SINGAPORE - The developer of a $14 million Sentosa Cove waterfront villa that was ridden with defects has been ordered by the High Court to pay $1.3 million in damages to the owner of the house.
The sum awarded to home owner Thio Keng Thay comprised nearly $876,000 for the costs of hiring a contractor to rectify the defects, $297,500 for the costs of fixing two lifts in the house, and about $ 135,000 for the costs of hiring third parties to investigate the defects.
High Court judge Lee Seiu Kin rejected Mr Thio's claim of about $868,000 for loss of use of the property from March 2012, when he took possession of the house, until May 2015, when his contractor completed the repairs.
In a written judgment on Thursday (March 31), Justice Lee rejected arguments by developer Sandy Island, which is part of the YTL Group, that it should not have to pay any damages to Mr Thio for rectification works.
Mr Thio, the former deputy managing director of Malaysia Dairy Industries, had sued the developer in 2016.
The businessman, who was represented by Mr Daniel Cai, said that the house, a two-storey villa with an attic and basement, had numerous flaws including rainwater seeping and flowing into the house.
He also said that the passenger lift and car lift on the property were unsafe.
In 2019, the High Court ruled that Mr Thio was entitled to claim damages from the developer, but the quantum he can recover was reduced owing to his "unreasonable" actions in denying access to the developer to fix the defects.
This was upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2020.
In the assessment of damages, Sandy Island argued that even though it was found to be liable, Mr Thio was only entitled to recover what it would have cost the developer to fix the defects.
The developer, which admitted to more than 200 of the 492 defects alleged by Mr Thio, said that it would have been able to fix them at no cost.
Sandy Island argued that Mr Thio had acted unreasonably and failed to mitigate his losses in denying access to the property.
Justice Lee agreed that had Mr Thio granted access to his house, the admitted defects would have been repaired by the developer or its contractors, which would have borne the costs in accordance with the contract.
The judge said Mr Thio was only entitled to recover the sum of money he would have incurred had he allowed the developer to enter the property to carry out the repairs for those defects.
"However, the defendant did not exhibit that contract nor produce any evidence of the sum that it would have incurred (whether zero or otherwise) to repair the admitted defects," said the judge.
Justice Lee therefore found that the developer has not proven that Mr Thio had failed to mitigate damages.
Credit: Straits Times