Leaky building case going to Supreme Court

By Imran Ali

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This house on Sandford Rd in Ruakaka is the subject of a dispute between owner Olivia Wai Yee Lee and the Whangarei District Council. Photo/John Stone
This house on Sandford Rd in Ruakaka is the subject of a dispute between owner Olivia Wai Yee Lee and the Whangarei District Council. Photo/John Stone

The Supreme Court will next month hear a dispute from a Ruakaka homeowner who is alleging negligence by the Whangarei District Council in a leaky building case.

Olivia Wai Yee Lee first took proceedings against WDC in May 2014 for alleged negligence in inspecting her house while it was under construction on Sandford Rd, Ruakaka, between 2006 and 2008.

She applied for a building consent for the house in August 2006, and it was granted by the council in October.

Work began in January 2007 and council staff carried out a number of inspections.

But the house failed its final inspection in March 2008, and the council sent a notice for Ms Lee to address a number of issues with spouting, internal and roof gutters, and rainwater heads.

WDC successfully applied to the High Court for summary judgment against her on the grounds Ms Lee's proceeding against it was filed out of time under the Limitation Act 1950.

The Act has a time limit of six years for proceedings against a territorial authority.

Her appeal against the summary judgment in the Court of Appeal was dismissed and she then went to the Supreme Court.

The highest court noted that in February 2008, Ms Lee engaged a building consultant to assess the house. He noted faults in exterior cladding, roof draining and balconies.

The Supreme Court allowed her to argue, in the substantive appeal to be heard on October 19, whether the application for an assessor's report under the Watertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006 "stopped the clock" for limitation purposes with regards to proceedings against WDC - which means whether or not the period between February 2008 and April 2011 falls within the six-year limitation period.

The matter for determination in the Supreme Court is whether, in terms of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006, the application for an assessor's report "stopped the clock" for her to take a case against the council.

- Northern Advocate

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