dutton studied a long-distance course to receive his builder’s license. He completed the last year of the course in 1974 when on the ground in Darwin helping clean up after Cyclone Tracy.

“At that stage, it was not required to go into that much depth to get a builder’s license but I went for that four-year course because for me it was the only way to gather the additional skills that builders need these days,” he said.

He then took on a job managing Ballantine Homes, which built more than 2000 homes with Mr Dutton at the helm.

Since founding Value Homes, Mr Dutton estimates the company has built 1200 homes in the Cairns area.

“My history is affordable housing and putting people in a proper homes without compromise. Coming back from seeing the devastation in Darwin we think the way we put our homes together is superior,” he said.

Mr Ralf started with the MBA while at Ballantine Homes 30 years ago.

“You can only stay there for so long before you have to be on the committee. Then I became chair and then went to Brisbane as a state councillor and it just kept progressing. Then I got onto the state housing committee as the chair for some 15 years,” he said.

Mr Dutton said balancing the demands of the MBA with the needs of Value Homes had been tough but he had been grateful of his son Blake’s contribution to the business.

“Without him I probably wouldn’t have taken on the role, but I do enjoy it. It represents our industry from a regional point of view which I bring to the table and always have,” he said.

Mr Dutton said at the moment, the Cairns residential building industry is in the grip of a “perfect storm”.

“The lending tap has been virtually turned off in regional areas, that is a common call from builders,” he said.

Over-regulation through the Building Industry Fairness Bill is also affecting the industry locally and across the state.

“I have never seen as much red tape in one go as this legislation is bringing to small business … it is chopping a lot of small business and it’s going to overload them with compliance red tape. When they come along to our seminars they are amazed where this has gone,” Mr Dutton said.

“We are working with the Government to help them correct the flaws in the legislation so at least subbies do get paid.”

When not looking after Value Homes from their Mulgrave St office, the considered and systematic builder enjoys hiking in the best wilderness locations the world has to offer.

Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island in Australia rate a high mention, according to Mr Dutton.

“It is a way of keeping fit and a nice leveller because you are in the elements,” he said.

“Last year, I took my two sons to Machu Picchu and walked the Inca trail.”

Employing 13 people directly and up to another 100 as subcontractors across his North Queensland building businesses, Mr Dutton said he was aware of how the project building downturn is affecting subbies.

“I feel they are part of the family and we have to try and find them work,” he said.

“It is really tough in Cairns, really tough and we are hearing some sad stories and there is nothing on the horizon that it is going to end any time soon.

“The papers are saying it is going to sort itself out in a few years, well, I know some families can’t wait that long.”

Mr Dutton said MBA continues to lobby for a boost to the first-home buyers’ grant after a request for increased grant money was rejected for regional first-home buyers.

“We are going to ask them to reconsider and continually ask them to reconsider. What a hard ship to turn around where you have got withdrawal of finance, a tight valuation market and builders being cast as horrible people,” he said.

“A perfect storm is sitting there in the housing industry in Cairns.”

Value Homes director and President of Master Builders Queensland Ralf Dutton. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN