Couple’s $2.3m lawsuit over tropical dream home

A HIGH profile Port Douglas restaurateur couple claims their dream retirement home has turned into a nightmare amid court allegations of multimillion-dollar defects at the palatial property.

Grahame and Jeanette Wearne, who have owned high end Nautilus Restaurant for almost 20 years, have launched a $2.3 million lawsuit against Far North builder La Spina Homes and award-winning architect Charles Wright in the Cairns Supreme Court.

The hillside mansion overlooking Port Douglas. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE
The hillside mansion overlooking Port Douglas. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE

The elderly couple, who are preparing to retire in Port Douglas after moving from Sydney in 2001, have claimed the Murphy St home atop stunning Flagstaff Hill, which was initially valued at $5.4 million, is riddled with problems.

According to the court documents the defects have devalued the property by $700,000 and include a total redesign and rebuild to the entrance turning circle of the house "as a result of defective design".

Construction began in 2014 and the contract extended through to October 2017, according to the documents, with the build costing just over $3.2 million.

Among the trades allegedly required to fix the problems are electrical, plumbing, rendering, tiling, carpentry, roofing, glazing and plastering.

The documents claimed the Wearnes have already paid just over $85,000 for works.

Restaurant owner Grahame Wearne. Picture: GIZELLE GHIDELLA
Restaurant owner Grahame Wearne. Picture: GIZELLE GHIDELLA

The couple's legal representative said they are also owed $500 per day for damages each day the build was overdue, which on the day the documents were filed had reached $345,000 for 691 days.

The Wearnes are identities in the coastal community, having taken over the restaurant which once hosted a Bill and Hillary Clinton presidential visit.

Architect Mr Wright is also high profile and designed a variety of famed homes and buildings including the "Stamp House" at Cape Tribulation which sold in 2016 for $4 million despite an original asking price of $15 million.

La Spina, a long established local building company, claimed the 2019 FNQ Master Builder House of the Year for renovation on a beachfront Trinity Beach property.

The Cairns Post contacted legal representatives for La Spina and Mr Wright but neither responded by deadline.

A court date is yet to be set.