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Emery Point defects: CDL and others sued

08 February 11 | The Straits Times
by Selina Lum

THE residents of Emery Point condominium have sued listed developer City Developments Limited (CDL), the main contractor, five subcontractors and the architect over numerous building defects.

The condo's management corporation, representing the owners, is claiming about $600,000 in compensation to rectify defects in 17 areas.

These include a leaking basement carpark, which is located below a swimming pool, cracks in walls, and lift lobbies with ceilings damaged by rainwater.

The case opened in the High Court yesterday, and is fixed for a 10-day hearing.

Emery Point, an 18-storey block of 51 units at Ipoh Lane in the Tanjong Katong area, is a freehold development completed in 2003, but not fully sold until 2007.

In his opening statement, lawyer Leo Cheng Suan, representing the condo owners, said that CDL was fully aware of the defects. 'The plaintiffs are extremely disappointed that CDL, being a public-listed company, did not live up to its social responsibility to build quality homes.'

He said many of the defects were caused by the long period in which the unsold units were closed up, and exposed to high heat and humidity.

Some defects were discovered in September 2003, when the Building and Construction Authority issued a certificate of statutory completion (CSC) for the development. Others were discovered after the management corporation assumed responsibility for the condo's common property from CDL in July 2005.

Around July 2007, the owners hired building surveyors to conduct an audit, which found extensive defects and shortcomings in 17 areas.

Highlighting the key defects, Mr Leo said the most glaring one was in the basement carpark, which had been 'leaking since the very beginning'.

Despite numerous repairs, the carpark, located below the swimming pool, is an 'unwanted water feature', said Mr Leo.

He also noted that a building surveyor hired by CDL and main contractor Hytech Builders had conceded that there were a 'staggering' 280 points of water leakage in the carpark.

The low fencing of the children's playground also poses a 'death trap' for children if they were to climb over it and fall right into the basement carpark, said Mr Leo.

Other defects include leaky windows and cracks in the tennis court surface.

Mr Leo said the defendants were prepared to do only cosmetic patch repairs at the lowest possible cost, such as 'applying silicone to try to stop the leaks for a few months'. The lawyer described these as 'delay tactics' to 'wear out' the owners until the warranties expire.

CDL, represented by Mr Ling Tien Wah, conceded that there were defects due to the contractors' 'poor workmanship', but contended that 'there is no such thing as a perfect building'.

The developer argued that it was liable only for defects for the two units sold before the CSC date. As for the rest of the owners, who had bought their units after that, CDL was not liable for any defects found in these units.

The key defence raised by the other defendants was that the problems were not defects, but were caused by wear and tear.