Building bungle costs owners $41k

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Angry owners of a Queenstown apartment complex are being stung $41,500 each in the resort’s latest leaky home case.

The 12-unit apartment complex on Queenstown Hill’s Edinburgh Drive was built in 1999 – during the prime period for approved building practices which were later found to be flawed.

A building surveyors’ report written two summers ago suggests the complex, which has spectacular views of Kelvin Heights and Lake Wakatipu’s Frankton Arm, has “extensive moisture ingress” and the damage is “potentially widespread”.

The report, by Savanna Technical, blames “very poor” workmanship of the ‘external building envelope’.

Apartment owner and body corporate committee member Stan Gyles says once repairs are finished legal action will be considered.

“It’s a building bungle that’s cost us inconvenience and money – tenants have to vacate their building, so there’s also a loss of income.”

Naylor Love, which built the apartments, says the company has always undertaken repair work “for which it is responsible”.

It’s understood any legal claim from the apartment owners is outside the statute of limitations.A building consent’s been lodged for three months of repair work, costing $360,000, including replacing cladding on the entire south wall.

That’s likely to cost some owners, who rent their apartments for up to $370 a night.

Gyles, an Australian wine distributor who bought his unit in 2006, says the work’s too urgent to set aside while the owners pursue legal action.

He’s critical of Naylor Love – the company which also built the leaky Greenstone Apartments, a claim for which was settled out of court last year.

Gyles says Naylor Love refused to take responsibility.

“It’s typical mate. They’re a big national builder with deep pockets and in-house lawyers.”

Naylor Love’s central regional manager Justin Calder says Naylor Love doesn’t necessarily agree or accept the Savanna report’s findings.

“Naylor Love has always undertaken repair work for which it is responsible under all construction contracts and will continue to do so.”

He says the units’ external cladding wouldn’t be consented today.

“Naylor Love was not responsible for either design or consent.”

Queenstown council’s chief executive Adam Feeley says the council’s not aware of leaky issues with the complex.

Queenstown’s council was involved in eight leaky building legal claims last year, its annual report reveals.

Gyles says some owners will find the $41,5000 bill a big impost.

“Whilst the work is necessary, it hasn’t improved the value of the property. It’s not like putting on an extension or a new bathroom – this is all hidden.”

Has it put him off Queenstown, though? “Never,” he declares.

Leaky buildings – homes built after a flawed law change, leaving them prone to moisture and rotting – have sparked billions of dollars of claims on builders, designers and councils.

It can be a minefield to prove blame given the myriad parties involved, including architects, building companies and councils. Problems can also arise through lack of maintenance.

david@scene.co.nz