sinking house


A dispute has arisen between a couple, John and Susan Simpson, the local council, and the building firm responsible for their newly-built home near Fairlie. The home is experiencing structural issues, notably sinking at one end, prompting a disagreement over the $200,000 needed for repairs.

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John and Susan Simpson argue that they shouldn’t bear the cost as they believe the home was incorrectly built due to deviations from the approved plans by McRaeway Homes in Timaru, and inadequate oversight by the Mackenzie District Council.

According to John, McRaeway Homes failed to adhere to the specified building consent requirements, and the council overlooked these discrepancies during inspections.

However, both the building firm and the council deny responsibility, citing clauses in the signed contract that place the burden on the homeowner for site preparation and compliance with approved plans.

Allegations arise that John requested a change in the building’s location during an on-site meeting, a claim he refutes, emphasizing the significant expense and effort already invested in obtaining the necessary consents.

The construction site, situated near the Opuha Dam, was subject to stringent conditions due to its scenic location, which complicated the building process. Despite following the plans meticulously, the house ended up on unstable ground, leading to subsequent issues such as leaking gutters and misaligned windows.

A geotechnical investigation revealed the instability of the ground beneath the northern end of the property, which was built on soft fill rather than stable ground. The deviation from the original site exacerbated the problem, necessitating a stronger foundation.

Attempts at resolution have been unsuccessful, with communication breakdowns exacerbating the situation. Despite efforts from Fair Go to mediate, offers from McRaeway and the council fell short of covering the full repair costs, leading John to refuse.

With no agreement in sight and concerns over further deterioration of the property, John is considering legal action to resolve the impasse. The council remains optimistic about reaching a resolution but refrains from public comment on ongoing negotiations.