A man who bought a house-and-land package from Bella Vista Homes says he knew something was amiss when he saw homes being built next to walls that had not been retained.

Phillip Smith gave evidence in Tauranga District Court today in the judge-alone trial of five parties charged over the failed development.

Bella Vista Homes Ltd, The Engineer Ltd, their respective directors Danny Cancian and Bruce Cameron, plus bricklayer Darrel Joseph, are defending a raft of charges.

Smith said in a statement read to the court that he and his partner were eventually left with a newly built home that did not have a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC).

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The charges laid by Tauranga City Council related to the defendants allegedly carrying out building works which were not in accordance with the Building Act, in particular a building consent.

The council brought charges against the five defendants after 21 houses in various stages of completion in The Lakes were evacuated in March 2018.

Smith said, through his statement read by prosecution counsel Simon Waalkens, that he had been in the process of buying 309 Lakes Boulevard in 2016.

Smith, who lived in Australia, said he and his partner had been told the building consents would take three to four months to come through but the construction on their home "dragged out until 2017".

"I visited the site in about June 2017, when the floor was down. At the time, I noticed the house next to us [also had its floor down]. I assumed the house had not been built because the cuts behind need to be retained."

The court heard Smith returned in September and found their house, and the one next door, was nearly completed.

Smith said he and his partner were also charged about $13,000 in additional building consent fees, which they had to pay before getting the keys to their property.

"Then we were told the front of the house needed retaining and we needed to pay for it."

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The couple was eventually told there were issues with cladding and a handrail and "we could not get the keys until we made the final payment, which we did".

The house was given to Smith without a CCC, which he tried to follow up on with Tauranga City Council when he found out Bella Vista Homes had "gone under".

A CCC is a certificate under the Building Act confirming that the consented works comply with the New Zealand Building Code

The trial restarted on Monday after it was put on hold in March due to Covid-19.

The trial continues.