Canterbury's building crisis as widespread as leaky home issue

Insurance litigator Duncan Webb said one of the problems with homes in Canterbury was hidden defects. Photo / File
Insurance litigator Duncan Webb said one of the problems with homes in Canterbury was hidden defects. Photo / File

A building crisis in Canterbury could be as widespread as the leaky home issue, lawyers say.

More evidence of shoddy repair jobs is making its way into court, with home owners suing insurers and building companies over earthquake repair jobs which have left their homes in a worse state than ever.

Home repairs were being signed off with documentation showing they had zero defects, although lawyers representing owners said the repairs were defective or substandard, and had been given codes of compliance when they should not have.

Insurance litigator Duncan Webb told Radio NZ this issue could be as big as the leaky buildings crisis.

"There is an enormous number of repairs and many of them are not being consented, they're not having an independent oversight of council inspections and they're being project managed by project managers who are getting directives which are cost focused not quality focused."

He said one of the problems was hidden defects.

"A lot work has been done on foundations and a lot of new methods are being used for foundation repairs. If they deteriorate it may be that the deterioration will not be immediately visible, it will take along time to manifest itself."

Home owner Melanie Tobeck told Radio NZ her home was given its practical completion certification from Corbell Construction without any input or sign off from herself or her husband.

She said Corbell also created a Quality Assurance document retrospectively.

"I asked for what I call the open word version of that Quality Assurance document so I could check the date it had been created because something about it didn't make sense."

That was when they admitted in a meeting with a number of others that it had been created a week or two before, which was nine months after practical completion, she said.

Ms Tobeck said this pointed to complete incompetence or that the document was created in an attempt to deceive her and her husband.

Ms Tobeck said she complained to her insurance company, Southern Response, and demanded the case be escalated to its internal disputes process.

The claim was still being processed.

Corbell's managing director Craig Jones said he was not happy with the situation Ms Tobeck was left in, but could not comment on the specifics.

"We are in a situation where some of the outcomes are far from ideal but often they are outside of our control.

"We are often the meat in the sandwich. We are acting for the insurer and sometimes the insurer and the home owner don't see eye to eye and often it's outside of our control as to what the solution is."

Corbell were committed to resolving any issues homeowners have with the quality of its work, Mr Jones said.

- APNZ

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