The possibility a blocklayer may have undermined the structural integrity of Bella Vista homes was raised during a trial in the Tauranga District Court, yesterday.
Bella Vista Homes Limited, The Engineer Limited, their respective directors Danny Cancian and Bruce Cameron, and bricklayer Darrel Joseph are defending a raft of charges in a judge-alone trial following the evacuation of in The Lakes property development in March 2018.
Cameron's defence counsel Noel King, questioned senior civil and structural engineer Colin Jacobson in Tauranga District Court yesterday afternoon. Jacobson was among experts brought in by the council to test affected homes to establish what, if any, issues there were with the buildings.
Jacobson continued giving evidence in the court case, after first testifying on Friday last week in which he listed non-compliant issues pertaining to the Aneta Way and Lakes Boulevard homes that were evacuated. These included misplaced or missing reinforcing steel, discovered by initial scans led by Jacobson.
King put to Jacobson that it was possible for the reinforcing steel to be moved by a blocklayer placing grout into the walls but this was disputed by Jacobson, who said the steel would only move, at most, a few millimetres.
King continued on the course of questioning, prompting a warning from Judge Paul Mabey QC who told King his suggestion of "deliberate sabotage" on part of the blocklayer was no more than speculation.
King then referred to a wall at one of the Lakes Boulevard, which was originally going to be a retaining wall. The wall was one identified by Jacobson on Friday as being of concern by not meeting the measurements expected.
"The point is my client is facing a situation where the building work must have been done in accordance with the plans. Is the reinforcing done in respect of the plans?" King said.
Jacobson: "If I was on-site and saw a wall needing retaining, at least I would think the reinforcing should be central, if that couldn't be done... I would contact the designer and say there's a situation here where the retaining wall is no longer retaining... it would be a prudent approach."
King replied: "Being a lawyer, and appreciating the law and wording, is it built in accordance to the plan?
Jacobson said: "Strictly in accordance with the law, yes, it has been."
Joseph's defence counsel Tony Balme began his cross-examination by asking Jacobson:
"Would the steel get in the way of an application nozzle at all?"
Jacobson told the court: "Yes, a bit, but not enough to dislodge it. Someone would spot that straight away."
Jacobson will continue giving evidence today.The trial continues.