While many Australians take advantage of the first-home buyer and house-and-land-package grants on offer as the Government attempts to stimulate the construction sector, a Queensland couple has been fighting a six-month battle after building their first home in a new development in Logan, south of Brisbane.
Nina and Wayne Austin have been entangled with the local council and their builder after a neighbouring house was built so close to their own home that the roofs and gutters are touching side-by-side.
Mr Austin, who works in the construction industry, panicked when he saw the slab go down just 10 months after the couple moved into their new home.
“No other home is like this … there are other homes that are close, but not like ours,” Mrs Austin told the ABC.
“The roof and gutters were touching and pushing ours. They shaved off a few millimetres, but it’s not right,” she said. “People walk past, and they say, ‘Oh wow, what’s happened there?’”
The Austins said their builder made a decision to change the approved building plans for their home, flipping the garage to the other side of the property to fit on their block, and the changes went ahead after being certified.
Less than a year after the family-of-four moved into their four-bedroom, two-bathroom house, the couple was horrified to realise how unusually close the house next door was to theirs.
They raised the issue with Logan City Council to be told the neighbour’s house was legal and it was their home that should not have been certified.
“Our trust was in the builder and certifier, 100 per cent. It’s their job to get these things right. If they can’t get it right, they’ve got to fix it – simple,” Mr Austin said.
Mrs Austin said it has been emotionally and financially exhausting.
“We feel like the investment for the future for our kids is gone; that we are not safe. We feel ripped off.”
The couple have two young children and are living on a single income.
“We just wanted a house where we could have a yard for the kids. This was just a stepping stone to get into the market, so we could hopefully sell in a few years and get the house we wanted. I don’t know how we are going to sell now,” she said.
The pair applied for insurance through the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), but were told they were not eligible for the home warranty scheme because it was a planning issue and not a building defect.
They have filed a second complaint against the certifier, which is still being investigated.