Owners take out $2.5m leaky home claim

PROBLEM PROPERTY: The 54 Fryer St apartment block in Queenstown.
PROBLEM PROPERTY: The 54 Fryer St apartment block in Queenstown.

Disgruntled Queenstown apartment owners are suing Queenstown Lakes District Council, developers and engineers for more than $2.5 million in a leaky home claim set down for a trial this year.

Associate Judge Rob Osborne in the High Court in Invercargill ordered a trial to start in November in the case taken by a group of apartment owners, who claimed estimated costs of more than $2.5m to fix leaky and defective units at 54 Fryer St, Queenstown.

Court documents say the owners are suing the council, two developers, a designer and a structural engineer. They claim design, construction and mechanical engineering defects.

The council sought an order to allow testing and inspection of apartments and more information from the owners, who say at least two properties are uninhabitable because of fungi and rot.

Built in 2004, the apartment block was the subject of proceedings in a Weathertight tribunal which dealt with essentially the same litigation.

The tribunal allocated a hearing in August last year but the owners decided to move their claim to the High Court.

Judge Osborne said the court was left to balance the needs of evidence-gathering with the expectations of the parties in relation to the conclusion of litigation.

Owners claimed the apartment block defects led to an estimated repair cost of $820,481, plus structural estimates of $300,000, mechanical engineering and condensation repairs of $500,000, professional fees of $200,000, consequential losses, such as loss of rent, estimated as $416,037 and another $412,000 in economic losses.

The council sought orders to identify alleged design defects in structural plans, where the defects caused water leaks, plus particulars of building code violations and how variations to consents caused damage.

The judge said the council had a significant measure of success in the application for better claim information and ordered a comprehensive breakdown of alleged defects and losses.

On the other hand, the owners were dealing with the apparent contamination of at least one apartment.

"This legitimate interest is to be balanced against the council's desire to conduct the testing," he said.

Efforts to contact the parties and their representatives were unsuccessful yesterday.

The judge ordered a trial to start on November 25.

The Southland Times