Buyers 'horrified' by apartment nightmare

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 17:59 01/08/2014
Pietta Collins
MONICA TISCHLER/Fairfax NZ

APARTMENT WRANGLE: Pietta Collins says the columns were a surprise, but the builders said they informed buyers about them.

Pietta Collins
MONICA TISCHLER/Fairfax NZ
UNWELCOME ADDITION: Two structural pillars were built into the living room and bedroom of the units.

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Apartment buyer Pietta Collins says her dream new property turned into a nightmare when she found internal structural pillars that weren't identified on building plans made the flat "uninhabitable".

The Auckland woman and her husband have cancelled their contracts for two one-bedroom units in New Lynn's Merchant Quarter apartment tower, claiming misrepresentation and non-disclosure.

Vendors Tasman Cook said buyers were told about the columns.

The Collinses are waiting to see if Tasman Cook will take them to court on the basis of not accepting their cancellation.

"Our apartments are now not livable, can't be tenanted or sold without a huge loss," Collins said.

"We're stuck, it's just horrible."

When the Collinses made their final inspection of the property on July 1, she and her husband had been "shocked" and "horrified" to see two roughly 1 square metre structural pillars built into the living room and bedroom of the units, Collins said.

The unwelcome additions made the bedroom so small only a single bed could comfortably fit inside.

"It was an absolute shock horror," Collins said.

"The pillars were completely encroaching on the room and I thought 'Oh, my God, where does the bed go?"'

The agent's response was that the pillars were put in to cantilever the building, she said.

The kitchen had also been moved back by 1 metre, further changing the size of the bedroom and bathroom.
Tasman Cook director Leonard Ross said all aspects of the apartment's structural design were clearly disclosed in the plans and specifications attached to the sale and purchase agreement as of June 2013.

"The specifications as outlined in the purchase agreement calls for a steel column and beam structure, with reinforced concrete floors," he said. "These columns are completed framed and boxed out and are integral to the structural integrity of this development."

Tasman Cook had worked hard to engage with Collins to resolve the issue and would remain open to continuing the conversation, he said.

Builders Kalmar Construction declined to comment.

Collins said she discussed with agents and developers that she and her husband planned to live in the apartments together.

Building plans even included double beds complete with two pillows and space for bedside tables and other furniture.

Collins now wants to ensure other apartment residents are aware of the columns.

The 14-storey apartments are part of Auckland Council's $35 million redevelopment of New Lynn's Merchant Quarter and are being constructed on the roof of a five-storey council car park.

It already features a shared space, public car park building, 7000 square metres of commercial and retail space and a main street upgrade.

Residents are expected to move in in the coming months.

Collins and her husband put down a 10 per cent deposit of $68,000 in June last year for two level 13 norwest-facing units.

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They paid extra to put in a door between each apartment, making it one big unit.

They had planned to rent it out before moving in themselves in the coming years.

"I was so excited that something like this came up locally," Collins said.

"My roots are here but now this just feels like a big joke on West Auckland."

- Stuff

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