David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Pillar shock prompts apartment dispute

Purchasers warned to get expert advice before signing up to properties off plans.

Pietta Collins says she was stunned to see a pillar in the bedrooms of apartments at New Lynn's Merchant Quarter. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Pietta Collins says she was stunned to see a pillar in the bedrooms of apartments at New Lynn's Merchant Quarter. Photo / Sarah Ivey

A new apartment buyer faces the possibility of a legal row with a developer after finding window and bed space blocked by pillars she claims were not on the plans.

The developer insists the floor-to-ceiling pillars were declared -- prompting a warning to buyers to get expert advice before buying off the plans.

Nurse Pietta Collins said her first walk-through of two apartments she bought in the Merchant Quarter building in New Lynn left her feeling horrified because plans for the 10-storey development showed no sign of the columns.

Mrs Collins said she was inspired to buy the apartments, which cost a combined $570,000, after watching Mayor Len Brown talking about the suburb's renewal on television last year.

Attempts to view the work in progress were unsuccessful, so her first tour of the near-finished building last month left her feeling disappointed, she said.

On walking into the first apartment bedroom, she saw a pillar and asked the real estate agent: "Is this the bedroom?"

When he replied that it was, she asked: "But how do you get a bed into the room?"

Mrs Collins said even if a double bed could be squeezed in, the pillar would leave no room to walk around.

"The room wasn't functional as a double room. It was just horrible. Then we go in the other bedroom and there's another giant pillar."

She said a double bed could be squeezed in but would never fit under the windows as intended.

Mrs Collins said plans provided after the contract was signed last year showed no sign of the pillars.

An electronic version of the plans, which she said she had not seen until last month, showed "wavy lines" in the bedroom which she was told were meant to indicate pillars.

She and her husband cancelled the contract to buy the apartments, putting the $57,000 deposit in limbo as a dispute developed with developer Tasman Cook.

Tasman Cook director Leonard Ross said the business wanted to resolve the dispute.

"We're surprised to hear that Mr and Mrs Collins were unaware of some elements of the apartment's structural design as all aspects of this were clearly disclosed at the outset in the plans and specifications attached to the sale and purchase agreement."

He said the development provided "high-quality apartments at affordable pricing in Auckland's competitive housing market" and strong demand was reflected in price rises since sales started.

NZ Property Investors' Federation president Terry le Grove warning those buying off plans to seek expert advice before signing.

"You visualise something different when you read a line on a specification sheet."

Property decisions which ended in legal disputes left a lasting impact, he said.

- NZ Herald

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