A high-rise Auckland apartment block which is home to many university academics is suffering from building defects which will cost a minimum estimated $25 million to fix.
Owners of the 14-level Connaught apartments in the block at 14 Waterloo Quadrant near the High Court describe how the costs are mounting, with one saying repair costs had doubled lately.
"The body corporate ... is currently recommending a comprehensive redevelopment of the
property to address maintenance issues — a rebuild that has already doubled in estimated costs in just two years, to more than $25m, with no apparent end in sight," one owner said.
Costs were likely to rise again, residents were worried about "well-known supply and demand issues in the construction industry" but the work can't start without funds.
"Put a ring around the 12th of never. This is not going to be easy," the apartment owner said in a letter to other owners.
The Connaught, built in the late 1990s, has been popular with many University of Auckland academics because it is so close to the campus.
Susan St John, body corporate chairwoman and also an academic, confirmed to the Herald that extensive works were being planned for the high-rise.
"With the building approaching 25 years old, engineers have recommended a number of repairs and renewal tasks. None of these are considered urgent but are important for the long-term benefit of the building," St John said.
Engineering advice was taken on potential health and safety aspects and all recommendations were being implemented, she said.
"The body corporate is still working through design and timetable options for the project, but hope to start around Q4 2022," St John said.
St John is an associate professor in economics and director of the Retirement Policy and Research centre at the University of Auckland.
The building has an internal swimming pool and gym.
In February, property and building consultants Maynard Marks wrote a report citing health and safety issues stating that "corrosion observed to the steel frames supporting the [glassfibre reinforced concrete] panels is significant in places and mainly to the upper levels of the tower as well as at ground level".
The block was designed by Paul Brown Architects and developed by a business associated with investor and developer Paul Doole.
It was completed around 1998 but another owner said deferred maintenance had resulted in some of the issues which needed resolving.
The block's roof might need to be replaced and "there are also issues with balcony weather tightness. The waterproof membranes installed beneath the tiled balcony surfaces are at the end of their serviceable life.
"The proposed remedy is to adopt a new membrane system, consistent with best practice, that implies that a small up-stand will be required at the door sills, which in turn implies that all of the aluminum joinery in the building will need to be replaced. The recommendation is that the replacement joinery should be double-glazed", one owner said.
Maynard Marks said the long-run iron roof claddings and gutters were considered to be at the end of their life.
The body corporate should consider making design changes to the building to provide additional weathertight protection and cut future maintenance costs.
Destructive testing had already been carried out in some apartments, resulting in internal wall claddings being removed.
Water, mould and damaged fire-rated plasterboard linings had been discovered in service areas off the main corridors, mainly around hot water cylinders.
Evidence of moisture ingress and corrosion to the traydeck composite flooring were found below the vehicle ramps in the basement areas, Maynard Marks said.
Scott Dunn of City Sales said he sold apartment 12d last year with a car park for $425,000. The owner just wanted out of the problems she faced with the high cost of repairs and wanted to be able to sleep.
"The Connaught has quite small studios, decent sized one-bedroom with a car park and two-bedroom units on corners that are quite beautiful," he said.
Sale prices were being discounted heavily because of problems with the building, he said.
The cost of repairs usually rises so people buying feared a doubling or trebling of the possible repair costs, he said.
"There's a limited pool of buyers, restricted to cash buyers. Often banks won't lend on places like those in The Connaught because they fear the repair costs," he said.
"The Connaught has been one of most prestigious apartment buildings and once fixed, it will be again. The benefit for an investor is they might get something for an absolute steal," Dunn said.
The contracts for sale and purchase were much thicker than standard contracts and included all body corporate reports, minutes and information. That allowed potential buyers to do full due diligence, he said.
Buyers were also advised to get independent legal and technical advice before buying, he said.
In other issues around the city, repairs of $100m-plus are under way at Sandringham's St Lukes Gardens. Victopia apartments' repairs ballooned from $23.1m to $35.2m. The Fletcher/Todd joint venture which built Stonefield's six-year-old Altera Apartments is returning to fix issues there.