Tag Archives: Council Bully

Nothing has changed

Prior to 1992, the rules which governed building was more than 70 different Council by laws system. What was allowed in one council was not allowed in another and architects and builders were continually frustrated with the of laws.  Someone had the idea to implement 1 single building code so that there was only 1 set of rules. Unfortunately 1 set of rules has 7 different interpretations by Councils, which is exactly the same situation as the by law system. Councils  have not innovated or improved their performance to offer a single improvement in value or attempt to integrate themselves positively into the greater construction industry.

Nothing has changed because no one is holding the Councils to account. Designers give in to get the consent and builders follow the Plans only to be told by Inspectors it is wrong and have to change it.  Council officials contact the owners to circumvent the designer who actually stands up to the unlawful requests from the bullies. Delays are common at every step of the process whether you in to them or not..

I have heard of Councils stopping the consent and asking for a particular Section Marker  to be used, or windows which were installed in 1995 to be they are designed to an extra high wind zone for a current consent, or they say a Section is wrong and needs to change. (3D software means it is not possible to draw a wrong Section. and it would be if they could accept BIM files and the intelligence to open it and use them. But everything is  pdf and delays.

There is an innate attitude among Building Officers that builders and designers are incompetent and everyone need the Council Builders Officers to keep them honest. New cadets into the industry are told this early on in their training and the myth gets perpetrated forward.  Councils have scared Governments to delay real change would bring efficiency gains in the Building Act to justify their importance. So any chances of the building owners getting real service is non existent.

There is absolutely no chance of things changing. Councils are not part of the building industry, they protecting the ratepayers first and look at the building industry second. They do not offer advice or offer design solution because they do not want the liability. The tell everyone that they know everything to do with the Building Code but have a very warped view heir role in under the Building Act. This attitude means that the is second in their thinking.

Australia has the right thinking. The Councils  issue consents, but private industry does the checking and inspections. Council  is purely a record keeping service. This is where the New Zealand Industry needs to go before it suffers from the cancer that Council thinking is. I have said the industry needs to unite.

Building Inspectors used to have a reputation in the top ten % of careers. Now thefall slgihtly above pedophiles and arsonists. Nick Smith has to open the industry up to private BCAs and get Council out of the picture all together. They do not want the liability that goes with the job and are causing needless delays and costly overruns. Give it to the private enterprise who wants to be there, doing the job and offering real value. And innovation.

Designers can send their Plans to engineers or cladding specialists and who can into it and do directly in the file do their designs. With 2 clicks of the mouse a BIM File is made and is transportable to anyone anywhere who needs view it.

But the vast majority of Councils do not have the expertise or to accept it.  Too much of a cost for the rate payers maybe, the training costs to have someone who can use it may be the reason, but the effect is that they have put themselves outside the industry, outside the governments expectations and are holding the whole industry to ransom.


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.