Yet another group of NSW homeowners is facing a lengthy legal battle after properties started “sinking” into the ground.
Residents in Spring Farm, in Sydney’s west, last week filed a massive class action against the council and the company that developed the estate in NSW’s Supreme Court.
The class action, which encompasses all 3500 people who bought in the estate, regardless of if their house is sinking or not, is seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was today asked about the potentially devastating future many of Spring Farm’s homeowners face, after having only bought into the new estate five years ago.
“I think it would be horrific for anyone who’s invested in their family home, in their forever home, to have to find themselves in those circumstances,” Ms. Berejiklian said.
“I wish them well.”
First reported by the Daily Telegraph, it’s believed the issues at Spring Farm were triggered after the land was not filled and compacted properly, before the building started.
Homes less than five years old have begun cracking and falling apart as the squishy land underneath them shifts, with some residents saying their doors no longer close and others witnessing their bricks cracking under the pressure.
Mayweathers, the law firm behind the Spring Farm class action, sent letters out to the neighbourhood this week.
Despite some struggling with cracking houses, many seem to be ignorning the class action – with commenters on a Spring Farm Facebook page today saying they had put the expression of interest letter in the bin.
“Our house was built in 2009 and we see no major cracks to be concerned about. With age, cracks do appear,” one wrote.
“I remember when we built, we were told not to build on standard M class slabs because of the conditions of the soil in the area. Most builders were forced to upgrade to a H class slabs.”
“Put it in the bin, been in the house we built a year and seems fine so far have an H slab,” another said.
However other Spring Farm locals pointed out the long-standing issues with the suburb – and the decades of sand mining that occurred there before it was gentrified.
“Pretty much all the houses are built on top of fill. As in sandstone, shale, clay. A lot of it has been excavated and still being excavated from the new tunnels being built so they use new blocks as tip sights,” one local said.
“Even though it’s compacted there will still be some small movement in the foundation.
“Our house has some small cracks here and there but for this sort of letter to be sent out some people must’ve have some serious problems in the area.”
Lead plaintiff Danny Moussa, who paid $560,000 for a house and land package at Spring Farm, told the Daily Telegraph he was losing sleep at night due to lying in bed and hearing the tiles and gyprock cracking.
“There’s this stress of not knowing if the house is going to come down on you one day,” he said.
Mr. Moussa, whose home is less than five years old, said he and his wife had spent more than $40,000 in an attempt to repair the issues – but the problems have persisted.
“The area has a stigma, it’s called ‘Sink Farm’,” he said.
Spring Farm falls under the governance of Camden Council, with residents and builders who constructed houses in the estate now questioning how exactly the land was filled in.
In a statement, Camden Council said it was yet to receive any formal notice of a class action and thus was “unable to provide any comments or further information”.
Spring Farm was built on a former chicken farm and large swathes of industrial estate.
A directions hearing for the class action will be heard in the NSW Supreme Court this Friday.
Spring Farm owners battling similar issue to Jordan Springs
The Spring Farm owners already have some legal precedence to support their court battle.
Their class action follows a similar situation in Jordan Springs, near Penrith in Sydney’s northwest, where homes started sinking.
Property giant Lendlease, the developer behind the Jordan Springs estate, offered to buy back up to 841 homes last year.
Only around 90 homes were affected by the sinking, the developer said in December last year, however it wanted to “reassure” residents.
An investigation conducted by Penrith City Council found some homes had allegedly been built on landfill “of low relative compaction” and was subsiding.
“Based on our investigations and expert advice, we firmly believe the vast majority of properties aren’t impacted by excessive settlement, which is localised to approximately 90 houses in the precinct’s Armoury Road area,” a spokesman for Lendlease told The Guardian.
“In response to council’s actions, we’ve proactively reassured residents – beyond the 90 we believe may be impacted – that we’ll support them in the unlikely event that their property experiences settlement issues beyond the requirements of the Australian Standard.”
This article first appeared in: news.com.au