Fair Go: Homeowner plagued by mystery noise in new West Auckland home

A strange problem with a newly built house has been keeping a family up at night.

Charlotte Peace went to Fair Go over a noise she and her children had been hearing ever since moving into their West Auckland home, back in January 2020.

She describes it "like someone's putting a trampoline spring, something of that metallic nature under enormous pressure and then letting it go. There's a big ping and then a resonance afterwards".

She suspected the "ping" was coming from a shade structure at the front of her house, made up of metal louvres and wooden beams.

The house was built by Classic Builders. Charlotte says she raised the noise issue with them "almost immediately" after moving in.

"We went into lockdown not long afterwards which I very much understand, Covid has disrupted many things. I am no more special than the next person, I just had to wait my turn."

At the end of 2020, Classic Builders sent various people to investigate - including a builder and the installing roofer. The internal bracing straps were tightened and for a while, that kept the peace.

"But then it started again and it's been well over a year and a half since I reported it again."

Even her neighbours have heard the noise from across the road.

In July, Charlotte gave Classic Builders until September to provide a plan of when it would finish off the jobs. At the beginning of August, a builder got up on a cherry picker to take a closer look at the louvres. A month later, Charlotte says she still hadn't heard a thing.

There were other issues with her house that Charlotte didn't expect from a new build – some which remained unresolved two and a half years on.

A spokesperson from Classic Builders told Fair Go some of the issues highlighted have been "relatively simple to sort and others have required a lot more time and resources to resolve - with the added challenge of working around lockdown and RED protocols that restricted access to people, supplies, and our clients' homes".

Classic Builders maintains it always had an action plan in place to resolve the outstanding issues at Charlotte's place. As to when Charlotte was waiting to hear from them, Classic Builders apologised for pockets of time when communication had been poor on its part.

"We have never stopped taking action and have always taken responsibility for the issues Ms Peace has raised."

After further investigation, Classic Builders says it believes the pinging noise was happening because the timber frame the aluminium louvre screen is fixed to was expanding and contracting with changes in daily temperature.

The structure has been removed, resized and made more flexible. Since it was put back it place, Charlotte hasn't heard a peep, a ping or a bang.

Classic Builders homes come with a 10-year warranty and a two-year defect period. The company says it's currently working to finish the final remedial jobs for Charlotte.

Fair Go also spoke with property lawyer Joanna Pidgeon to get advice for new build home buyers:

- The Building Act sets out that a builder or on-seller must fix defects within a year of completion

- A 'reasonable' period of time to fix defects has been affected by Covid-19 e.g. supply constraints, materials and labour but it shouldn't take more than a few months of notification for a builder or company to carry out repairs

- Have the property inspected before you settle

- Get an expert building inspector to look at the property with you to help make note of any defects

- Every buyer can rely on the warranties that are in the Building Act to ensure work is up to standard and things get repaired within the first year


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