Family forced to move over major construction blunder

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

A family had their entire lives uprooted after their home, which they had lived in for seven years, began being built “on top of” by a neighbouring development.

Bridie Ward, 36, her husband and their daughter, who was three at the time, were forced out of their house in Rosewater, Adelaide, in 2017 after a new unit development came so close it squashed their gutter.

“We were at work when they were doing the construction and came home to see that, then spoke to the developer owner...he said ‘you guys were over the boundary’,” Mrs Ward told Yahoo News Australia.

They contacted Port Adelaide Enfield Council and were told their home had in fact been built over the property’s boundary line, but aside from enduring a long and expensive court process, there was not much they could do about it.

The gutter shown being squashed by the frame of the new development. Source: Supplied/Bridie Ward

“Previously there was an old house next door to us, and we were at the back of a hammerhead block, so what was next door to us was just an empty backyard,” she said.

“So we had no reason to believe we were over the boundary until there was a house on top of us.”

Mrs Ward said there was nothing in the home plans that suggested there was an issue with where the house had been built when her husband purchased it in 2010.

“There was no reason to believe when we bought it that something like this would occur.”

The family eventually came to the tough decision they would sell up and move, which meant shifting their daughter to a new childcare facility and establishing themselves in a new suburb, City of West Torrens, about 12 kilometres away.

“We moved our whole lives really to another area. But it’s been for the best for us,” Mrs Ward said.

Light to the family's home was blocked along an entire boundary line by the new development. Source: Supplied/Bridie Ward

“We’ve been quite lucky to get out of it the way we did because I know there is other people who don’t, or can’t afford to move.”

Buyers advised to check plans and boundaries

Mrs Ward urged homebuyers to be thorough in checking house plans and potential future developments when they considered purchasing a new home.

“Check what could go on and not just what the house looks like now,” she said.

She also called on developers and the state government to issue fair warnings for homebuyers, and allow homeowners the opportunity to negotiate conditions if they run into an issue like hers.

“I think we were deceived...there was a lot of deceptive conduct. And the owner didn’t ask us, they just ripped our fence out. We were subject to a lot of dishonest conduct.”

Mrs Ward said “people need to do a bit more due diligence, and instead of people having to communicate with you, go out and communicate with them and make sure you know where you stand”.

Bridie Ward said her family had to start over in a new area after a block of units was built "on top" of their home. Source: Supplied/Bridie Ward

A spokesperson for Port Adelaide Enfield Council told Yahoo News Australia plans for Mrs Ward’s home were approved by council in 2007, but when it was built, part of it hung over the border.

“When this residence was constructed, it may not have been built according to the approved plans, in that the eaves appear to have been built over the neighbouring property boundary,” they said.

“The Development Act allows a property owner to build up to the boundary. The adjoining dwelling built in 2017 by Fenbreeze Homes, has legally built part of the garage wall on the boundary consistent with the approved plans.

“This new dwelling would not touch the gutter of the existing property if this existing dwelling was built according to the approved plans.”

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