Albany leaky building victims lost a claim against national construction business Signature Homes and a builder who once traded under that prominent branding.

The Kelly Family Trust's Robin John Leary Kelly, Patricia Ann Kelly and Linda Glasswell sued Lasque Construction (formerly trading as Signature Homes), Signature Residential (trading as Signature Homes), Signature Homes (trading as Signature Homes) and Lasque managing director Stewart Craig Wilson for problems with lot 61, English Oaks Dr, The Oaks, Albany on Auckland's northern outskirts.

The house was finished in 2002 but leaked and requires a complete reclad.

Signature Homes boss Gavin Hunt. Photo / Duncan Brown
Signature Homes boss Gavin Hunt. Photo / Duncan Brown

It is now more than 10 years since completion, so the trust was unable to claim against the builder or others with responsibility for the leaks who undertook inspections, for breach of the original building contract or for negligence at the time of construction.

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A High Court decision from Justice Mark Woolford rejected their claim but with a rider.

"I do, however, have considerable sympathy for the plaintiffs who are victims of the on-going leaking building disaster which has bedevilled the New Zealand building industry in recent years.

"The plaintiffs were forced to formulate their claim in the way they have because of the expiry of the ten year limitation period on what would have been a relatively straightforward claim against Lasque for breach of the original building contract.

"I therefore urge the parties to try and reach some accommodation, even at this stage, after the dismissal of the plaintiffs' claim. I do so because at the time the ten-year limitation period expired and the plaintiffs lost their right to sue on the original contract, the parties were engaged in genuine, good faith negotiations," the decision said.

The decision also mentioned prominent Signature boss Gavin Hunt who fronts a national advertising campaigns.

(Click image to read the full judgment.)

Robin Kelly had complained directly to Hunt who the judge said is executive director of the franchisor and who was also a director of Lasque.

In 2010, Dr Kelly only discovered "quite by chance" that no code compliance certificated had been issued for the house so he contacted North Shore City Council which told him it was not satisfied that the installed cladding systems and other elements complied with the Building Code.

An invasive inspection revealed serious weathertightness issues with the house.

The decision said: "Dr Kelly says that at the meeting, Mr Hunt accepted responsibility for not obtaining a Code Compliance Certificate for their house, but wrongly expressed the view that the building defects were confined to one isolated area of one wall. Dr Kelly says that Mr Hunt advised them that the only reason Council was demanding a reclad was that the laws had changed. According to Dr Kelly, Mr Hunt accused them of manipulating the system for personal gain and stated that this was the reason his company was not going to pay for the reclad necessary to obtain a Code Compliance Certificate.

"On the other hand, Mr Hunt says that the position he took at the meeting was pretty direct. There was no question that Lasque had failed to get the Code Compliance Certificate back in 2002, but what had to be addressed was the current situation, which was a house with only limited defects, which the Council now said had to be fully reclad in accordance with new requirements introduced since the plaintiffs' house had been built. Mr Hunt said he made it clear to Dr Kelly that if the whole house was reclad, the plaintiffs would have to meet the lion's share of that cost and that Lasque remained committed to recladding the whole of the rear wall, but that was all."