Family-of-five out of pocket almost $1 million in horror housing 'nightmare'

Christina Ehret and her family spent an eye-watering sum on their home, but five years down the line, still have no idea when it'll be completed.

Christina Ehret's family, pictured, who are sharing an unbuilt home that has taken five years to complete.
Five years after work began on Christina Ehret's family home, it's still not finished and has been plagued by issues, despite her forking out almost a million dollars. Source: Stuff/Ricky Wilson

A frustrated grandmother living with four generations of family in her half-built home says she's out of pocket almost $1 million after the company she hired to construct the property went into liquidation. The mum said not only is her home incomplete, what has been built is subpar and even "dangerous".

New Zealand woman Christina Ehret, from Whangaparoa, north of Auckland, said construction on her "dream home" got off to a good start in 2018, but quickly stalled. Now, five years down the line, she's inhabiting the home despite it not being signed off as safe by council.

"It’s draining," Ehret told Stuff. "The stress ... has been extreme." Ehret said she expected the build to take just months, but it was almost immediately plagued by issues. So far, having spent $930,000 (A$847,000), she's still got no idea when it will be finished.

A huge gap under an internal door. Christina Ehret says her home has taken five years to construct and still isn't completed.
Ehret says she can see underneath many of the internal doors. Source: Stuff/Supplied by Christina Ehret

Ehret's family were forced to move into the two-storey, four-bedroom home in 2020 to save funds. Ever since, they say they've found a myriad of faults within the home, including some severe defects which require immediate fixing. In addition, the house is yet to get a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) — the equivalent of Australia's Certificate of Construction Compliance.

Ehret hired construction company Selah Homes to built the house in 2018. By 2019, the land had been cleared and retaining walls were beginning to take shape.

But when Ehret's husband, Brett — an experienced plumber — began helping on weekends, he knew construction wasn't advancing as it should. "There was always an excuse," Ehret said, claiming she contacted Selah Homes repeatedly for answers.

The August 2019 completion date came and went and the project manager assured the family they’d soon be moving in. But in the years and months that passed, they say the work did not get completed.

"We actually sent them a picture ... and said, 'This is getting dangerous — you can't even get through to go to different rooms'," the grandmother told Stuff. Issues plaguing the home include large draughty gaps under internal doors, a leaking roof and water dripped through a living room light fixture, especially when wind and rain pours from a certain direction.

"You shouldn't be able to look under the bathroom door and see the person sitting on the toilet," Ehret said. "I didn't pay to have a water feature in my lounge." Ehret recalled that at one stage, her daughter was up in the attic and found a live wire under the insulation — a major fire hazard.

There were also issues with a retaining wall that runs the length of one of the property’s boundaries, she added. Thankfully, the family paid for a Master Build guarantee, which provides cover for loss of deposits, non-completion and for structural defects, workmanship and materials in New Zealand.

Ehret said she lodged a complaint with the organisation about Selah’s work and a council inspection found a number of ongoing issues. In addition to those already reported, they found a cracked bathroom tile, no insulation at night, and incomplete cladding.

After the relationship between the company and Ehret broke down, lawyers were called in to mediate. Though work on the property continued sparsely for two years, Selah went into liquidation in March 2024 — which is when Master Builders stepped in.

She said the company’s collapse was a blessing in disguise as it enabled Master Builders to finish the job. Though as of May construction is ongoing. Selah Homes did not respond to requests for comment from Stuff. Yahoo News Australia has also made attempts to contact Selah Homes.

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