“An enormous relief,” is how residents of Orewa’s Nautilus describe the long awaited decision on their $30 million plus defective building claim, although Auckland Council may appeal.
Residents and the body corporate of The Nautilus waited six months for the decision of Justice Murray Gilbert, which was handed down last week.
Bringing the case to court against the former Rodney District Council (now Auckland Council), Brookfield Multiplex Construction and Walker Architects has been ongoing since structural issues were first identified, shortly after the building opened in 2004 and has caused a lot of stress for those who own apartments.
With the defendant companies in liquidation, it left only their insurers and Council to face the music.
The total awarded of more than $25 million is the largest payout for a leaky home claim in NZ but still falls short of the more than $30 million claimed by the plaintiffs.
Body corporate chair and Nautilus apartment owner Trevor Corin says residents are more than happy with the decision, which he says should cover the extensive repairs needed to the building “on present estimates”.
“Hopefully no residents will have to pay anything towards the building work,” he says.
He says that the sum claimed for consequential losses – the costs that residents will be faced with as a result of repairs, such as the need to find temporary accommodation – as well as personal grievance claims, are still being worked out. Costs of around $1 million are also yet to be decided.
The plaintiffs claimed that the buildings many structural issues, affecting the cladding, podium, decks, skylights, and The Plant Room, stemmed largely from incompetence on the part of Rodney District Council, which issued building consents and code of compliance certificates for the Nautilus. The judge agreed, placing the lion’s share of the costs on Council, including all the costs associated with the cladding defects.
Prendos’ plan to fix the building was presented in court and it will take around six months to get building consent for that work to begin.
Mr Corin says the plan is to divide the building into four sections, or perhaps work from the top down, floor by floor.
He says once reclad in aluminium, with an air gap behind, the building will essentially look the same.
Mr Corin says he bought his Nautilus apartment so that he could retire to Orewa and currently stays there during regular visits.
“We can’t wait to retire there once the building is fixed,” he says.
However, with Council still deciding whether to appeal the judgment, this may not be the end of the road.
A Council spokesperson says that its legal team has reservations about aspects of the judgment and is taking time to consider whether an appeal is appropriate.
“As the court did not find the council liable in respect of all of the allegations made and also deducted sums from the amounts claimed for the cost of repairs and made findings of contributory negligence, it is too early to say with certainty what the final judgment sum will be. The solicitors for the owners and the council have agreed that they will work towards identifying that sum as soon as possible.”