Metricon ordered to pay home owner almost $300,000 for faulty build

Metricon ordered to pay home owner almost $300,000 for faulty build
Metricon ordered to pay home owner almost $300,000 for faulty build

A Tarneit home owner was awarded $289,589 after a faulty slab left his home cheaper to replace than to fix.

In a decision handed down by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), Australia’s self-proclaimed “largest new home builders” Metricon were found to have knowingly proceeded with the construction of Graham Hooper’s house despite receiving complaints that the home’s slab was built on poorly compacted soil. Metricon was ordered to pay for the demolition and reconstruction of the house and the loss of rental income, totalling $289,589.65. 

In 2006, as the home was being constructed, Hooper and surveyors found that the slab was built to an incorrect height. Rather than restarting construction, Metricon agreed to deduct $7,500 from the house price and import soil after completion to level the external landscape.

Within two months of moving into the house in October 2007, Hooper noticed cracks which became more severe in the following year, and his front bedroom window became jammed and Hooper was unable to open it. He complained to the builders, who refitted some windows and replastered some walls.

The tribunal heard that after moving interstate for work in 2009, Hooper received complaints from tenants about further cracking and the front door jamming. Metricon adjusted the front door once and Hooper told the tribunal that he paid for a carpenter to repair the home several times. Meanwhile the problems continued to increase, with windows jamming shut and more cracks appearing.

At one point, after several complaints from Hooper, Metricon inspected the house’s drainage system for plumbing leaks but none were found. Metricon then wrote to Hooper, telling him that the problems were due to “edge heave”, which it claimed was not its fault, but due to Hooper’s own landscaping and to “excessive garden watering.”

In 2011, Hooper decided to bring in an independent building and engineering expert, who concluded that the slab had skewed, the soil underneath was improperly compacted and the house would continue to move. The expert also concluded that it would be cheaper to demolish the house and rebuild it rather than repair it.

According to tribunal senior member R. Walker, Metricon was aware from 2006 that the soil was highly reactive and that it was imperative that the house was built as per the engineer’s plans. Not only was the foundational slab built incorrectly, but Metricon carried on with construction rather than addressing the initial problem, resulting in, as Walker put it, “a problem of its own making”.

Claims against the house’s engineer were dismissed in VCAT, as although the tribunal found that the engineer had at points breached its duty of care to Hooper, those breaches hadn’t resulted in any actual damage. 

 

Tags: 
Victoria Metricon VCAT

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