Monthly Archives: January 2014

2014 is the year to keep the bastards honest.

The Building Act 2014 outlines in Schedule 1 building work which is able to be carried out without the need for a building consent. Exemption (k) requires a Territorial Authority to grant an exemption if the building is unlikely to be carried out otherwise than in accordance with the building code or if carried out otherwise than in accordance with the building code, is unlikely to endanger people or any building, whether on the same land or on other property.
On a 12 hectare rural property in the jurisdiction of Tasman District Council a resident applied to erect a second hand greenhouse consisting of steel posts and hoops supporting a clear film. An engineer’s analysis of the structure states that under serviceability limit state wind loading the structure is adequate. At ultimate limit state loading there is a significant possibility of localised failure (Hoops buckling, post failure or greenhouse film ripping or pulling away) If any of these failures occur the repairs are easy and straightforward. The Engineer closes by saying “Given the structure is lightweight, easily repaired and unlikely to be occupied during extreme wind events, it is our opinion that the structure may be considered low risk and presents little danger to people or property if re constructed as proposed. ”
Cherie Newman the Senior Building Consent Officer rejected the application for Schedule 1 (k) stating The building is commercial and requires a consent (Compliance with the New Zealand Building Code (NZBC) clause C ‘Protection form Fire’ will be addressed with the building consent) and the engineer states there is a significant possibility of localised failure in some structural members. ”
The Building Act 2004 does not categorically state that all commercial buildings need to be consented. Schedule 1 allows some commercial building work without a consent and exemption (k) does not exclude commercial buildings from it decision. So the fact that the Council has a policy of requiring ALL commercial buildings to be consented is over and above the requirements of the Building Act. And to pull 1 part sentence out of a supporting report and ignoring the rest shows a complete lock of willingness to do their jobs as required by the Building Act. They are placing themselves above the Act and above the law.
They have not addressed or made either decision they need to have made. The possibility of localised failure does not in and of itself mean the building does not comply with the structural requirements of the code. the code requires building with only general repair and maintenance to last either 5, 15 or 50 years. The steel structure needs only last 5 years under the code. If under extreme events a few hoops buckle, the building will be still stand as the failure of all hoops is extremely unlikely. And if the film tears away, it alleviates all strain on the structure.
If a person was under the buckling hoop, the film collapsing on top of them will not injure them If it blows away and hits the nearest building, a house 320m, the house will not suffer any damage. It is inconceivable that any honest person with even a modicum of common sense could state the building poses a threat to persons or property.
But Tasman District Council are so hungry for their fingers in the pie, that they abrogate their responsibility for the allmighty dollar.
So how do we keep the bastards honest? A s the Schedule 1 decision is a Territorial Authority function, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Building and Housing division do not accept complaint. We will have to lodge an official complaint with the Local Government ombudsman to have the illegal predetermined decision that all commercial buildings need a consent to be reversed as well as TDC censured for failure to perform their duties.
To have any chance of the decision being reversed, a determination could be lodged. But the cost is $287.50 and my question is why should the industry pay to keep the Councils honest? If a determination goes against a Council, there should be an avenue for the Council to penalised and the fee returned to the applicant. The public do not pay the police to investigate a crime against them so if the Council are to be guided to change their practises, a punishment system needs to be introduced.
What makes the above application completely unacceptable is that this is the second time it has been rejected. the first time it was rejected without explanation, and when pressed for the decision to be explained, Ms Newman was not able to do so. Her supervisor conceded they had not met their responsibilities and the application could be re made. he also concede that it was difficult to see how failure of the building could endanger people or property. This was off the record apparently.
But for Ms Newman to fail twice for the same applications leads one to question her competence.
We will keep you informed as to the outcome of the complaint. And we ask that if you know of situations where the Councils do not perform their duties as outlined by the Act, flick us an email.


Good Morning. The New Zealand Construction Industry faces a lot of pressures. It returns the same as the Agriculture Industry but has twice as many participants. It is 30% more expensive to build a house in New Zealand than Australia for no greater quality. The process is disjointed and time delayed simply because no one wants to take responsibility for their work. It is an industry which is rife with bum covering , which does nothing nut delays and adds expense.
I have worked on both the Bureaucratic and private enterprise side of the counter and will provide an no holds barred expose into the industry and how it can be improved. Hopefully this will help you navigate the mine field that is building you house, the largest item most of you will buy.
And hopefully industry participants will take up the cudgels of the information provided in this blog and lead the industry into the change that is needed. Because if the people working int he industry do not make the changes for a better industry, the shiny bums policy people in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will. And they have no practical experience at all.