BLUE Haven Pools is appealing a tribunal order to pay a Tea Gardens woman nearly $95,000 damages after a contract dispute that allegedly included a company representative forcing his way into her home.
Christine Maloney signed a contract with Blue Haven for nearly $50,000 in January, 2016 to build an in-ground pool. But work ceased after the first day of excavation in July, 2016 when water inundated the site.
More than two years later, and after a protracted dispute between Ms Maloney and Blue Haven over $79,000 in major works to complete the project, police were called after an incident at Ms Maloney's home.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found a Blue Haven representative "forced his way into Ms Maloney's home" at 8.40pm on August 5, 2018 and placed a $15,000 cheque on a hallway table. The money represented the balance owing to her under the contract for the pool project.
"Ms Maloney did not accept the cheque and it was returned to the bank following intervention by NSW Police," the tribunal noted.
A Blue Haven spokesperson said its appeal against the tribunal decision would include strongly denying the allegation a company representative forced his way into Ms Maloney's home and appealing the tribunal's finding it occurred. The spokesperson confirmed police were called but no charges were laid.
The tribunal was told Blue Haven received an engineering report weeks before excavations started warning the work was within the theoretical zone of influence of two adjoining properties and shoring was necessary.
Ms Maloney complained to the tribunal after Blue Haven said it would build the pool if she paid an additional $79,000 for major works, including sheet piling, a dewatering system and underpinning of a section of the site after excavation work ceased.
She argued a change to the standard contract noting work under certain scenarios was "included" in the contract price meant she was not liable for the works.
The tribunal found Blue Haven was liable to pay after noting that by altering the standard contract "the risk was shifted from Ms Maloney to Blue Haven".
"Whilst this was an alteration allegedly made at the request of Ms Maloney, it was agreed to by Blue Haven's representative who stated that he had assessed the risk and was satisfied that it was in order for the alteration to be made," the tribunal found.
"The evidence disclosed that the representative was an experienced salesperson, and Blue Haven itself has many years of experience in constructing pools, including in the Tea Gardens area."
The tribunal found Blue Haven had estimated the cost of shoring and dewatering in the contract price but had not included the expensive cost of sheet piling in its internal calculations.
It found Ms Maloney was entitled to believe Blue Haven no longer intended to be bound by the pool contract because "Blue Haven's actions in entering the application's home, without her consent and placing a cheque in the hallway is unequivocal".
The tribunal rejected Ms Maloney's claim for $182,000 damages, including another company's $139,000 quote for the pool, and ordered Blue Haven Pools to pay her $94,000.
The $94,000 included more than $73,000 for sheet piling and dewatering works and the balance of money already paid by Ms Maloney to Blue Haven.
A Blue Haven spokesperson declined to comment but confirmed an appeal against the tribunal decision.