New owner ‘camping’ in award-winning home in battle over a broken boiler

It was the seaside home that won architectural awards, but now protest signs in the front garden reveal a legal stoush between its buyer and seller.

Jayne Bowden bought her home in Sumner, Christchurch, for $1.6 million in November last year, but she said the purchase turned sour once she took possession.

The 1938 Menzies St home became a local landmark after owners and architects Dan and Kate Sullivan renovated the house. The project later won the major renovation prize at the NZIA Architecture Awards, and two Gold Pins at the Best Awards in 2020.

But for 50 days and counting after moving in, Bowden has had no hot water and compromised heating because the boiler does not work.

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“We either have to boil an electric jug several times to fill a bucket of water to wash in or go elsewhere to wash, shower, keep warm and eat… We are now simply camping in our home.”

Frustrated that the issue hasn’t been resolved, Bowden erected large signs outside her home counting the number of days since she has had “no hot water, no heating, stuffed boiler”.

The boiler installer who did not want to be named, confirmed that several repairs were needed.

The new owner of a $1.6m Sumner home has gone public with her fury over its broken boiler.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

The new owner of a $1.6m Sumner home has gone public with her fury over its broken boiler.

However, getting the problems fixed has stalled due to protracted discussions between Bowden’s lawyer and the Sullivans’ lawyer.

Both the Sullivans and real estate agent Nick Cowdy declined to comment on the conflict, as did the Sullivans’ lawyer.

Bowden said she had been assured the repairs would be done shortly after possession date in mid-March, and paid for by the Sullivans.

In a text message to Bowden on the morning of a pre-inspection of the property, two days before she took possession, Kate Sullivan texted her to say the boiler washers had been replaced “and all is working”.

During the pre-inspection, Bowden said Dan Sullivan also told her the gas boiler was now fully operational.

Homeowner Jayne Bowden says the bottom line is she needs a home that's fit for habitation.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Homeowner Jayne Bowden says the bottom line is she needs a home that’s fit for habitation.

However, seven weeks on, the boiler remains broken.

Bowden received correspondence from the Sullivans’ lawyer which said the boiler had perished washers, a leaking expansion tank and a loss of pressure in the solar system.

The correspondence also said a boiler repairman had been waiting on washers to come from Germany for six weeks.

The kitchen inside the architecturally-designed home.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

The kitchen inside the architecturally-designed home.

The parties have been unable to agree on what to do next.

Bowden said she wanted the boiler fixed or replaced, and was pursuing several other issues with the house.

She was angry her legal bills continued to mount, while she was reduced to “camping” in her own home.

“The bottom line is I need a house that is fit for habitation.”

Bowden has had no hot water since moving into her $1.6 million home and is showering at neighbors' homes.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Bowden has had no hot water since moving into her $1.6 million home and is showering at neighbors’ homes.

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