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Christchurch home owners facing another black hole


Christchurch home owners and ratepayers facing another black hole

Christchurch ratepayers could be facing another black hole with the revelation that their Council building consent processes has not been up to standard, according to an expert in leaky home claims, lawyer Adina Thorn.

She says that individual home owners who have had any building work carried out recently, especially in the case of new builds, should seek independent advice as to the quality and weathertightness- of construction work. The council is unsure how long there has been an issue within the consenting department, which makes it very difficult for owners to know the exact time period in which building consents are at question.

“Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson has said that the approval system in Christchurch was so bad the Council could not tell the Government how many projects might be in breach.

“He told TVNZ's Q+A programme that problems with the Council’s consenting processes predated the earthquakes.”

Ms Thorn says that while the scale of problem is unlikely to match the national issue of leaky homes there are significant parallels between the situations, which have their roots in the lack of quality in construction methods, unsuitable materials and council approval processes.

“The current situation with the Christchurch Council means that owners of relatively new homes cannot be sure that their buildings are sound and I would strongly recommend that they obtain an independent assessment of the workmanship, design and construction methods used.

“This will not only provide peace of mind, but be an essential basis for any legal or remedial claims against the council and other parties.

“It is always more difficult to pursue such issues at a later stage and in respect of leaky building claims the Government backed Financial Assistance Package has a 10-year time limit so many people are already finding they have left things too late.”

Ms Thorn says the current issue with the Council’s consenting records places a stigma on a whole era of construction work and any party looking to purchase a home should also seek independent advice and ensure that they have a thorough inspection carried out by a qualified person.

“There are issues both of weathertightness and engineering that needs to be assessed. Owners of any suspect properties should do the same as this will be the basis on which they can seek compensation for any issues they face.
“In this situation neither the Minister, nor the Council, can put a likely dollar value on what repair work may be needed, but potentially the costs will run to tens of millions of dollars.”

Adina Thorn Lawyers is a specialist law firm that advises on construction issues. See:: www.adinathorn.co.nz.

ends

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