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The Walder's are having trouble with their house relocation

The Lismore App

Simon Mumford

01 July 2024, 9:02 PM

The Walder's are having trouble with their house relocation

The Lismore App met the Walder's and the Kilburn's on May 29 to chat about their flood journey so far and their upcoming house relocation to Modanville. You can read that story by clicking this link the Walder's story.

Ben and Stacey Walder moved their house on June 4 through a Brisbane company. Stacey said in an email, "Our roof and stumps for the house will be finished on Monday. Cross bracing Monday and hopefully completed by Tuesday. Septic will be in by Thursday, and hopefully, electricity will be connected to the house by Friday."

Stacey was referring to the week of June 10 to 14.

A trip to Modanville last Thursday, expecting to see a house almost ready to move into, revealed a totally different story.

Ben and Stacey have endured further delays and damage to their house that was through no fault of their own, and continue to live in two caravans and a tiny home.

Some three and a half weeks after the house was moved, employees from Mackay and Sons were working on finalising the move.

Ben said their contract stated that the house removal work was to be finished in five days, but there was a delay, so it should have been six days.

"Normally, it would be like five days, for when the weather's dry and the ground is dry. But we were still wet. We were walking around here with mud up to your ankles. And, that wasn't in the wet section; that was in the dry section."

After the sixth day, the work was still not complete, and Ben was told, "We'll be back when we can to fix it". That is to finish the house restoration that will allow Ben and Stacey to begin the internal fit-out so they can move in. At that stage, Mackay and Sons had not fulfilled their contract.

"They came back three weeks later. They arrived last Tuesday and will work today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) to finish the work. They still have to finish the front deck and seal it properly."

While the delay was not ideal, nor was the damage to the ceilings in the house.

The contract states that 'minor damage' will not be repaired. The damage in the photo above was deemed minor by Mackay and Sons, so the repair work will need to be completed by Ben and Stacey.

When asked if he would deem it minor, Ben said, "No, I wouldn't. In the bedrooms, yes, that's minor because they've just moved. But where the main ceiling is, I wouldn't deem it minor."

There were also some water stains in other rooms when the house was left without a tarp covering the roof, and it rained overnight.

"I had seen what was coming, and I said, it's going to rain, and they said no it's not, it's all going to be good. It drifted away and then came back that night."

"We had our kitchen ceilings all go brown, so my wife got in there and started cleaning those off. And, then we got some other areas and just cleaned it off. The next day, they put the tarp on to cover it all.

What that means is that there is more cost and time to Ben and Stacey as they look to complete the job. Luckily, Ben is a former farmer who learned a lot of handyman skills.

"When you live an hour and a half away from the nearest shops, you learn to fix things yourself," Ben said, "To get a plumber or a chippy to come out was really expensive because of the drive."

Those skills have saved Ben and Stacey an estimated $60,000 and keeps them on their buyback budget to complete the relocation. If they had to get trades in, they would need to increase their mortgage.

"We had a budget of $180,000, and we'll come close to that. If I sat down and nutted out everything that we've done, we'll probably be over $180,000. By the time we put our extra money into buying things so we can move in."

It has been a long journey for the Walder's. They have virtually pioneered the way for other people and families to have an easier journey when dealing with house buyback details through the NSW Reconstruction Authority (NSWRA) and their house relocation. You certainly wish them a run of good luck after two and a half years of trauma and struggle.

When will this journey end and the Walder's can sit on their balcony with a bottle of champagne toasting their new house in Modanville?

"Well, now it's been pushed back, but I reckon by the beginning of August because I'm going back to my other work in August. I've taken long service leave off, 10 weeks."

In any normal life, you take your long service leave to have an extended holiday, usually overseas. However, for the Walder's, it was working on creating a new life on flood-free land at Modanville.

The Lismore App contacted Mackay and Sons House Removals to tell their side of the story. However, by the time this story was published, no response had been received.

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