Tweed Heads residents take the stand
RESIDENTS of units at Tweed Heads are set to take the stand against construction giant Villa World in the Federal Court, over claims construction flaws destroyed their dream homes.
The 11-storey Silverstone apartments on Thompson St were the ultimate luxury for residents who purchased the units in 2009 at a cost of between $380,000 and $900,000 each.
All 27 owners have joined together against Villa World, with a claim over building defects including mould, rust, ceiling cracks, water leaks, cracked tiles, flaking paint and rotting timber.
The Australian Stock Exchange-listed company is one of seven parties in the case - residents are also suing structural engineers and the suppliers of a porous pre-fabricated wall by AFS Walling Solutions.
They supplied a product claimed to enable moisture to fester into mould.
Attwood Marshall lawyer Jeff Garrett said residents were relieved to finally have their day in court, with some suffering respiratory problems, divorce, heart attack and stress skin disorders over the court proceedings, now lasting three years.
"It's obviously costing them a lot of money and stress," he said.
Mr Garrett said their personal injuries were submitted to court during earlier hearings, but Villa World counsel Brad Scale said the company was not aware of their circumstances.
"Legal proceedings of this nature are complex and lengthy," Mr Scale said.
Silverstone body corporate chairperson Janet Hamilton said of 27 units, two had been abandoned and another left vacant after its owner was declared bankrupt.
"The Federal Court was the next step for us. We just have to keep challenging Villa World and keep going," Ms Hamilton said.
"We bought beautiful units in a fantastic place and never dreamed we would be in a mess like this.
"We're hoping we're able to get a resolution so we can all move on."
A main point of contention will be the compensation paid to residents: Villa World experts have lodged an estimated $6.5 million hit over the claims with the ASX, but Mr Garrett said compensation should be closer to $20m.
A two-day mediation has been set for August 23 and 24 in Sydney. If it fails, the matter is set for trial from October 6-28.
All parties are keen to resolve the matter.
"Everyone is hopeful and optimistic of it being settled and not having to go to court because that saves a lot of cost risk and stress, but if it doesn't, we have our trial date," Mr Garrett said.
Mr Scale said Villa World remained "willing to explore a commercial resolution together with all other parties to the proceedings".
Lawyers will apply for Judge Jayne Jagot to visit the units for an inspection.