On 6 April 2016 the Full Court of the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld a decision made by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal against Metricon.
The Full Court upheld the ruling by the Tribunal in December 2014 that Metricon pay for the demolition and re-construction of the home. The homeowners, Mr Earl and Mrs Shelley Softley are relieved that they no longer have to live in their defective home built by Metricon. In particular they are relieved to finally be able to move forward and plan for the next stages of their lives.
The legal battle between the Softleys and Metricon has been ongoing for six years. In the same position as many homeowners who contract a builder to build the home of their dreams, the Softleys worked hard to save for their new home. The Softleys expected a brand new beautiful home that they could live comfortably in, however in 2010 shortly after moving into their new home they noticed structural faults within their home.
The Softleys made repeated requests to Metricon for the defects to be rectified. The result was sub-standard fixes by Metricon and the problems persisted. The Softleys had no other option but to seek legal action in an attempt to fight for the reconstruction of their new home.
In 2012 Slater and Gordon Lawyers, launched legal proceedings against Metricon. The 10 day trial was heard in November 2014. The Tribunal was presented with evidence to support the Softleys position that the home was suffering from severe structural failure, with extensive cracking both internally and externally due to slab heave.
In December 2014 the Tribunal ordered that Metricon pay for the demolition and re-construction of the home, as well as paying for removalists and rental accommodation. Metricon then sought leave to appeal the decision, which was heard by the Full Court in September 2015.
Slab Heave in Melbourne Homes
Since 2011 Slater and Gordon Lawyers have been investigating the issue of slab heave and have since been approached by over 200 homeowners suffering from similar problems to the Softleys. Slab heave is an issue that affects many homes, particularly in Melbourne’s north and western suburbs where the soil is reactive and prone to swelling and contracting with changing moisture levels.
Robert Auricchio of Slater and Gordon Lawyers who represented the Softleys has said that the decision by the Full Court sends a clear message to the industry that the consumer will be protected and the need for builders to take particular care in preventing slab heave or they will pay the price.