Law firm Slater and Gordon has had a significant legal victory today in a test case that could have major implications for hundreds of homeowners forced to live in substandard homes in Melbourne’s north and west.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal has awarded Melton West couple Earl and Shelley Softley the cost of demolition and re-erection of their home after it suffered major structural faults because of slab heave. The decision followed a 10 day trial heard in November.
Metricon Homes, which built the Softley’s home, must pay the Softelys the costs of demolition and rebuilding, as well as removalists’ costs and rental accommodation during re-construction
“Our dream home turned into a nightmare and the past five years have been really hard for us,” Mr Softley said.
“We are now looking forward to finally moving forward and we hope that we have been able to help other homeowners.”
Slater and Gordon Associate Robert Auricchio said VCAT’s decision was a major victory for homeowners whose dream homes had been destroyed.
“This decision puts builders on notice to comply with Australian Standards, particularly during construction, and it gives confidence to others considering legal action over slab heave,” Mr Auricchio said.
“For too long they have been forced to live in unbearable conditions, literally watching their homes cracking and falling apart around them.”
Mr Auricchio said Slater and Gordon had been contacted by more than 100 homeowners who had suffered a similar fate to the Softleys.
“It is now time for the building industry to tackle this problem head on.
“A dedicated independent task force must be established to deal with the slab heave issue and the industry must fund an independent dispute resolution scheme so that difficult and complex and very costly legal proceedings can be avoided.”