Wait for building consents making families sick

By Abigail Hartevelt

All Western Rd resident Grant Collins and his neighbours want this year is a resolution - a resolution the three families have been waiting a long time for.

The Rotorua District Council issued building consents and code of compliance certificates for three properties in the Oakland Estate subdivision developed by former councillor Geoff Kenny on Ngongotaha's Western Rd.

The properties are owned by Mr Collins and Shirley Vos, John and Eileen Grundy and Katy and Richard Davis.

But just over a year ago, the Department of Building and Housing reversed the consents and compliance certificates. Subsidence had caused damage ranging from uneven floors and loose bricks to doors and windows which would barely close and cracks in foundation walls.

The council announced two months later it was appealing the reversals but a date has still not been set for an appeal hearing.

"The council has done everything in [its] power to stymie progress ...

On December 23 [2011] we got a determination from the department ... that overturned our building consents," Mr Collins said. "Here we are 12 months later and not made any progress at all ... I really have had a gutsful."

He described last year as "hell", particularly as the situation had taken "quite a toll" on his health as well as the health of some of the others. He said he suffered from constant headaches and had recently had a brain scan.

Mr Collins and Ms Vos are engaged and would love to get married.

"We are not going to get married until such time as we get this house thing sorted. Why would we want to get married under this black cloud?"

He was "sick and tired" of the lip service from the council and just wanted some action.

The couple bought the house for $430,000 and it's now worth $100,000. Issues around the valuations are to be addressed at a separate court hearing in March but the families are still waiting for the council's appeal to be heard.

"Tens of thousands of dollars have been wasted when it could have been settled ... We have got things we want to do with our lives but we just can't move on ... These houses are illegal premises. They don't have a building consent or a code of compliance certificate."

Mr Grundy said the past year had been a "nightmare" and he just wants "an end to it all".

"It's with you 24/7. It's bloody annoying, it's soul destroying."

Mrs Grundy has lost 10kg and Mr Grundy spent four days in hospital with a virus.

Mrs Davis said 2012 was stressful. "It's always there. We have just been stuck."

She said people often asked them about what was happening with their home and she felt like hiding as she didn't know how to respond.

All the Davis family want is the compensation they believe they are owed and to be able to move on. "We hope to get some resolution but I'm not holding my breath," Mrs Davis said.

Rotorua District Council chief executive Peter Guerin said Mr Collins' suggestion that the council was stymying progress was not correct.

Mr Guerin said one of the key messages he had been trying to get across each time he dealt with the lawyers was "can we move as quickly as possible".

"We are trying to do the right thing, trying to get the best outcome for the individual property owners and the ratepayers of the Rotorua district," he said.

"I must admit the judicial process is one that moves quickly at times and moves very slowly at times. I don't understand why it's taking so long."

Issues involving the insurers, other property owners in the Oakland Estate subdivision, the developer and consultants also needed to be resolved in the High Court.

Mr Guerin said it was incorrect to say the homes the three families were living in were illegal premises.

"When it [the decision] was appealed, their [the Department of Building and Housing's] determination does not hold."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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