A woman's dream Hawke's Bay retirement home has been vandalised, days after a dust-up with builders led to them walking off the site.

On Saturday morning, Moyrah Ryan Lewis was told by a neighbour that 20 double-glazed windows in her unfinished Ōtāne property had been smashed by a man.

Rocks were found inside the property. Ryan Lewis said it was a "nasty" attack.

"He's destroyed our Christmas, but he's not only done that, he's destroyed our lives."

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Police said they were investigating a man who had left the Higginson St property on foot about 7.10am on Saturday.

No charges had been laid. One of the builders on the site told Hawke's Bay Today he had no idea who was behind the attack.

A spokesman for one of the building companies used by Ryan Lewis declined to comment.

Moyrah Ryan Lewis standing by one of the windows that was damaged. Photo / Paul Taylor
Moyrah Ryan Lewis standing by one of the windows that was damaged. Photo / Paul Taylor

Seven months ago, Ryan Lewis and her husband took the plunge and relocated to Hawke's Bay for their dream retirement.

They had been living in Tauranga for 18 years before that.

They purchased the Ōtāne section in June and have been renting a place in Havelock North during the course of the build.

But over the coming months things went downhill on site.

Ryan Lewis claims there were two failed inspections, and workers were not doing the correct hours.

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Builders walked off the site on Thursday after disagreements between the couple and them came to a head.

She claims the next day a couple of other builders went to their Havelock North home and said "if we do not pay $1900, we will regret it".

The windows were smashed two days later.

The cat door is the only thing holding up a window at the Otane home. Photo / Paul Taylor.
The cat door is the only thing holding up a window at the Otane home. Photo / Paul Taylor.

Ryan Lewis said they had insurance to cover the cost of the damage, which is estimated to be more than $40,000, but the damage meant the building work would be delayed, putting them over budget.

They also now had to have the house inspected to check for further damage.

"We can't do any internal work or weather boarding or anything now because they have to reorder all of the double glaze," she said.

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"This is our retirement home, but now I don't even know whether we can afford to have it. It's just going to be chaotic."

One of the builders told the Hawke's Bay Today he disputed Ryan Lewis' claims of failed inspections, poor work ethic and threats.

He said he did visit their house on the Friday before the windows were smashed, but it was to have a "conversation".

"They probably think because they didn't pay us nearly $4000 that we would have been angry enough to do it," the builder said.

"Nobody threatened anybody. The only people who even used any foul language was them ... We just went up and asked if we could have the money or if we could have a conversation and then we were told to leave or they would call the police and we left," he said.

He said Ryan Lewis had been paying the builders in "cash" and wouldn't let them book the inspections, instead booking them themselves - before the work was finished.

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"We never had an inspection fail because we hadn't done any work. The owners project-managed the whole job ... it was just a nightmare."

He said they had been working "seven days a week" trying to get everything ready.

Ryan Lewis said she did owe a sum of money to the builders. She said she had been paying in cash, but that was at the behest of one of the building firms.