It used to be a street of dream homes – now they’re being demolished, leaving the owners angry, out of pocket and pointing fingers.
Residents who spent all they had on a property in a new Gold Coast suburb say they are living in a nightmare after their dream homes start to move and crumble around them and that the sewer lines began to leak human waste into the gardens.
One resident said the area was a poorly constructed “time bomb” and that dozens of houses are now expected to be demolished.
Just a few weeks ago, cranes started demolishing the first house in Greenvale Crescent. It is feared that all the houses on the street will meet the same fate.
Homeowners blamed local council and developer Stockland and claimed the $ 11 billion Australian company built the homes without adequate drainage, causing them to falter when heavy rains hit in March.
The locals said they just want to sell and get on with their lives, but are getting “shot” by Stockland. While she agreed to buy back properties, residents accused the company of not giving them a fair price for their condemned homes.
One of them said they were being offered a quarter of a million dollars less than they were entitled to.
But Stockland said the drama was caused by factors beyond its control, including a landslide. He refuted claims he built the suburb cheaply and told news.com.au he had “worked closely” with residents and “accepted high-end market valuations” from affected houses.
At the same time, the local council is demanding that some owners demolish damaged parts of their properties or face a fine of more than $ 600,000. Still, residents said it was city council’s negligence in allowing inadequate development to continue that caused all the problems.
A resident of the Riverstone Crossing estate in Maudsland, 14 miles inland from Surfers Paradise, told news.com.au they live in Australia’s worst newly built suburb.
Property now worthless
“My wife and I are retirees and when we bought the place we were no longer in debt,” Greenvale Crescent resident Tony Hastings told news.com.au.
“But the day after the rain, the property was worthless. Now we are racking up debt, we were in a rented place and we have lawyers involved because Stockland wants the house back.
In November, demolition began on the first house on Greenvale Crescent built five years earlier. Diggers tore apart the house that had already broken in half after rain hit the Gold Coast.
As a result of the soggy conditions, other new homes on two streets in Riverstone Crossing also began to crack, break and even descend the slope.
One of them belonged to Mr. Hastings and his wife Noelene.
They moved to the streets in 2016 after “my wife fell in love with the sight,” he said.
“It was the only place we had ever looked.”
There was “no problem” with the house itself, Mr Hastings said, until after the rain.
“At first it looked like it was a very minor sag of about two inches. We went to the bridge and got to see a water channel. Like what you might get from an overflowing waste pipe.
“We thought it would be pretty easy to fix,” Hastings said.
But when the house was inspected by their insurer, he said they were told to move out immediately “and we never came back expecting furniture.”
Mr Hastings said his house “has been moving since” and now tilts to an angle of about 70mm.
“It’s a solid house, but it’s now showing signs of stress. “
The pool started to move
A few doors down were the Lyall family, including three children, who had moved from Sydney and moved into their million dollar dream home in June 2019.
They also noticed that something was wrong after the March rain.
“My pool started to drop slightly. And from there, day after day, week after week, it just got dramatically worse, ”Jason Lyall told news.com.au.
“The pool has now lowered about a meter and moved in much the same way; the bridge was really solid but it’s falling apart; I have a large cavity under the foot of my balcony; there’s a long crack running the length of my yard that’s big enough to drive your foot in and the retaining wall has failed and the fences have fallen.
The area is a “time bomb”
Several houses have now been purchased by Stockland and at least eight are slated for demolition.
Mr Lyall said he believes the problem is much worse than that with up to 50 homes to repair.
“It’s a time bomb. There is non-compliance all over the place. They’ll have to demolish everything in the area, everything on Greenvale Crescent.
The unstable earth also cut the water pipes and sewers of some houses, forcing the installation of makeshift pipes. Mr Lyall said these failed at least twice.
“The temporary sewer line blew up last week and there was crap everywhere. Young children live on the property below the fault line ”.
