The owners of an Auckland property say they just want to get their home "fixed" before they sort out a consent for extensive building and excavation work.

Neighbours of the Third Ave, Kingsland, property say they saw soil being removed and contractors arriving before diggers turned up and began excavating underneath the house.

Neighbours Paula Lockett and Brian Malone said when contractors started removing a lot of soil and putting in a concrete pad - they started to get concerned.

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"The real concerns kicked in when they started doing the excavation - because literally at one point they had two diggers under the house."

They were told by the owners that they were doing a "small renovation" - but soon after realised the enormity of what was happening.

The owners, who did not want to be named, told the Herald they had decided to renovate the basement, but didn't realise work was "going to be that huge".

"We were just going to tidy it up," they said.

WorkSafe and Auckland Council are now investigating. A prohibition notice on any further work had also been issued.

The property owners said they were in the middle of fixing the site and a dangerous building report would be completed in the next few days.

"We just want to get it fixed, then we will seek consent and make sure we go through the right process," the owners said.

They said they had not been approached directly by neighbours about concerns.

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Lockett said she was frustrated by the council's response after first contacting them on August 27, and then again on August 29 after not hearing anything.

"I rang the council because when they were removing the soil, the digging was making our house shake and rattling our windows. It was like booming noises," she said.

When the council failed to respond, John Holley, who lives nearby, contacted WorkSafe.

The owners of this Kingsland property said the renovation work was going to be
The owners of this Kingsland property said the renovation work was going to be "small". Then the diggers, and authorities, arrived. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"I saw contractors come in, start knocking things over, concreting, putting in a new driveway and doing water works."

Images of the property show work to the lower level of a two-storey house. Three props held up the upper level, while earthworks had begun on a new foundation.

Holley said he got the impression "I needed to have actually said someone is about to die before they would send someone out", so he logged the job with WorkSafe and by 2pm it was there and putting the prohibition notice on the site, "as it was obvious how dangerous it was".

Lockett said she now feared for the safety of her own property, because they were the closest neighbour and the house was above them.

Auckland Council manager of regulatory compliance Steve Pearce said it had also received two complaints.

"We inspected the site on Monday and Tuesday [last week] and found building work under way without building and resource consent. We sought advice from structural engineers, who inspected the site and advised that it wasn't safe," he said.

"As a result, we have issued a dangerous building notice requiring the site be fenced off and to undertake work to make the building safe."

Pearce said this work had already commenced and was under regular engineering supervision.

"While the immediate danger has passed and is being dealt with, we continue to have an open investigation into the illegal building work.

"The council has a graduated enforcement approach, this means we work with people to fix problems in the first instance but will also escalate to significant formal enforcement action if the effects of non-compliance are serious or the offender has continued to ignore the requirements."

Pearce said when neighbouring properties to a dangerous building are deemed affected, they have the option to issue notices to the owners of the affected buildings.

"However, in this instance we do not believe this is necessary based on the level of risk and the advice from the engineers working on the site," he said.

"We have had several conversations with the neighbour concerned, including visiting the address directly after the dangerous building notice was issued and will continue to keep them informed."

A WorkSafe spokesperson said it was notified of renovation work being carried out at the property earlier this month.

"After visiting the site, WorkSafe issued a Prohibition Notice which prohibited excavation work taking place at the site until the structural integrity of the building was secured. The notice remains in place.

"WorkSafe is working closely with Auckland Council and engineers to ensure the building is stabilised and the property is safe."

Engineers from both Geotech and Fraser Thomas Ltd were working at the site yesterday.