Colleen Dicks Project
CASE STUDY: Colleen Dicks Home Rebuild Project
Latest Update! Colleen's home is finished and was revealed on TVNZ's Close Up Programme on Thursday night, 10th February, 2011 at 7pm and given to Colleen. Watch it here!
The story of Colleen Dicks and her dear little house in Hobsonville could certainly fit the definition of a saga: the trusting innocent is pitted against wily professionals, a safe house that descends into the stuff of nightmare with leaks and mould and, eventually, unliveable conditions; court cases that drag on and on, ending in nail-biting tension when defeat is nearly snatched from the jaws of victory.
But eventually, as with all good sagas, there come tales of redemption and reward, knights in shining armour and, finally, a new, warm, safe house for the feisty heroine, Colleen.
Some might see retired teacher Colleen’s leaky house saga, which culminated in her winning a $250,000 judgement against Waitakere City Council in January 2007 after a four year battle, like that.
Battleweary Colleen is a little more circumspect. “It has been a long time living out of a wardrobe,” she says. “I can only say that I feel extremely grateful to the people who have helped me out, but I am still extraordinarily angry that the situation arose.”
The turnaround in Colleen’s fortunes happened after her leaky house win hit the papers when the High Court awarded her compensation and costs. However, in the months that followed Colleen waited while Waitakere’s risk insurers, anxious about the precedence this would set with councils around the country, debated whether to appeal the decision.
At the same time, Colleen learned that nearly $200,000 of costs had been racked up by her lawyers and their experts. Her so-called win would leave her with no actual funds to re-build her house. Around this time John Gray stepped up to help. He had been championing the leaky homes battle through his action group, but was building up an organisation with a wider brief to help homeowners, the Home Owners and Buyers Association of New Zealand Incorporated (HOBANZ).