A developer is suing an Auckland homeowner after a construction permission mistake resulted in his house being constructed directly on the boundaries of his neighbour.
The 1m gap in location between Deepak Lal’s house and where it could have been constructed could cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair.
Lal had hired Pinnacle Homes to design and develop the home in Papakura, which was nearly finished by mid-2020.
Work on the three-bedroom house came to a grinding halt in August however, when the construction company called to tell him about the boundary mix-up.
The neighbouring property is owned by C94 Development and the company is now taking legal action against Lal over the boundary stoush. It wants him to move the house or pay $315,000 in damages.
“It’s a nightmare for me. I wake up in the middle of the night and think ‘how am I going to solve this?’ Lal said.
Pinnacle Homes had hired Hamilton-based company HQ Designs to come up with the plans and file the building consent for the house.
Lal said HQ Designs architectural designer Nitin Kumar filed the building consent and Auckland Council approved it. The council was ultimately responsible, he said.
A letter from Lal’s lawyer Matt Taylor to Pinnacle Homes and HQ Designs in September 2020 said a surveyor had been hired to certify the location of the home, and it was in keeping with the building consent.
“It seems likely that the issue has arisen as a result of an error made at the design stage likely to have occurred when the resource consent information was transferred by the designer to the plans submitted for building consent,” Taylor said.
Pinnacle Homes’ project manager Johnny Bhatti said he realised something was wrong when he checked the documents for Lal’s house and found the error.
“The first person I called was the surveyor. But he had actually marked the house in the right place, according to the building consent,” he said.
“I notified Mr Lal and that’s when everything stopped.”
Bhatti said Pinnacle Homes and the surveyor followed the plans, and the fault for the boundary dispute rested with HQ Designs and the council.
He said he felt for Lal and his family and was willing to help move the house, which he confirmed would cost about $150,000.
“But we need to negotiate who’s going to pay for it,” he said.
“If we move the house someone needs to take responsibility for this and it’s not me, this is between HQ Designs and the council.
“The council checked everything and approved the building consent. But the council didn’t cross-check that it was supposed to be one metre within the boundary.”
New Zealand Institute of Architects said Kumar, of HQ Designs, was not a registered architect and was instead an architectural designer.
Kumar said when he filed the building consent he asked the council to cross-check it against the resource consent for the site.
“I clearly noted it in the building consent and said they needed to read it in conjunction with the resource consent. It’s the council’s responsibility to check it.”
Kumar said his lawyer was talking with both Lal and Pinnacle Homes to try to find a solution as to who was going to pay to move the house.
C94 Development spokesperson Bruce Wang said it was an unfortunate situation.
“I think in the end the other parties have to provide a solution because it’s preventing us from selling the property,” he said.
“If it’s not settled the liability will keep accruing month by month.”
Wang said he was not sure or interested in who was liable for the mistake.
“That’s up to the other parties to find out what went wrong. I have no idea what’s going on.”
Lal said he just wanted to find some way out of the whole mess.
“Everyone seems to be blaming someone else.”
He said moving the house would be the cheapest option, but that was money he did not have.
“I’m already paying $1000 a week for the mortgage on this house and the rent for the other place where I’m living.”
Auckland Council was contacted for comment, but did not respond in time.
Local Democracy Reporting