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Wednesday Oct 01, 2014

Slow property renovations anger neighbours

North Westville residents are calling on eThekwini Municipality to come down hard on a home-owner who has taken 12 years to fix up his house.

The North Westville property under renovation

Dr Cholaram Maharaj bought the house in the early 2000s after it was sold following severe flood damage.

In 2002 he started restoration work, which included adding a second storey and a garage for two cars, but has never finished the job.

Instead the house has become an eyesore for neighbours and was for a time occupied by vagrants and criminals, they say.

'Strange people come and go and we've had to constantly upgrade our security systems because other houses were suddenly broken into and the police found the burglars in there,' said neighbour Eric Bell.

Bell said the Rosebank Chase Orderly Committee had been trying to get Maharaj 'to make up his mind about the place for years'.

They want him to finish or demolish it, as it was the 'first disgusting thing you see as you come into a very distinguished neighbourhood'.

When The Mercury visited the site it found four people living in the house.

Phumulani Khaba said he moved in with his wife three months ago and was responsible for cleaning the yard.

Hassim Osman Bux said he was hired to plaster the walls. 'My wife and I moved in about three months ago but I haven't done any work since, because the owner hasn't delivered the material.'

A tour of the house revealed walls cracked from flood and fire damage.

Bell, who also works as a property inspector, said it appeared as if the house was built without plans because the ceilings were below the required height and most of the walls were off-square.

Maharaj disputed this, saying that he had submitted deviation plans to the municipality but said the plans were later rejected and he was yet to resubmit them.

'I admit the progress has been slow but that's because I'm managing the project myself and I've had a lot of problems with builders coming in and not completing the job,' he said.

He said he also did not have electricity pending the approval of the plans by the municipality.

He said eThekwini's building inspectors had visited the property and they were happy with progress.

Tozi Mthethwa, an eThekwini spokeswoman, said the city had conducted an inspection and a legal letter had been sent to the owners, informing them that the following items needed to be complied with:

  • Only security personnel are permitted on site. Families with children are forbidden.

  • Suitable sanitary facilities must be provided.

  • Noise levels emanating from the site after hours must be at a reasonable level in terms of the Environmental Health Bylaws (max 85 decibels).

  • Deviation plan to be resubmitted within 30 days.

  • Building work to be completed in terms of the approvals granted within four months and a certificate of occupancy must be issued.

    The Mercury

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