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‘They’d knocked down half the house’: Councils powerless to stop dodgy builders

Legislation prevented city councils from issuing orders to repair damage incurred to neighboring properties as a result of normal construction work, she said. “Seeking a solution in these matters is a civil matter.”

Waverley Council issued a work halt to a housing project in Bondi Beach in October, causing headaches for local residents such as Hayley White.

Hayley White, Lee Wright and Lisa Haynes have expressed concern about a building site next to their homes.Credit:Brook Mitchell

White said she was not made aware of the work until builders began tearing down the house. “Immediately the whole house was demolished, only the facade remained.”

White said excavations to create a new basement level invaded her property and damaged her fence.

“Our experience of the owners and builders is that they operate without care and responsibility,” she said.

White’s neighbor Lee Wright estimated his home has sustained $15,000 in damage since demolition and excavations began.

“That includes cracks in the walls and cornices, damage to the front door and security door causing them to malfunction and damage to the front staircase,” he said.

Waverley Council noted in its agenda for its November meeting that the problems associated with the building site were a “bother of annoyance” to the community: “It continues to strain the patience and resources of the neighborhood and the council.”

A spokeswoman for the council said the house’s demolition was not covered by the permission terms of a conforming development certificate (CDC) issued by a private certifier.

The council issued three fines in August, while a private certifier issued a notice to halt works, she said.

“A stop work order was issued for unauthorized works that did not match CDC’s plans,” she said. “If this order is violated with sufficient evidence, a subpoena or fine may be imposed.”

Waverley Council Said Problems Related To A Building Site In Bondi Beach Were A

Waverley Council said problems related to a building site in Bondi Beach were a “source of annoyance” for the community.Credit:Brook Mitchell

City officials are patrolling the site and a DA is needed to resume construction work, she said.

Masselos said a municipality can close a site and impose a $6,000 fine if conditions are met, but “for many developers, this is a small amount and is counted as the cost of doing business.”

Masselos said last year the council was concerned about problems on construction sites under the authority of private certifiers following the partial collapse of a house in Bondi Beach in 2020.

“When the municipality was responsible for certification and oversight, there were far fewer such incidents,” she said.

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Concerns about overdevelopment in Sydney’s eastern suburbs prompted the council to require social impact assessments for some building projects and to fund a $100,000 a year community planning advocate to help residents fight development proposals.

A NSW Fair Trading spokesperson said the government was satisfied it had the tools and resources to effectively oversee the work of private and municipal certifiers.

“Councils still have significant powers to issue injunctions and use other enforcement tools in relation to development concerns and should exercise them,” he said.

A spokesman for the Housing Association declined to comment The sun messengers questions.

A 2022 NSW Upper House report on building standards said the construction industry was still failing to provide safe, reliable and defect-free homes three years after serious defects were discovered in the Opal Towers and Mascot Towers developments.

Labour’s Better Regulation spokeswoman Courtney Houssos said the NSW government failed to monitor the performance of registered building certifiers “leaving residents and owners to repair shoddy construction”.

Only one certifier had been added to Fair Trading’s disciplinary register this year, Houssos said.

She also said 370 complaints were made against building certifiers in 2021-2022, but none were warned or reprimanded.

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“Buying a home is the largest financial investment many will make in their lifetime, and unreliable certifiers leave homeowners to foot the bill for the rectification work,” she said.

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