A drawn out dispute between a developer and Hume City Council has left in limbo a young couple building their dream home.
Jake Piggott and Megan Hammond purchased a block of land in Stockland’s Highlands development last October and are still waiting for their title.
When they bought their block off the plan of Stockland’s $1.4 billion Craigieburn development last year, they were told a land title would be issued for the property in June the next year.
That timeframe has been delayed twice, first to December this year, then to January next year.
“I just want my title so I can build our home,” Mr Piggott said.
“It’s frustrating – we’ve gone and bought all this furniture and we’re having to store it in our parents’ garages. I was ready to move out of home.”
The couple have been living with Mr Piggott’s family at Craigieburn while waiting for their own home to be built.
Adding to the stress they face is the possibility of an added cost from Henley Properties, the builder they signed a pre-construction contract with to build their home.
Mr Piggott said he was told the couple would face “fines” of about $1000 each month if construction could not begin six months after the agreed start date.
Henley Properties told Star Weekly that they do not issue fines, but instead the builder absorbs the risk of price increases if construction is delayed by eight months.
After this time, the property owner must make a one-off payment to cover the inflated cost of building the house.
David Allington, Stockland’s residential communities regional manager, said Stockland submitted a modified development plan to Hume council for this particular stage of the Highlands estate in September, when Ms Hammond and Mr Piggott purchased their land.
He said the company expected Hume council to process the amended plan within weeks, but a sticking point over the minimum distances that houses should be set back from Mount Ridley Road and Malcolm Creek led to months of delay.
However, Hume council’s city sustainability director Kelvin Walsh described the modifications as “significantly different”.
Mr Allington apologised to Stockland customers affected by the delay.
“We will continue to complete construction of this stage and obtain all remaining approvals by January 2016, if not sooner,” he said.
The company has agreed to pay any fines or additional costs required by builders as an act of goodwill.