Council asks residents to demolish their homes
To add to the Lyall’s woes, Gold Coast City Council has now demanded that over the Christmas break Mr Lyall demolishes the affected pool and patio at his own expense, which could cost him tens of thousands of dollars.
An enforcement notice, seen by news.com.au, demands a “safe, compliant and orderly” demolition with the threat of a fine of $ 620,000 if not completed.
But Mr Lyall said council had not set foot on his property since April, had no idea of the current state of his home and declined to release a report on the issues plaguing the estate.
He speculated that council inquiries may have revealed he and Stockland were at fault, casting doubt on whether the bill for the broken houses should be paid by the owners.
The council told news.com.au that it “was entering a full investigation into the matter” but was not complete.
Bad work claims
Mr Lyall and Mr Hastings, and it is understood other neighbors, have said they are being penalized for substandard construction work at Stockland and for the failure of the Gold Coast Council to properly ensure that the completed development met the requirements.
News.com.au saw a report, commissioned by Stockland before construction began, which warned that the ground around several lots, including where Mr Lyall’s house now stands, was ” saturated, unstable in its current state “and needed to be remedied. Indeed, a ravine crossed many lots.
Another report indicated that there was a “medium” or “very high risk” of “instability of slopes” and that an “subsurface drainage system should be installed” on the lots, which has become a requirement. of the development procedure board.
Stockland insisted that an adequate drainage system was installed “according to site conditions and expert advice throughout construction, and was approved as part of the planning and design of the building. project “. But the root cause of the problem was a landslide.
Mr Lyall said that at “10,000%” there were no drains upstream of all the lots and added that such a system was not even listed in subsequent technical reports and that no one can. indicate where the drains are apparently located.
Nonetheless, the documents show that the council signed that all necessary work had been completed. Mr Lyall said the board had not checked to see if the drains were in place.
Stockland is trying to “target” us
Mr Hastings said the initially sloping land should never have been built and the couple would not have purchased the house if they knew it was indeed on a waterway.
“The flattening of the slope has just sealed its fate. It was never about when he was going to fail, only when.
“When they built this place, they were just covering up the cracks.”
He and his wife now live in rented accommodation.
Stockland offered to buy the Hastings and Lyall houses. But both families say the price offered is too low and won’t allow them to buy a comparable property.
“Buyers from Melbourne and Sydney come here and pay $ 50 to $ 100,000 more than perceived market value, but Stockland wants it at the lowest possible price.”
Mr Hastings said he was underestimated by Stockland as much as $ 250,000.
He was concerned that with the price Stockland offered for their four-bedroom house, they would only get them a two-bedroom house in a few months.
“It’s an 11 billion dollar company, they have deep pockets – they should be doing the right thing.”
Mr Lyall said Stockland was offering 30% less than the market value of his home.
“They’re trying to get us to make a deal that’s less than the house is worth.”
Stockland and Council respond
Stockland said he had been working with the owners since March.
“We now own four affected properties, have remediation agreements in place with two owners and remain committed to finding a way forward with the other owners,” a spokesperson told news.com.au.
“For owners wishing to resell their properties in Stockland, we have accepted top-of-the-line independent market assessments, as well as a policy that recognizes the impacts of moving, renting and other hardships. All owners were able to research their own alternative independent reviews as part of our process. “
A spokeswoman for Gold Coast City Council said she was working with homeowners and developers to address immediate dangers.
“While significant progress has been made since the landslide, safety concerns persist until a full rectification is achieved.
“We are taking all reasonable steps to facilitate the cooperation of all stakeholders and the delivery of rectification work as soon as possible.
“The City is also undertaking a thorough investigation into the matter, which includes providing technical advice from consultants. These investigations are ongoing and should be completed in the new year. “
Mr Hastings said their dream of retirement was shattered.
“Unfortunately, our house has to disappear because the earth is moving. It’s like cancer in the ground, it slips little by little with all this water underneath.
“It should never have been developed.”