A contractor has given evidence in court that there were multiple issues with properties in the Bella Vista Homes development and when he confronted director Danny Cancian about not being paid, he was offered a $137,000 discount deal on a section.
Bella Vista Homes Limited, The Engineer Limited, their respective directors Cancian and Bruce Cameron, and bricklayer Darrel Joseph are defending a raft of charges in a judge-alone trial following the evacuation of 21 houses in various stages of completion in The Lakes in March 2018.
The charges were brought by the Tauranga City Council and relate to the defendants allegedly carrying out building works which were not in accordance with the Building Act, in particular a building consent.
After questioning from prosecution counsel Richard Marchant in the Tauranga District Court today , foundations contractor Robert Gibson said there had been a number of issues with the properties he was working on.
"What we encountered was generally where the floor was sited, it wasn't cut out far enough. There were a couple of times we had to get the [earth] works guys back to scrape it out further a few times. We've had levels ... not being level to put in the floor."
He described the work environment as "unorganised" and "under pressure".
"We were quite pushed to get jobs done. The dates were changing a lot as well."
Gibson worked for about a year, accruing outstanding invoices in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He told the court that when he spoke with Cancian about his missing payment, Cancian offered him the $137,000 discount.
"I was quite keen to go ahead with it as a way to get some money back but I went to look at the site and that was it."
Bella Vista Homes went into liquidation in November 2017.
The court heard that Cancian, in a previous interview, blamed Gibson for laying floor slabs that were not level.
Gibson told the court: "We didn't have any input in setting up the site levels."
"We didn't have the equipment. We had to work off what was already established [on the worksite]. It was my understanding that Bella Vista was responsible for siting the levels ... Danny was dealing with that," Gibson said.
Cameron's defence counsel, Noel King , questioned whether Gibson added an extension to a piece of footing to a wall at 301 Lakes Boulevard, as the LBP (licensed building practitioner) for that property, but Gibson could not remember.
Judge Paul Mabey asked Gibson if it was possible works such as the extension could have been done by persons unknown after a pre-pour inspection, to which Gibson said it was.
Under re-examination, Marchant referred to documentation outlining a breakdown of jobs met or completed for the Bella Vista properties, referred to by defence in the evidential photographs.
That documentation was signed off by Cancian, the court heard.
The court heart that Cancian had, in a previous interview, blamed Gibson as the LBP responsible for 297 Lakes Boulevard, which Gibson said he was not.
Following Gibson's evidence, former Bella Vista labourer Wes Scott told the court he, or two apprentices he had been working with at the time, had used inappropriate nails in the box corners of 5 Aneta Way.
Scott said he had used zinc-coated Brad nails at the time, believing it was fine to do so.
As Scott spoke from the dock, he handled physical evidence of a piece of box corner from 5 Aneta Way showing the types of nails used at the time.
Scott told the court that because of the scrutiny surrounding the Bella Vista Homes failure and subsequent court case, he researched what was recommended and found he should have been using galvanised jolts instead.
"I worked for several other companies before Danny and they did it exactly the same way."
Scott said there were many other buildings, residential and commercial, where Brad nails had been used in the same manner.
"I know for a fact they are put together with zinc staples."
Scott told the court he would use those nails again but would opt for stainless steel as opposed to zinc.
Scott said he was owed $55,000 to $60,000 in payment.
The trial continues.