An 18-tonne digger rolling metres away from a Judea house is being blamed for cracks found wall-to-ceiling in the home, the owner claims. Glen Johnson, the owner of the home, says he has been frustrated by the council's response to his complaints over the construction of six townhouses next to his home.
In his view, the council "treated me like an idiot through all of this".
"I'm just absolutely gobsmacked at how little rights you have as a ratepayer."
Tauranga City Council said it did not need to alert Johnson to the planned construction because the effects were not expected to be significant under the Resource Management Act.
The council said a report conducted on July 29 found no evidence that could connect vibration to the "alleged damage" to Johnson's home.
Its advice to Johnson now is to consult his insurer. However, Johnson said the insurance company's response was simple.
"They don't cover vibration damage.
"They've [council] just hung us out to dry."
Construction of six townhouses next to Johnson's property started in November, he said, when an "18-tonne digger" began clearing the site of vegetation.
Johnson said he first contacted the council on November 10 with his concerns about the vibrations caused by the digger but claims he was told it had nothing to do with the council.
He said the final straw came when a noisy pump on the worksite was placed near his daughter's bedroom window on multiple occasions during the night and he complained to the council again.
"It is what people consider to be the biggest investment we'll ever own," he said of his concerns for his property.
"Now my daughter's bedroom's got cracks in the ceilings, cracks in the wall. My newly furbished upstairs bathroom, which I've only just finished, has now got a crack in the wall."
Tauranga City Council visited his property in February. In a letter to Johnson, the council noted several cracks in his driveway. However, the council said the cracks appeared to be historic and concluded it was uncertain when or how these cracks occurred.
The council told the Bay of Plenty Times it was not aware of cracks inside the home in February.
Mitigations were agreed with the developer, including using a lighter digger and keeping a 6m distance from Johnson's property.
But earlier this month, the larger digger was back, Johnson said.
"I would expect my council to look after me, so why wouldn't they turn up first and advise us that there's going to be six townhouses built right next to us."
Johnson said if he had been advised he would have prepared a dilapidation report.
Council said dilapidation reports of their own developments were not done as a "default position".
When asked why neighbouring properties were not consulted about the proposed construction, Tauranga City Council environmental planning acting team leader Stacey Hikairo said the majority of resource consents were progressed on a non-notified basis.
"[This is] because the effects are not expected to be significant, the Resource Management Act does not require the effects to be 'nil' to be non-notified.
"Where a development meets the policies of a zone and the expected effects are sufficiently mitigated, it is unlikely that the application will be notified."
Hikairo said in this case, the planning assessment included consideration of residential character and amenity, natural hazard risk, the adjoining coastal environment, cultural values and earthworks.
"In terms of the earthworks, the City Plan required specific consideration of erosion and sedimentation effects, a geotechnically stable site, and character and amenity effects on the adjoining ecological and conservation zone."
The act's definition of noise included vibration, Hikairo said, and it was not expected to be so significant that it would require "specific mitigation" for a "small" proposal such as the one on Churchill Rd.
"It is very rare that a vibration issue arises and is usually associated with large scale developments.
"The applicant confirmed that they would meet the construction noise standards of the City Plan however this standard does not include a vibration limit."
Subsequent to the inspection in February, council and a vibration monitoring contractor visited the site at the end of July. Aware of the cracks, but there to assess the noise and vibration, council said they did not go inside the home to witness the cracks.
No evidence which would enable enforcement action, or attribute vibration to the "alleged damage" came from the testing, Hikairo said.
The developer declined to comment.