Bella Vista trial: ‘There were obvious areas of concern’, witness reveals



A key witness in the ongoing trial of Bella Vista Homes Limited has revealed “areas of concern” and “erratic” workmanship in at least three houses he was called to inspect following the demise of the development company.

Claymark sales and marketing manager Neil Sedgwick is giving evidence in the trial in Tauranga District Court today for five parties charged over the failed development.

Bella Vista Homes Limited, The Engineer Limited, their respective directors Danny Cancian and Bruce Cameron, plus bricklayer Darrel Joseph, are defending a raft of charges.

Sedgwick told the court he visited three homes on Aneta Way in May last year, following the emergency evacuation of the home’s residents and liquidation of Bella Vista Homes.

“I was asked to go there and have a look at certain areas … to find out my thoughts regarding workmanship.”

When prosecution counsel Richard Marchant asked what Sedgwick had found, he told the court there were issues with weatherboards and “erratic” nail patterns, sometimes involving inappropriate nails.

Weatherboards from the homes, inspected by Sedgwick, were found to exceed the standard moisture levels allowed for under the New Zealand Building Code.

“Ideally it should be 15 to 17 per cent. Across the board, it ranged from 10 to 25 per cent. You start to ask questions around the 17 per cent mark, if 30 per cent is saturation mark then 25 per cent is quite high.

“There were obvious areas of concern with regards to weatherboards.”

The court also heard there had been nail holes in the weatherboards that had not been filled straight away, potentially leading to “high” moisture content.

Sedgwick said there was also surface cracking on the weatherboards from moisture “trying to escape”.

The court heard the weatherboards had been primed with Metal X 100 per cent undercoat, which Sedgwick said was not recommended under Claymark’s instructions and installation manual.

Judge Paul Mabey asked Sedgwick if Metal X 100 per cent was in any way a substitute for primer to which Sedgwick replied, “No, I wouldn’t recommend it, no”.

Under cross-examination, Cancian’s defense counsel Bill Nabney put to Sedgwick that just because Claymark did not recommend a certain primer, it did not necessarily mean it did not do the job of a primer.

“You said earlier that it couldn’t be used as a primer. Are you now saying you don’t know?
The reality is this can be used as a primer if you used two coats.”

Sedgwick said he could not say and would need to look at it. He later said the product would not meet Claymark requirements for a primer.

Judge Mabey questioned Sedgwick, “How do we know the rain hadn’t got into those corners before your inspection?”, to which Sedgwick replied, “We don’t”.

The trial restarted yesterday after it was put on hold in March due to Covid-19.

The trial continues.



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