Faulty apartment claim ‘rubbish’: developer

The man behind the development which ended up costing Queenstown Lakes ratepayers more than $100 million has rubbished claims he built faulty apartments, saying any blame should be aimed at those who did the work and the local council.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council had come to a confidential agreement at the end of 2022 over a leaky apartment claim against Oaks Queenstown Shores Resort in Frankton Rd, an 84-unit apartment block developed by Ross Wensley which opened in 2005.

Unit owners of Queenstown’s Oaks Shores had been suing the council for $162.9m, in a case due to be heard in the High Court at Christchurch in February last year.

But in December, 2022, it was announced the council and the group had come to an agreement and the court case was settled.

A final payout sum was never revealed but it is believed it will cost every ratepayer in the Queenstown Lakes area about $300 a year for 30 years.

Mr Wensley did not have to pay a cent — as the company which carried out the development had been dissolved.

That led to the accusation Mr Wensley cut corners on the apartment development to make more money yet did not have to pay for any repairs.

But on the television programme A Living Hell — Apartment Disasters, broadcast on Sunday night on Sky Open, Mr Wensley disputed that suggestion.

"That is absolute rubbish. If we built high-quality and fantastic apartments then people would pay more for them. And they did," he said.

"I feel really sorry for our customers."

He said to an extent he was responsible but that was in the way he employed the people who did the job.

"Those experts [we employed] let us down. It was not me who was out there with a hammer and nails working. What else could I have done?"

The development was ticked off by the council, he said.

He said all the products used in the development were government approved. He had employed quality builders, engineers and architects.

All work done was code compliant, he said.

Mr Wensley confirmed he had carried out seven developments in the resort.

The council had become the "last man standing" in terms of payout and had become fully liable for the repairs. Other companies involved in the construction of the Oak Shores development had gone out of business and were no longer liable.

Last year, the council had submitted on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) review of the building consent system, wanting a change in liability law.

The council wanted proportionate liability where roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in any claim would be encouraged to manage the risk along with warranties and insurance. The council felt a building consent authority should only have to pay up to 20% of the cost of repairs.

— Staff reporter