For about a year now the 21 evacuated Bella Vista houses at The Lakes in Tauranga have sat behind fences, watched over by security guards and cameras.
Today, members of the media were invited behind those fences and into some of the houses for the first time since the March 9 evacuation last year.
It was a carefully-managed photo opportunity by the Tauranga City Council, timed to coincide with the start of the removal process.
The tops of all 16 Bella Vista houses on Lakes Boulevard have been earmarked for removal by the council and tomorrow morning the first section of one of those houses will leave the site on the back of a truck. Others will soon follow.
The bottom levels of many of the houses have already been stripped, leaving not much more than wooden frames and building wrap to look at, while the top levels of some appear almost untouched.
There was no official council spokesperson on site for the media to ask questions of today. Instead, questions were directed to the council's media team, or to Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless.
A press release was also put out after the visit.
The council said in the release that the five Bella Vista homes on Aneta Way were proposed to be repaired and sold on their existing sections.
The Bay of Plenty Times asked why those houses were the subject of evacuations and settlements last year, if they were now said to be reparable and could stay in place.
An independent investigation last year found the council wrongly issued code compliance certificates to two of those houses.
The council said in a statement that the Aneta Way homes were located above the Lakes Boulevard houses, and that a steep bank between the two sets of properties posed a safety issue for both sets of properties.
"Without the retaining wall there was a risk the houses would have slid down hill if the unrestrained bank went," the statement said.
"The plan we are exploring is that, once the Lakes Boulevard houses are removed, we can get in to build the wall. Additional remediation of the Aneta Way houses may be needed but the wall is the key issue needing to be resolved."
The council's press release said the contractor in charge of the removal work, Shane Moore Services, was expected to spend up to a week removing the upper portions of each of the homes, with all 16 to be removed by winter.
The contractor intended to recycle as much of the building material recovered from the site as possible, and was going to move the homes to another location and arrange their sale.
The council said the removals would allow the basements on Lakes Boulevard to be demolished and earthworks undertaken to "secure the site and make it safe".
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless, quoted in the press release, said the removal work was part of a council programme to recover the remaining cost to ratepayers.
The council spent $14 million buying all 21 Bella Vista houses, offset by an insurance payment of $10.5 million.
"We've put things right for the homeowners, and our focus now is to ensure the best-possible outcome for ratepayers," Brownless said.
"It's clear that the best way to achieve this is to salvage and sell as much as we can."
The demolition/removal work has sparked controversy from some members of the community, who, among other things, believe it is too hasty with a court case ongoing.
A member of the public even made a complaint to the police in January in relation to the planned work.
The police say they made inquiries following the complaint and no further action was required.
The Bay of Plenty Times asked the council about those concerns.
"It has now been 12 months since the homes were evacuated, and it is important that we act in the interests of ratepayers by recovering costs from these properties," it said in a statement.
The court case brought by the Tauranga City Council against several parties involved in the Bella Vista Homes development is due back in court on May 13.
More than 50 charges have been laid in total, and they are all being contested.
The council said in today's press release that those parties had been provided access to the buildings to prepare their defences.
It also provided a small update on the internal investigation into its building inspection team, headed by retired judge Graeme Colgan.
The investigation began in October last year and the council said although subject to legal restrictions, some aspects of the investigation were expected to be made public when it was completed.