A leaky Auckland high-rise apartment complex under repair is wearing a giant white protective sheath to guard against further water damage.
Hobson Gardens, the two-tower 97-unit block at 205-215 Hobson St near Spaghetti Junction, is undergoing repairs costing about $15 million, although initial estimates to fix it were closer to $20 million.
A new exterior facade is going on and the upper, more exposed, levels have been protected while the work is under way, hence the sheath.
Mainzeal Property & Construction, one of the country's largest and most active builders, built the blocks and is also the contractor engaged to fix them.
Negotiations over the repairs were protracted and at one stage were heading to the High Court at Auckland but were settled in advance.
Three years ago, Peter Gomm, Mainzeal's chief executive, said his firm had held discussions with Hobson Gardens' owners, but the scope of the repair had then not been ascertained.
"We take the issues very responsibly and we're trying to get it sorted. We're trying to keep it at a very professional relationship," Mr Gomm said in 2009.
Some apartment owners fretted about having the same builder back. A question was asked at a body corporate meeting if Mainzeal should be invited to tender for the work because "Mainzeal took shortcuts during the original construction and there was no certainty they would not do the same thing during remedials".
But negotiations resulted in the builder returning to the huge fixup.
Harcourts advertised a unit in the block as: "This seller can't cope with the issues associated with the apartment and has instructed us to dispose of this apartment below CV and below the previous bargain."
Last May, Justice Rebecca Ellis in the High Court at Auckland noted the protracted nature of the case.
"These proceedings were commenced on September 30, 2005, and are for trial beginning May 31, 2011.
The trial is presently estimated to take between six and 10 weeks.
Mr [Matt] Josephson for the plaintiffs [Hobson Gardens' body corporate] advised today that it will be the largest leaky buildings case so far to go to a hearing. The claim concerns an apartment complex known as Hobson Gardens," the judge said.
An Auckland Council spokeswoman refused to say how much had been paid.
"All parties agreed to settle on a confidential basis so we are not at liberty to disclose any numbers."
* Twin-tower leaky CBD Auckland units.
* Large scale repair work now under way.
* Auckland Council, Mainzeal named in court documents.
* Now under repair.