BRISBANE LUXURY APARTMENT DEFECTS FORCE OWNER OUT OF HOME: STILL UNLIVEABLE TWO YEARS LATER

Macro Business Graph reveals how in 2017 the Queensland highrise apartment approvals soared … and so too, it seems, corresponding with a fall in building quality!

HOW often have you heard apartment owners complain like Dr Carter that developers should not be allowed voting rights on the body corporate in the first year whereby they can block other home owners gaining rectification of defective work?

IT’s time, isn’t it, that both national and state authorities dealt with the perpetrators through legislation … they have had it all their way, it would seem, for too long now … and this crisis cannot be allowed to continue … otherwise how many more home owners will be suing governments?

From ‘Macro Business’ …

Brisbane luxury apartment defects force owner out of home still unliveable two years later

Exclusive by Josh Bavas

29 JULY 2019

VIDEO: First came the water, then came the mould (ABC News)

RELATED STORY: Called on to fix the Australian dream turned ‘nightmare’, building ministers gather

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A Brisbane unit owner is facing bankruptcy after a serious defect in her new $1.7 million luxury apartment caused thousands of dollars worth of damage, forcing her family to move out.

Key points:

  • Owner Louisa Carter says apart from the roof, her apartment is still awaiting a refit after being partially gutted because of the water damage
  • The QBCC ordered construction company Maxcon to fix the leak and later closed the case file after some works were carried out
  • She is now pursuing Maxcon Construction in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for compensation, which could be referred to a higher court

It is one of the latest cases to emerge on a growing list of faulty apartments as national and state authorities grapple with how to manage the issue.

Louisa Carter purchased a new four-bedroom sub-penthouse in The Johnson apartment tower in inner-city Brisbane in 2017.

The former Department of Transport building in Spring Hill was transformed into an art series hotel and residential complex by developer and Melbourne-based Asian Pacific Group, now known as the Deague Group.

But Dr Carter said her roof began leaking just days after she and her family moved into the apartment.

“In the first big storm, suddenly there was water pouring into the main bedroom,” she said.

Her apartment was later overtaken by mould.

Unit owner Louisa Carter stands near a window with city views in her unfinished Spring Hill apartment.

PHOTO: Dr Carter has also raised the matter with Housing Minister Mick de Brenni. (ABC News: Josh Bavas)

Despite lodging a series of complaints, more than two years later the defects are yet to be fully rectified.

She said her apartment was still awaiting a refit after being partially gutted because of the water damage.

“This is a state-heritage listed property — it’s meant to be kept for future generations,” she said.

“We’ve got a colander for a roof pouring [water] down through the concrete.”

‘We’re caught in a stalemate’

Dr Carter said she first raised issues with the developer and her body corporate, and also complained to Queensland’s Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).

The QBCC ordered construction company Maxcon to fix the leak and later closed the case file after some works were carried out.

Serious-looking Spring Hill unit owner Louisa Carter stands against the kitchen island bench in her property.

PHOTO: Just days after moving into the new apartment with her family, Dr Carter said her roof began leaking. (ABC News: Josh Bavas)

But the body corporate’s insurance company recently found there were still building defect issues with the property, and while it was willing to pay thousands of dollars to refurbish the unit, it would not authorise work until the issues were resolved.

After complaining to the Office of Fair Trading that her unit was not fit for purpose, Dr Carter was told the matter was classified as a “warranty” issue, suggesting she could take civil action in court.

She said she had been left thousands of dollars out of pocket after renting another property.

“We’re in limbo,” she said.

“We’re caught in a stalemate between parties — I feel like collateral damage in a financial equation and it’s just not good enough — it’s my home.”

Dr Carter is now set to pursue Maxcon Construction for compensation via a referral from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to the Supreme Court.

She is also raising the matter with Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni.

Water damage has been reported in at least one other apartment on the same level.

A room with a city view of unit owner Louisa Carter's unfinished Spring Hill apartment in inner-city Brisbane

PHOTO: Dr Carter says she has been left thousands of dollars out of pocket after renting another property. (ABC News: Josh Bavas)

Last week, state and territory ministers held emergency talks in response to a wave of similar problems across the country, including defective buildings and flammable cladding.

*Dr Carter said developers should not be allowed voting rights on the body corporate in the first year to give new owners greater power.

“That’s just ludicrous — that’s the year you’re finding out what’s wrong with the building,” she said.

“My issue is, as an individual unit owner, I don’t have any control over the common lot — the roof — so I’m caught.”

When approached by ABC News, a lawyer acting for Maxcon Constructions said the company “complied with all of its legal obligations in this matter, including rectifying the water leak” and suggested third parties might have caused or contributed to the problem.

Unit owner Louisa Carter stands in her bedroom in her unfinished Spring Hill apartment.

PHOTO: Dr Carter said developers should not be allowed voting rights on the body corporate in the first year. (ABC News: Josh Bavas)

A lawyer for the Deague Group said it was “not appropriate to comment” because of the proceedings lodged with QCAT, but denied Dr Carter’s claims and said Deague stood by its products and accepted its responsibilities.

Mr de Brenni declined to comment.

A spokesman for the QBCC said a “guttering issue” was rectified by the builder, but any further concerns would need to be lodged by the body corporate.

“The QBCC understands that Dr Carter has further concerns about the roof of this building,” the spokesman said.

“Due to the ownership structure of the building, and because the roof is considered common property, the QBCC would need to receive a complaint from the body corporate in order for the commission to legally carry out an inspection and investigation into the roof of the building.

“At this stage the QBCC has not received a complaint from the body corporate but will continue to provide advice to Dr Carter on the options available to her.”

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-29/queensland-building-defects-unit-owner-faces-bankruptcy/11335478

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