Agent’s leaky dream home

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - TOM HUNT

An es­tate agent who sold her own leaky build­ing as a wow­fac­tor dream home has been slapped with hefty fines.

Up­per Hutt ratepay­ers are also in for a $72,000 bill af­ter its coun­cil signed off on the leaky Clous­ton Park home - though it is un­der­stood every party to the Weather­tight Homes Tri­bunal de­ter­mi­na­tion is now set to ap­peal.

All up, the buy­ers of the leaky home will be awarded al­most half a mil­lion dol­lars af­ter a trail of de­ceit and shoddy work left them with a home where the only wow fac­tor is how damp it is.

Speak­ing on Thurs­day, Pho­rina Tsai and Fer­gus Mao de­scribed the three-year ‘‘night­mare’’ which started in 2014 when they found a 20 cent coin­sized water stain on the ceil­ing of what had been a dream home.

By 2015 it was con­firmed as a leaky build­ing and by the time of the Weather­tight Homes Tri­bunal fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion - which awarded them $479,555 - they had spent $180,000 on le­gal and ex­pert fees.

They and their chil­dren suf­fered health and stress prob­lems and their nest egg was gone. They were clos­ing down their Up­per Hutt com­puter busi­ness be­cause of the stress and they could no longer pay uni­ver­sity fees for their two teenage daugh­ters.

They es­ti­mated re­pairs would be around $810,000. They plan to ap­peal the case be­cause the awarded costs were not enough. But those found at fault are also ap­peal­ing.

The es­tate agent, Robyn Bond, on Thurs­day said she got her own re­port done on the house which she gave to every wouldbe pur­chaser who came through. The buy­ers were told to get their own re­port and do due dili­gence, which they did be­fore buy­ing.

Both these re­ports found mi­nor, if any, prob­lems with the house.

The only rea­son she sold her house of two years was be­cause her re­la­tion­ship ended. She could not af­ford to ap­peal but un­der­stood there would be a cross-ap­peal on be­half of her and the real es­tate agency.

The tri­bunal found the builder, coun­cil, sell­ers and agents all li­able af­ter Tsai and Mao bought the Clous­ton Park house in 2009.

The ‘‘dream home’’ with ‘‘wow fac­tors’’ had been mar­keted as an ‘‘amaz­ing ex­ec­u­tive res­i­dence in every piece’’ with ‘‘ex­cel­lent’’ in­te­rior and ex­te­rior con­di­tion.

The tri­bunal also said Bond was aware a pre­vi­ous buyer had pulled out af­ter a re­port from Real­sure Limited in­di­cated a high level of weath­er­tight­ness is­sues and that it was a leaky home with high mois­ture through­out the cladding.

Up­per Hutt City Coun­cil was found to be neg­li­gent for not de­tect­ing faults dur­ing in­spec- tion. Those faults even­tu­ally meant the house had to be re­clad and re-roofed.

The neg­li­gence will sting Up­per Hutt ratepay­ers to the tune of $71,932.

A state­ment from coun­cil said it would ap­peal the find­ing.

The orig­i­nal builder was or­dered to pay $167,842 but it was Bond - the agent and ven­dor - who got stung twice.

With Sa­fari Real Es­tate she was or­dered to pay $167,842 and both were de­scribed as be­hav­ing in a mis­lead­ing and de­cep­tive way.

Along with Phillip Gorrie, who she owned the house with, she was or­dered to pay $71,932.

CAMERON BUR­NELL/STUFF

The Clous­ton Park, Up­per Hutt house at the cen­tre of the dis­pute.

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