Leaky lawsuit

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Local ratepayers could be picking up a $40 million tab to repair a leaky Queenstown apartment complex.

Work to repair the first of four blocks in the 84-unit Oaks Shores Apartments, off Frankton Road, is due to start in April.

In 2015 the complex’s body corporate, representing unit owners, lodged a weathertightness claim against Queenstown’s council in the High Court, without quantifying it.

Once the first block’s repaired, body corporate chairman Graeme Kruger says they’ll work out what the whole job will cost, then put that amount in their claim against the council.

A quantity surveyor has estimated that it will cost $40m, but Kruger suggests that could be out 15 to 30 per cent, either way.

The body corporate’s suing the council as it issued the original building consent in the early 2000s.

Kruger says it’s not pursuing developer Ross Wensley as his company went bust.

Brosnan Construction, which is handling the repair job, states on its website that the scope of works includes “remediation of the external cladding, structural elements, balconies, balustrades, external walls, window joinery, roofs, courtyard, basement walls and addressing passive fire non-compliant works”.

Kruger says his body corporate’s already spent more than $2m on investigation work like drilling holes and lifting tiles, and temporarily fixing some apartments.

He says they considered rebuilding the whole complex, but that would have cost about $120m, excluding demolition.

The repair job could take between three and five years, he suggests.

“Not one owner’s happy, but they’re all resigned to the fact that there’s no alternative.

“The owners’ basic sentiment is that we all just want a fair and reasonable outcome, and look forward to having the issues repaired.”

In 2010, Queenstown’s council stared down a $3.8m leaky-home lawsuit brought by unit owners of another Frankton Rd Wensley complex, The Point.

Becks Caswell, The Oaks Group’s local boss, says she’s “very excited that we’re going to end up with a beautiful product”.

“It’s going to be lovely to get all the problems that we have been experiencing fixed, and we see it as a very positive process.”

Queenstown’s council’s response to the body corporate’s pending lawsuit.

Comms advisor Lu Morris says the council “intends to rigorously defend the claim”.

It has also “expressed concern to the plaintiffs that they have not provided sufficient expert evidence, reports or explanation to support their plan to quantify the weathertightness claim in the way planned”.

Morris confirms the council hasn’t had insurance cover for leaky-building claims received since June 30, 2009.

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