Ratepayers won’t have to stump up for apartment repairs

A fourth Queenstown apartment complex developed by Invercargill’s Ross Wensley is undergoing multi-million dollar repairs.

But, unlike the last two cases, ratepayers won’t be stumping up for them.

The Glebe, on the high-profile corner of Stanley, Beetham and Melbourne Sts, is being completely refitted over 10-plus years.

Cromwell-based building consultant Nick Knowles confirms it’s suffered the same defects as three Wensley complexes on Frankton Rd — Oaks Shores, Oaks Club Resort and The Point — which were also built in the 2000s.

However, he says The Glebe’s body corporate’s ‘‘gone down a different path compared to taking the litigation path’’.

Owners of the 38 high-end apartments are footing the entire repair bill themselves.

Owners of the 41-unit Oaks Club — which closed last September for two-plus years of repairs — sued the council for having signed off their building consent, and because other parties, including Wensley, had gone bust.

In 2021, council agreed to fork out about $40 million in a confidential, out-of-court settlement.

Meanwhile, the 73 owners of the 84-unit Oaks Shores were suing council, and other parties, for $162.9m in one of New Zealand’s biggest leaky-building cases.

Council agreed in late 2022 to another confidential, out-of-court settlement.

Though the sum wasn’t revealed, it’s reportedly going to be a major burden on ratepayers for many years to come.

This complex is being repaired block by block over several years, with the contractor about halfway through the job.

Meanwhile, another Wensley complex, The Point, has also been totally rebuilt.

Owners to meet cost of 10+ year refit

Knowles says with The Glebe, which had similar design faults to these other Wensley complexes, ‘‘we’ve done a lot of work over the last seven years, and we’ve probably got seven or eight years to go’’.

He identifies several issues including leaky cladding that’s having to be replaced.

One example is the complete wall facing Heartland Hotel.

‘‘At the same time we’ve got a number of roofs that are either leaking or about to leak, so we’re doing those, and we’ve just finished doing all the balconies.

‘‘Our main focus is heat, sound and making sure there are no leaks or moisture in the building.’’

A building consent application notes The Glebe ‘‘lacks centralised heating and ventilation’’.

Offending wall: “that complete wall was leaking,” building consultant Nick Knowles says

Knowles says the Melbourne St arterial project’s triggered recent work on the facade fronting this road, ‘‘which is going to go from a cart and a donkey down there once a day to a major thoroughfare, so there’s going to be a lot of noise’’.

Windows have been replaced with thermally-broken frames and hush glass.

‘‘Considerable funding from the body corporate’s gone into the Melbourne St facade,’’ Knowles says.

The Glebe’s penthouse had been completely gutted and redone, while all other apartments are being progressively upgraded.

Having the owners foot the entire bill has meant the hotel’s been able to stay open and trading, he adds — ‘‘at present, there’s only two units out of play’’.

‘‘You probably have better control over what you’re doing.’’

In a recent Sky Open TV doco series, A Living Hell — Apartment Disasters, Wensley rubbished claims he’d built faulty apartments, sheeting blame instead on the ‘‘experts’’ he’d employed and Queenstown’s council.

‘‘It was not me who was out there with a hammer and nails working.’’

He said the council had ticked off the work, and products used were all government-approved.

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