An Australian family has been fighting a 10-year battle for compensation after their dream home began to crack.
Karen and Chris Mettimano bought a home in the coastal suburb of Yanchep, south of Perth, Western Australia, in 2011.
Soon after the purchase, their Ocean Lagoon Estate dream home began to buckle and warp, sinking into the ground.
The family home is plagued with defects including a wall in one room hanging from the ceiling, with an entire hand able to fit in the gap between the wall and the floor.
The home’s windows no longer properly open or close and when a marble is placed in the middle of a room it quickly rolls to one side.
Karen and Chris Mettimano’s a home (pictured) in the coastal suburb of Yanchep, south of Perth, Western Australia, is sinking into the ground
The family-of-four is seeking compensation from the State Government and are claiming no-fault subsidence damage.
Mrs Mettimano told Daily Mail Australia it has been a very ‘long and distressing’ rollercoaster as they have fought for compensation over the past 10 years.
‘We have tried to remain as patient as possible over the past couple of years, whilst Government has been preoccupied with Covid, though unfortunately our house continues to sink,’ she said.
‘We need to seek a solution before our dwelling becomes less and less unstable and our safety becomes more at risk.’
Mrs Mettimano explained in a letter to the State Government that she and her husband contacted the builder after ‘significant’ cracks started to appear in the home in 2013.
Since 2013, the couple has contacted every person and organisation involved in the build including Home Insurer, City of Wanneroo, specialists, engineers, builder Scott Park Homes – and Land Developer Peet.
Mrs Mettimano said the pair have lost count of the number of meetings, emails and phone calls they have had with the council, the State Building Commission and local government members.
‘[We’ve organised] multiple building inspections, structural and geotechnical reports, all paid for ourselves,’ she said.
‘Twelve months of legal advice to the point where we could go no further financially or emotionally.’
The Ocean Lagoon Estate dream home began to buckle, warp and crack in 2013 – two years after the family moved in (pictured, crack across the ceiling and down the wall)
The home, which is located in the Ocean Lagoon Estate, is sinking into the ground (pictured) as it was built on karst rocks. The loose soil dissolves from ground water causing the home and retaining wall to subside (pictured)
After almost 10 years of research, the Mettimano family discovered the home’s structural defects was caused by a loss of compaction to the foundation material beneath the dwelling and retaining wall.
The home was built in an area known for underground caves and sinkholes.
Geotechnical reports showed the home was built on karst rocks, which have dissolved from ground water causing the home and retaining wall to subside.
Since the 1960s, The Yanchep area’s karst soil and sinkholes have been extensively studied by cave expert Lex Bastian and in 2003 – two years before the Mettimano’s home was built – Geoscience Australia reported on the area’s underlining issues.
However, the builder, developer, city council and Western Australia’s Planning commission (WAPC) claim they met all legal obligations.
The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, which represents the WA Planning Commission, said the local government was responsible for signing-off on land and developments.
‘Land preparation for development, including compaction, grading, stabilising, filling, and drainage, is not the responsibility of the WAPC,’ the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage said in a statement.
Mrs Mettimano said her family (pictured) is still living in the home, despite it constantly moving, and have put their lives on hold for almost a decade as they fight for compensation
‘In this regard, local governments are responsible for signing off on the works to prepare land for subdivision and development.’
The frustrated family was told in a letter sent by the City of Wanneroo that the matter had been appropriately addressed by the department of planning and did not require any further ‘additional processes’.
The builders, developers, city council and Western Australia’s Planning Commission claim they met all legal obligations with land inspections and tests (pictured, massive crack in the home’s wall)
‘The city for its part must follow legislation and policy set by the State in these matters for both subdivision and dwelling construction through the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage and the Department of Commerce respectively.
‘The city is not in a position to require additional processes or information over and above the requirements of those agencies.’
Mrs Mettimano argued the State Government needs rigorous guidelines to ensure developments go through sufficient and thorough testing and do not put future home owners at risk.
‘At the land development stage the Developer and Engineers should have conducted thorough investigations given the geological risks of deep loose soils in the site area,’ she said.
‘It appears WAPC did not have these guidelines in place and therefore, adequate testing was not completed at time of development.
‘Had this been done, these issues would have been rectified at the time and not become a “latent defect”. ‘
A gap in the exterior wall has become so wide the couple can fit their entire hand between the brick and the foundation (pictured)
Mrs Mettimano said the long drawn-out battle for compensation has taken an emotional and financial toll on her family.
‘It has been extremely stressful and taxing on our family through no fault of our own,’ she said.
‘We just want to get on with our lives and enjoy our family, without this burden.’
She claims two houses in Secret Harbour, one in Mount Lawley and properties in Mullaloo were affected by loose soil and the homeowners all received ex-gratia payments from the State Government.
Western Australia’s Commerce Minister Sue Ellery is investigating the families circumstances and will decide if they receive compensation or not.