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Fair Go: Wednesday October 17

Published: 5:56PM Wednesday October 17, 2012 Source: Fair Go

Boundary problem
Hannah Wallis
Chris Gable bought an old Dunedin house three years ago, started renovating, got Council Consent, then got a survey of the old fence line between his property and the neighbouring bush reserve.
The surveyor discovered the real boundary actually cut through a big chunk of Chris's backyard and went right through a corner of his house. Council withdrew the building Consent because by law, they can't approve any new building on the part of the house that was over the boundary, even though the actual size of the house, the footprint, had not increased at all. If it was Council land there may have been room for negotiation, but they only manage the reserve, it is owned by DOC. Council's suggestion is for Chris to cut back the corner of his house and he could continue to live as is, where is. Chris says it's not his mistake, it's been like this for at least 89 years, why should he lose part of his house? Two other options, to either buy a strip of the reserve or do a land swap , would be too expensive and too uncertain. He could get a License to Occupy for a few hundred dollars but it only lasts 10 years and he couldn't finish the work he'd planned on the house.
This is a case where by doing the right thing, getting a proper boundary survey, Chris has copped it.
We'd like to hear from anyone who thinks they might be able to help Chris. Maybe someone who's successfully negotiated with DOC, with the crown, to get back part of a boundary they thought they owned.
Bus lanes
Ali Mau
Bus lanes have been a controversial addition to our roads in the past decade, with millions of dollars collected across the Auckland region alone.  Grant Rankin is one driver who's been stung by a $150 fine for driving for more than 50 metres in a bus lane, but he believes his fine is unjust. That's because, he says, the bus lane was not marked correctly, as is required under law. He could see the green paint - but he couldn't see any white writing indicating it was a bus lane. He chose to defend the matter in court, but 5 days before the case was due to be heard, Auckland Transport sent him a letter saying they agreed that "the road marking 'Bus Lane' was not visibly marked .. as required under the Transport Traffic Control Devices Rule 2004." They withdrew the case.
Might this mean that thousands of other drivers would also be implicated by Auckland Transport's admission that their bus lane was incorrectly marked? Our legal experts says drivers can't be expected to follow a rule that's been incorrectly implemented.
No, say Auckland Transport, because they made a mistake when they told Grant in writing that they'd made a mistake. Ali talked to the boss of Auckland Transport who said the letter to Grant was poorly worded, and the markings were right all along - you just couldn't see them on the video footage in the wet conditions. They say Grant was in the bus lane illegally, but because the footage wasn't clear, they withdrew the case. 7 other people who drove in the bus lane that same morning were successfully prosecuted.

Golden guarantee
Gordon Harcourt
We reckon small problems should be easily fixed.  
Donna and Geoff in Rotorua have a small, annoying problem.  Their house is just three years old, but ugly cracks are appearing in the cladding - plaster over concrete panels.  They bought the place this year.
The house was a Golden Homes show home, so that's who they contacted.   A bloke turned up in a Golden Homes ute and took some photos. 
Then a letter arrived from a local building company - basically it said 'sorry, not our problem, we think it's vibration from trucks.'
Now Donna and Geoff do live next to a quite busy road, but come on, can you really make that call from a visit and some photos?
I asked a building surveyor.  He said talk to a structural engineer.
The structural engineer said to talk to a geotechnical engineer.
Two geotechnical engineers agreed it would take weeks of testing to figure it out, and you couldn't be 100% certain.
The building company is Steel Frame Construction Ltd (SFC), the local Golden Homes franchisee.  It didn't do weeks of testing. It did no testing at all.

The Looyens reckon they have a warranty. So the crucial question turns out to be who is legally responsible for honouring the warranty - if there is one - and fixing the cracks.  We've repeatedly tried to find that out, with no luck.
Golden Homes head office got involved. They said Donna and Geoff should have gone to the company that offered the guarantee on the cladding, and SFC should have told them to do that.
We say why on earth would Donna and Geoff go looking for a company they weren't told to look for, when the company they did look for turned up at their place and then sent a letter saying they wouldn't fix the cracks.

But today, Golden Homes head office said the Looyens don't have any warranty documents, just some marketing material from a real estate agent, unauthorised by Golden Homes. 
They say the Looyens don't have a contract with SFC, and SFC acted in good faith to inspect the dwelling - the assessment may not have been accurate.

Finally though, the cracks have been fixed.     

Franchise homes
If you own or are thinking of building a home through one of those brands you see on TV, you need to be clear about who your contract is with.
In general what you might call "head office" has no legal liability for any problems that arise.  Your contract is with the local franchisee, not the brand.