Construction of a big planned new Auckland apartment project was meant to start last year, sparking buyer concerns but the developer says the builder is now on-site and work will begin next month.

A buyer of Fabric, the 240-unit scheme planned for Onehunga, said he paid a deposit based on advice he was given last year that construction would start in the middle of 2017.

Other buyers have also complained about delays and raised concerns after a design change was announced recently.

Read more: Glass atrium axed

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"We as purchasers signed up in January 2017 on the understanding that the project would be underway in the middle of that year as advised in the Fabric FAQ sheet. Test bores which I presume were done so detailed design of the foundations could be completed were not drilled till October that year, Hence that initial start date was never achievable," the buyer said.

"Since then, we have had many start dates given, all of which have been and long gone.
The only date they have ever given is demolition would start at the end of May and it did," the buyer said.

But Tim Lamont of developers Lamont & Co said today: "Kalmar Construction has established on-site and demolition commenced in late May. Construction commencement was originally anticipated to commence early 2018."

However, the Herald published an advertorial last year which confirmed what the buyer said and also said construction would start in 2017: "Construction is scheduled to start in the last quarter of this year with the first stage of 160 apartments completed two years later," said the article published on April 1, 2017.

Read more: In the heart of Onehunga

When last year's planned construction start date was put to Lamont this morning, he said: "That was the intention back in April, 2017. It has taken longer than we expected but is now underway."

Deposits had been taken on 106 apartments, which makes up fewer than half the total number on offer, he said

People had paid 10 per cent of the full purchase price and that money was being held in a trust account of solicitors Thompson Blackie Biddles, Lamont said.

Asked what was at the site now, Lamont said it was two warehouse/office buildings which adjoin residential housing to the north.

The buildings on Fabric's stage one land are now being demolished so the first 161 apartments can be constructed, Lamont said.

"Finance has been secured to complete the development and pre-sales thresholds have been met to allow the development to proceed," he said.

Interest was being paid on deposits "at standard solicitors' trust account interest rates."

Changes have been made to the original design, with a large central glass atrium going.

Lamont said the first stage would be three buildings "established around a central pocket park and landscaped grounds. A central atrium style accessway has been replaced with a 2.5m wide corridor with full height glazing to the southern façade. No apartment sizes have been reduced. Due to the design change, the development benefits from increased green space with the distance between buildings increased by up to 30 per cent from around 18m to 24m at the widest part. This will lessen any shadowing impact to the buildings," Lamont said.