WALLS in some flood-hit Yenda homes are literally "cracking up" amid claims of shoddy workmanship and cost cutting from insurance companies.
Just when they thought they could return home and resume some semblance of a normal life, a number of Yenda flood victims have told The Area News cracks are beginning to appear in newly-repaired walls of their homes.
But insurance companies "cutting corners" in a bid to save dollars and have houses repaired more quickly have been blamed for the damage, which is only now becoming apparent.
One local building contractor, who did not wish to be named, initially took on four homes at Yenda, which took him six months to complete.
However, he said some builders hired by insurance companies had been contracted to complete 25 to 30 homes in the same space of time.
"They're not doing the prep work in the first place and they're passing the buck back to the weather, saying that's what's caused the new damage," the builder said.
"But I've repaired four houses out there and not seen so much as a hairline crack.
"It's nothing to do with the soil conditions - it's just really poor workmanship."
The builder said many local tradesmen, including himself, had been bypassed by insurance companies in favour of interstate companies but he could not understand why.
"It makes me irate - they say we're dearer but we're not," he said.
"These guys are just cutting corners and confusing owners - it's just wrong."
He said in many homes, the contractors would cut sheets of gyprock in half, rather than replacing the whole sheet, or cut architraves halfway up the wall and only replaced what had been water damaged.
Yenda resident Rita Lewis stayed in her flood-ravaged Myall Park Road home throughout the repair work, living through construction, cold and a severe mould infestation.
Now, Mrs Lewis has noticed cracks appear around the tops of some of her exterior walls - so big the daylight shines through - and the cornices are also coming away.
But her insurance company, Apia, said because the damage could have been pre-existing, they would not cover it.
"They told me I need photos to prove the cracks weren't there before the floods - but who has photos of their bedroom walls?" Mrs Lewis said.
"They didn't even replace my cupboards, my ensuite is a mess - they didn't even take out the walls in the bathroom that were mouldy, they just treated them and said they'd killed it but I reckon I can still smell it."
Despite paying $2000 per year in insurance, Mrs Lewis has had to apply to the government in an effort to have her home properly repaired.
"It took eight months before they sent anyone out to me and I'm still waiting to see what's going to happen," she said.
"I've had enough."
Apia Insurance spokesman David Skapinker said the company had helped many people get back into their homes following the devastating floods.
"Where there may be doubt over whether damage to a home was caused by a flood or if it was pre-existing, we will often call in an independent expert, such as an engineer, to provide advice to help us make our decision," Mr Skapinker said.
"Should any of our customers be dissatisfied with the outcome of their claim, we recommend they take advantage of the comprehensive dispute resolution we have in place, including the Financial Ombudsman Service, whose independent decisions are binding upon insurers."