A $50 million-plus housing project in Auckland has been identified by a property investor as the site of shoddy building the Master Builders Association says flouts the law.
A woman investor told the Herald she immediately recognised the Silvermoon Park development in Albany from a council video and had this confirmed yesterday by council building control manager Tim Weight.
She praised the council for helping her and others who were about to purchase properties at Silvermoon Park, a 115-unit development marketed as low-maintenance, high-quality homes in a village setting overlooking native bush in Gills Rd.
"We've got out by the skin of our teeth."
She said she and her husband went into damage control when they saw two council videos posted by the Herald on Tuesday and instructed their solicitor to cancel an agreement to buy at Silvermoon.
The couple were looking for an accounting firm to help them purchase an investment property and were contacted by an investment firm in August that steered them towards a townhouse at Silvermoon.
The woman said she found the sale tactics too "slick" for their liking and on their only visit to the site overheard a builder slating the workmanship. They raised issues with the drainage, the way foundations were sitting and got fobbed off, she said.
Last night, the council refused to confirm that two of its own videos highlighting shoddy building work were taken at Silvermoon Park or identify the developer, George Hunter, of Marmande Property Investments.
"We are, however, proactively working with the developer to remediate non-compliant issues at the site," a council statement said.
Yesterday, Mr Hunter said he had not seen the videos. He said he had "a couple of minor problems" at Silvermoon he was resolving.
"I can do remedial work on it. The people who were involved initially, I got rid of as soon as I heard there had been shoddy work.
"I have had two reputable engineering companies come and provide independent advice and both of them have said the workmanship isn't good, but if I plaster it, it is not structurally going to cause any issues," Mr Hunter said.
The council posted the two videos on Tuesday, but removed them a short time later from the site and YouTube after they were posted by the Herald.
The first video shows a building inspector examining issues with concrete-block work, a lack of reinforcing steel and foundation work, which, he believes, are "right throughout this development".
The second video is a walk-through at a three-storey property. It appears to show the removal of concrete footings to fit drainage pipes, a window where the stairs have gone through it and a shower door over a bath that does not line up.
Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly has seen the video and says it shows really dodgy work that flouts the law.
The work, in his view, does not meet the structural requirements of the building code; he believes the properties are vulnerable in an earthquake.
People have started moving into Silvermoon Park, where prices started at $520,000 off the plans and larger properties are now selling for more than $700,000.
The council has refused to say if any of the properties meet the building code and have formal sign-off, or release its building inspection records for foundation and concrete-block/reinforcing work.
Said one building professional: "I find it very hard to believe that a building company has got the buildings this far and not been pulled up for it."
Builders "must meet Council standards"
Today, on its Our Auckland news website, the council reiterated its position on shoddy building practices and active monitoring of sites to ensure work complied with the Building Act.
Building Compliance Manager Ian McCormick said builders were given an opportunity to remedy poor work, but they must meet the standards of the building code or the council will not approve the work.
"If it doesn't meet the building code, it doesn't get our sign off. We are very clear about this with builders and developers.
"We're called to inspect over 3000 construction sites a week. The majority of these are well run and any issues that we detect are minor and easily addressed. We have some outstanding building practitioners in Auckland, however we are seeing an increasing number of sites that suffer from a lack of effective supervision.
"Given the high level of activity at present, we need to ensure developers and builders understand that there is no room for shortcuts, and that we will be actively monitoring their work. Auckland is in a period of high building activity and so it's more important than ever that we make sure the high standards required by the building code are maintained for the future.
"It is not our intention to identify the sites or developers. But we are making sure that non-compliant work is remediated prior to any Code of Compliance Certificate being issued.
"We're doing this at a range of sites across the region. In all of the cases highlighted in our videos, remedial work is underway and being monitored by our qualified building inspectors.
"That means the developers have a chance to put it right, and we can all have more confidence that high building standards are maintained at a time of high building activity.
"It's important to note that the building code addresses how a building should perform structurally over its lifetime, not the quality of finish. This is not something we are empowered to control. Therefore, as in all purchases of services and products, you need to select your designer and builders carefully."
"Auckland Council has, for some time, been concerned about construction standards, and has embarked on a collaborative programme with key industry organisations to improve quality."
• 115-unit development at Gills Rd, Albany.
• Marketed as a high-quality village overlooking native bush.
• First stage of 44 units nearing completion.
• Issues identified in council video raise alarm bells with investor.
• Investor says council confirms video is of Silvermoon.
• Council refuses to identify site or developer.
• Developer says issues can be remedied.