The elderly Sydney couple fell apart when a construction company built a seven-story wall in front of their door
An elderly couple have been left ‘devastated’ after a massive seven-story apartment building was built right next to their historic home – while vandalizing the responsible construction company, claiming the council buried its head in the sand.
Giuseppe and Adelaide Garofano, 84 and 79, emigrated from Italy to Australia after World War II and bought the Hurstville house in south Sydney shortly after.
The house has been let in recent years, with the last tenants forced to leave due to the construction of a three-story block next door. Since then, it has become an eyesore of seven floors.
The Garofanos say Vortex, the construction company involved, has repeatedly changed the original and agreed plan and has regularly entered and damaged their properties as part of construction.
Doriana, the couple’s daughter, said the case had been referred to Fair Trading, but during the hearing they discovered that the location manager worked for the institution for 40 years, which they believe is a conflict of interest.
They say their city council, Georges River, has told them they are not in control of the case and that the couple are “very concerned for their safety.”
“They want to take my country from me,” Adelaide Garofano told Daily Mail Australia.
“My land is not for sale.”
Giuseppe and Adelaide Garofano (pictured) emigrated from Italy to Australia after World War II and bought their home in south Sydney shortly after.
A new apartment block has been built on the doorstep, despite constant design rejections and changes from the Garofanos
Pictured: The Garofanos Federation home in Hurstville before Vortex demolished the house next door and built the apartment building in the center of an ugly dispute
Vortex began building the 73-unit block in 2018, with the Garofanos calling the period since ‘three years of hell’.
They say their recent tenants, who had a newborn baby, left the house after calling the Garofano family “ morning, noon and night troubled by construction. ”
The Garofanos say they initially let the tenants live rent-free due to ongoing construction, before eventually moving into emergency housing.
The view from the front door of the Garofano – right into the wall of the new building block
The Garofanos say Vortex could be responsible for damage to their roof, which has led to recent rainfall, causing it to collapse and make it unsafe to enter
The Garofanos say the unit block, especially with its huge, ugly wall, has completely devalued their property
Council and Vortex officials have regularly proposed changes to the plans and made requests for access and understanding to the Garofanos – all of which have been turned down by the family.
A dispute over roof damage has been going on for years – the family believes the damage was largely due to Vortex scaffolding and a crane platform on their roof, while Vortex says the damage was there before construction began.
The Garofanos say they got $ 1.2 million for the house from Vortex long after construction started – an offer they declined.
Construction on the apartment building began in 2018, a period since the Garofanos have described it as ‘three years of hell’
Chunks of orange glue have seeped through the wall above the front door and hardened
The wall has turned the entrance to the Hurstville house into a dark alley
Adelaide Garofano (pictured) has to walk down a narrow alley along the ugly wall to get to her front door
The Garofanos say zoning plans for the land are low-rise residential areas and buildings should be no more than three stories – the Vortex building is seven.
They also say there should be a three meter gap between the dividing line and a property of this height – the Vortex building is built directly on the dive line instead; right on the doorstep of Garofanos.
Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Georges River Council and the NSW Department for Planning for zoning clarification.
Doriana Garofano says the site is ‘disgusting’ and the conditions are ‘inhumane’.
“We can’t live our lives like this,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
“It’s completely devalued Mommy’s property. It completely ruined us. ‘
The Garofanos say Vortex employees have entered their property on numerous occasions without their consent
Garofanos’ house before the Vortex construction overwhelmed their quaint federation house
The massive wall has cast a shadow over the Garofano’s house and backyard, and the structure of the front of the house began to crack from instability.
Huge metal bolts sticking out of the side of the wall, remnants of scaffolding, and large amounts of orange glue have leaked out and hardened.
She says the emergency services have told them the house is not safe to enter after the recent torrential rains have sunk into the roof. The house is therefore taped.
“It destroyed her livelihood,” said Doriana.
“Stop making people so sad.”
Huge metal bolts protrude from the roof left over from scaffolding used on the site
Vortex used raw wooden structures to hold the railings on the Garofanos walkway to their front door
Adelaide Garofano and her husband Giuseppe bought their home in Hurstville in the 1950s
The Garofanos say Vortex will need another eight to 10 weeks to finish the wall and access their property.
Their main complaint is what they say, a total lack of help from Georges River Council.
They say the council has told them they have tried to help, but they have no control over it, something the Garofanos reject.
“The council only cares about building sites to raise prices, not retirees who will die out in 10 years,” Doriana told Daily Mail Australia.
They say they want answers from the council as to who approved the changes to the original plans and allowed the construction company to proceed with plans.
“We’re just left with this devalued property, damaged property, a huge wall, no rent, land taxes to pay, mom’s retirement money and we’re expected to accept it.”
Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Vortex Construction, Georges River Council and Local Member of Parliament Mark Coure for comment.
Mr Coure told Daily Mail Australia that he has met with the Garofanos several times to assist, including meetings with Georges River Council, and says the matter is now being heard by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Regarding the residential destination issue that the Garofanos say Vortex has broken, Mr. Coure said those approvals are “ under the provision of Georges River Council or Vortex Construction’s private certifier as my office has no role in determining and assess development applications. ‘
The huge wall has cast a shadow over the house and the front garden of the Garofano
The front of the house has suffered cracks, which, according to the Garofanos, are due to instability caused by the construction
The Garofanos say Vortex left part of their crane resting on their roof, causing damage and causing it to be excavated