Residents who have already paid around $200,000 each for repairs to their defective, leaky North Shore apartments are now having to fork out hundreds of dollars a week in rent while the places are fixed - and they anticipate further big bills soon.
Repairs last year estimated to cost $14.5 million began a few weeks ago to the 63-unit defective Bay Palms apartments in Browns Bay on the North Shore.
The units at 30 Bute Rd and 27 Inverness Rd, home to many older residents, have issues ranging from weathertightness to fire safety.
Canam Construction is working on the project, which according to documents sent to the body corporate in May last year has an estimated repair bill of $14,525,955.79.
Around half the complex has been vacated, with one resident saying this morning that the roof was being removed and all cladding stripped off. She had left before work started in June and had been told she would not be able to return till March next year, she said.
"Then they'll start the other half, so you know the way these things go - it might not be till 2020 that people move back in," said the resident, paying hundreds of dollars a week for temporary accommodation.
Read more: Residents reject $14.5m repair bill
An older man who lived at Bay Palms is "scared, and on the other hand he is just trying to move on and not think about it", a relative said this morning.
"The upheaval he has had to deal with is terrible. I hope, when it is done, that he is fit to return."
Another owner said paying rent during the repair phase was punitive.
"Half of us had to leave and find alternative accommodation. They have estimated that our side should be done in March, depending on the damage report, which is not out yet.
"They have decided to replace the entire roof and the balconies and also all the windows, even though very few of them have any leaks. Then there is compliance with the new fire regulations and various other regulations as well."
Some older people had sold units there at a loss, while others had died during the past few years when the full extent of issues became apparent and residents began debating how much they would spend, initially rejecting the $14.5m bill.
The resident said today owners had paid around $200,000 so far but in February next year another bill of around $17,000 is due.
Bronwen McPherson, chairwoman of Bay Palms Body Corporate, last year wrote to residents, telling how fire issues emerged during leak investigations.
"It is just as well that we had a fire survey done as it uncovered the startling and frightening fact that there were no fire collars around the pipes going from floor to floor. These collars help prevent flames, heat and smoke from travelling between floors and are essential for safety purposes," McPherson wrote.
Asked today about the repairs, McPherson said: "We're not engaging in any conversation with you."
Jeanne Heatlie of Rainey Law, acting for the owners, said: "I have no instruction from the body corporate to make any statement."
Tim Rainey had been working with Heatlie on the Bay Palms case but has since left to start his new law firm Fortyeightshortland from level 34 of the Vero Centre, 48 Shortland St.
"It has been a long journey but they have mostly been able to pull together as a body corporate group and enter into a contract for the repairs which is supported by the vast majority of owners. There are always some who would like it to be repairs for less cost, but the reality was they got the best-tendered price for a repair that they could," Rainey said this month.
The Government has already contributed $2.9m to the repairs, from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment via the Financial Assistance Package.
Loukas Petrou, Canam managing director, confirmed his business had been engaged to carry out the work but said it was up to the body corporate to discuss issues with the media.