18 Apr 2018

Bella Vista development: All 21 homes 'cannot be reoccupied'

10:22 am on 18 April 2018

Tauranga City Council has announced all of the properties in the former Bella Vista Homes development - a small part of The Lakes neighbourhood - have been deemed 'dangerous and affected', or 'affected', and cannot be reoccupied.

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Photo: RNZ / Sophia Duckor-Jones

SunLive reported that council representatives met with homeowners and residents of the Bella Vista Homes development, and presented findings from the council's comprehensive assessment of the subdivision.

Based on the findings of geotechnical, structural, and compliance experts, the council deemed that all of the 21 properties are 'dangerous and affected', or 'affected' under the Building Act 2004.

The council has been undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the 21 properties in the former Bella Vista Homes development since early February.

The assessment was launched following liquidation of that company on 30 November last year. It was initially focused on finding out what needed to be done to make the homes compliant with the building code. However, experts found issues throughout the process.

In early March, 13 families were evacuated from their homes ahead of the expected Cyclone Hola.

Council chief executive Garry Poole said this was an extraordinary situation where a developer went into liquidation, leaving homes and properties in varying stages of completion.

Some owners took possession of their properties before Building Code compliance certificates were issued, and have been living in the incomplete homes.

Four properties in the development have received Code Compliance Certificates.

"We are not aware of any previous occasion where 21 dangerous and affected building notices have been issued," Mr Poole said.

"This development has significant failings, and we have to act cautiously with the safety of these families in mind."

Mr Poole said a thorough investigation was to be carried out on the Bella Vista Homes development by an external expert. Details about the investigation will be provided shortly, and the investigator will be asked to proceed as quickly as possible, consistent with carrying out a full and proper investigation.

Mr Poole told owners work was continuing on four options, and these will be reported to the council.

"Our job doesn't finish here, our focus remains on finding a satisfactory outcome for these owners and that's what we will be doing now."

Elected members will make a final decision on the council's preferred option in a formal meeting on 6 June.

Options being explored by the council

  • Remediation with a charge: the council works with each owner to discuss how their property can be remediated; and if necessary assist them financially to achieve code compliance with a charge on the property that is realised upon resale.
  • Regulatory function only: the council completes its expert assessments, issues appropriate notices and provides no further assistance.
  • Buy/Demolish/Sell: The council purchases the properties, demolishes them and on-sells to a developer as bare land.
  • Remediation at the council's cost: the council works with each owner to discuss how the property can be remediated and remediate at the council's cost.

At last night's meeting, the council provided an overview of the expert geotechnical, structural, and building compliance reports.

The geotechnical advice from AECOM, and peer reviewed by ICE Geo & Civil, was that eight buildings were dangerous mainly due to unretained slopes (of up to six metres) at the rear of the Lakes Boulevard properties.

The advice said that in heavy or prolonged rainfall it was likely that instability would occur, and could result in the slopes failing.

Structural advice from BCD Group determined that 10 buildings were dangerous due to seven key defects. That included issues with roof bracing, lintel fixing, bottom plate fixing, steel beam fixing, floor joist fixing and blockwall reinforcing.

BCD carried out invasive testing on 15 buildings. Some buildings have not been tested, as owners did not provide consent for this to happen, or testing has not yet occurred.

The council will now meet with owners individually.

Building compliance expert Rose McLaughlan has catalogued issues across all of the properties and come to the conclusion that none of the buildings are code compliant.

This is despite some having had Code Compliant Certificates issued.

Ms McLaughlan said remediating many of the defects could be difficult, unfeasible, or not cost-effective because of the nature of the soil and problems associated with uncontrolled fill and subsurface erosion.

She believed remediating the land and repairing some foundations and slabs might be virtually impossible.

- SunLive

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