Dream home becomes a nightmare for family
By EMMA O'NEILL firstname.lastname@example.org IMAGINE going to the dentist without an anaesthetic. That's how Lennox Head resident Robert Siebert described recent visits to the building site of his 'dream home', which should have been finished five years ago.
However, for five years the Sieberts have been renting a house around the corner from their Skennars Head block of land, and on that block sits the skeleton of a house which Mr Siebert claims is so defective it needs to be knocked own or major repairs undertaken.
Mr Siebert, who has an engineering degree, never thought he'd be in this situation when he signed the contract in February 2003 with Cavalier Homes (Gold Coast).
"I did my research before starting the project and didn't think I'd have any problems," he said.
When The Northern Star contacted Cavalier Homes (Australia), a representative from the company said that Cavalier Homes (Gold Coast) was run as an independent franchise, and that in September 2003 they had terminated this franchise agreement due to a breach.
The representative of Cavalier Homes (Australia) said details of the breach were confidential.
The contract signed by Mr Siebert in 2003 required that Cavalier Homes (Gold Coast) complete his home, valued%at $211,440, on the Skennars Head block by May 2003.
However, Mr Siebert said that from the start of the project, he noticed things which he felt were below building standards on-site.
"From the start, I started to notice things that simply weren't right," he said.
"Like the fact that the termite proofing wasn't up to Australian standards.
"And the fact that the roof was clearly shorter than it should be."
Mr Siebert approached the Office of Fair Trading with his complaints and it carried out a complaints inspection in October 2003.
It deemed brickwork, among other things, to be defective and requested that these problems be rectified.
When a representative of Cavalier Homes (Gold Coast), which has not been operating since 2003, was asked by The Northern Star if attempts had been made to rectify these problems, they refused to comment.
Three years later claiming that the problems with the building had not been fixed Mr Siebert took his case to the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT), claiming compensation for defective and incomplete work, liquidating damages, pain and suffering, sundry expenses and costs.
The CTTT ordered Cavalier Hoes (Gold Coast) to pay Mr Seibert $77,753.
A representative from Cavalier Homes (Gold Coast) confirmed the payment had not been made, but when asked why had refused to comment. A director of Cavalier Homes (Gold Coast), Tony Younan, was also fined $5500 for improper conduct in 2005.
When asked by The Northern Star if this fine was related to the building of the Skennars Head property, Mr Younan said 'yes'.
But he then refused to comment further. However, the CTTT did not order the house to be knocked down and rebuilt as Mr Seibert had requested in his primary argument.
The 2006 CTTT hearing stated that 'I am not satisfied that the house requires complete demolition and replacement. Although there are many defects in this house, the evidence does not establish that the house must be demolished'.
What does all this mean? Robert Siebert hopes the claim he has placed on home warranty insurance will help recover the costs to date and help fix his house.
It also means continuing to live in a cramped rental property with his wife and two young children, in a house that is a short drive from the skeleton of their dream home. A dream that has now turned sour.
"I wish I could walk away from this place, but I've invested too much time into it now," Mr Siebert said.