Get good advice before you buy a section - Fair Go's tips after Christchurch couple found material buried on their lot

The case of a Christchurch couple who bought a section for their dream home only to find the land had material buried on it, prompted Fair Go to come up with a checklist for others who might find themselves in a similar situation.

Sheree and Ryan Brinch were facing a potential bill in the tens of thousands of dollars if they wanted to build their dream home after the find.

The developer of the land, who denied liability for the trouble, made a generous offer to pay for earthworks, so the couple could make progress on their home. 

See Fair Go's full story here.

Here's the due diligence checklist:

MOST IMPORTANTLY, GET GOOD ADVICE - probably from a lawyer.

What follows is just some general guidance that you may want to include in conversations about your prospective purchase BEFORE YOU SIGN AND BUY.

We note that Fair Go aren’t property experts and none of this should be confused for advice, it is just intended to help you ask the experts the right questions.

A LIM report - from the council. Make sure it is addressed to you.

Building inspection and surveyor report - same as for the LIM report, get it in your name. Also be aware what that doesn’t cover - like the drains. Where exactly do they run and what shape are they in?

Title, easements and covenants review - in case there’s anything you can’t do on the land, or anything you must let someone else do (access for fibre, drains, future road widening).

Insurance -  can you get insurance for it? What are the hidden costs like retaining walls?

Finance and funding - If you’re just chinning the bar to afford the purchase, you may be tempted to cut costs on things like the geo-tech advice… Risky.

Personally visiting and inspecting the site - talk to the neighbours if you can.

Reviewing the relevant District Plan for land use rules - not only to see what you can do but also what others might be able to. What could the neighbours build right next door, or in between you and that view?

Request and review any EQC and private insurance assignments - what’s the history and are any repairs up-to-date? Not just for Christchurch as EQC handles slips country-wide.

An independent valuation - so you’re comfortable with what it is worth.

If you are buying bare land - where do the services like power, fibre, and so on, stop and how much will you pay to hook up your section?

And of course - a geotechnical report if you are buying bare land, to check the surface and subsurface conditions and materials. Don’t just assume your bit is as good as the neighbours, or as good as new because it has just been subdivided.

What can go wrong when you buy land? Can you assume it’s fit to build on? How can you find out first? Source: Fair Go

Finance rivals Grant Robertson and Amy Adams trade politics for jokes in the House

Questioning over finances for Budget 2018 turned to jokes about "good-looking horses" in parliament today, with Minister for Racing Winston Peters getting on board, asking for clarification on the government's position on bloodstock funding. 

National's finance spokesperson Amy Adams asked Minister of Finance Grant Robertson today, "Does he stand by his statement, 'It's a perfect Budget, I knew it was?'".

Mr Robertson delivered his Budget 2018 speech last Thursday.

"In keeping with my well-deserved reputation for modesty, I made that comment in jest at the end of my post-Budget speech on Friday when there were no questions from the audience, indicating that all 600 of them were happy with the Budget," Mr Robertson said. 

Ms Adams replied: "If that comment was in jest, were the tax deductions only available to good looking horses also a joke?" 

Budget 2018 allowed for $4.8 million over four years for tax deductions for costs of high-quality horses intended for breeding. 

"Absoultely not," Mr Robertson said. 

Winston Peters then quipped up, saying, "now that the subject has been raised by the opposition, is it the government's intention in its bloodstock policy with respect to races, to pay the money out to horses that can look good, or run fast?"

Mr Robertson said the intention was instead to support "horses that could breed other horses that both look good and run fast". 


Most read story: Man denied insurance cover over honest mistake - 'It's not fair, it's rubbish'

Note: This story was first published on Monday May 21

Shane has been denied income cover by insurance company because he failed to tell them of a condition unrelated to a rare nerve disorder that's kept him off work. Source: Fair Go

Shane Laker was diagnosed four years ago with a rare nerve disorder, trigeminal neuralgia, which causes him severe pain in his head, neck and right arm.

Shane’s been unable to work, he’s had to sell his share of his flooring business and he’s selling his family home.

He claimed on his income protection insurance with Partners Life, but they voided his insurance entirely because he had failed to disclose three unrelated conditions on his insurance application form.

The insurers said a combination of undisclosed sleep apnoea, high blood pressure and high cholesterol readings, meant Shane would not have been accepted for insurance in the first place.

Shane’s insurance form was 32-pages long and required a huge amount of current - and historical - medical information,  but it did not require either Shane or Partners Life to verify that information prior to sign up.

After Shane made his claim, Partners Life accessed all his medical records and found the undisclosed information.

Partners Life say they cannot allow clients to get payouts they would not have been entitled to had they made disclosure, and cannot accept “I forgot” or “I didn’t think it was important” as reasons for non-disclosure.

They say their applications are easy to understand, and they ask for health information that any client should know. Partners Life's decision to deny Shane’s claim was supported on review by the Insurance Ombudsman as being both reasonable and in-line with prudent underwriting practice.

Shane wants to see a law change so that innocent or mistaken non-disclosure like his case, is not cause for voiding insurance, and he wants the insurer to have to access and assess medical records prior to sign-up.  

Change may be underway though.

Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi has now asked for public submissions on an insurance law review which will include the non-disclosure issue, and other issues like unfair contract terms and insurers’ conduct.

More information on the insurance law review can be found here.