Residents tackle builder over ruined road, cracked walls

Leila Garde and Gary Lotter want damage to public and private property fixed after construction of an upmarket sectional title development in Empire Avenue.

The construction of a R120 million block of 36 flats in Hout Bay has left in its wake a broken public road and cracks in the walls of neighbours’ homes, say residents.

Home owners in the lower end of Lancaster Street live across the road from St James Place, in Empire Avenue, and they say they endured months of blocked access, trucks and cement mixers rumbling past their homes, noise and dust during construction of the sectional-title development (“New Hout Bay development welcomed”, Sentinel, November 18).

Leila Garde, whose house backs onto the wetland, said the disturbance to their lives included two weeks of vibrations from a heavy-duty compactor compressing the ground at the building site.

“The rattling of shelves during the preparation of the site was insane. The glassware and crockery would rattle to the point I thought they would bounce off the shelves – no exaggeration,” said Ms Garde.

Neighbours claim the builder, LPCon (Linde & Prinsloo Construction), damaged the road during construction with their trucks delivering building materials, and they have made no attempt to fix it other than filling some of the potholes with concrete.

Gary Lotter, who lives across the road from the northern boundary of the complex, wants to know who pays to fix the damage. “And how is it possible for the City to allow builders to behave in this manner?”

Mr Lotter said that while Lancaster Street had deteriorated after heavy winter rains, the south side of the complex was newly tarred. “As this is the entrance, and obviously part of the investment,” he said.

The other problem, according to the residents, is thick cracks in the walls of their homes, which, they say, have increased since the builders left.

Resident, Paul Garde said, “The complex is all shiny on the outside, but promises of cleaning up have not happened.”

Mr Lotter said LPCon had failed to make good on promises to fix the road, including damaged kerb stones, despite several reminders sent by email.

Co-founder of LPCon, Lucas Prinsloo, said they had told the residents that the standard practice in a case like this was to meet with the council and discuss the matter.

“They (council) also need to contribute as the roads were already in bad shape. We are planning that meeting the first week in December,” said Mr Prinsloo.

LPCon was prepared to pay half, but the City should pay the rest, he said, adding that the City also needed to refund their client about R75 000 for the short payment for water and sewer connections.

Regarding the plaster cracks in residents’ homes, Mr Prinsloo said his company’s structural engineer had assured him that the compactor could not have caused them.

Mr Prinsloo said residents could lodge claims with the company’s insurer.

“If they deem the cause of the damage to be attributed to our activities, they should take it up with us,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews said construction had been in line with an approved building plan, and a City building inspector would visit the site.

Regarding the cracks, he suggested residents consult a legal expert for guidance.

Gary Lotter’s handyman fixing cracks inside the house.
Gary Lotter with one of the cracks that he says has appeared since the building company left.
The building company patched some of the potholes with concrete.