Thursday, July 07, 2005

Architect goes into liquidation

Aaron gave me the news that Auckland architect Richard Priest Architects Ltd have gone into liquidation. I don't know the sad details, but I'm not surprised since Richard was architect for one of the 'poster boy' projects of leaky homes, the Redwood Group shoeboxes in Mt Eden opposite the Horse and Trap, whose rotting deck timbers are pictured left.

The deck timbers you see in the picture, the bearers, are cantilevered out to support the decks; they sit out in the weather, and they were installed with no treatment whatsoever to allow them to last in that exposed situation. And they didn't. Barely six months passed before the first problems were apparent. On a project of such size, such problems multiply. Alas poor Richard.

The odd thing is that Richard himself knows better than this. Some years ago when I still swung a hammer, the builder I swung it for used Richard's plans regularly because they were tight, well-drawn and economical, and he clearly knew what he was doing. By the time he was designing these shoeboxes however his constructional muse seemed to have left left him, or at least left his office. I suspect it was boom time in the Priest offices back back then and direct control of such things was passed to others, in particular to some young architecture graduates I knew who were working then in his rapidly-expanded offices -- and like all graduates from Auckland's lack-lustre school they barely knew a tanalised joist from a hole in the ground, which is where their ignorance has left Richard Priest Architects Ltd.

There are a couple of ironies here. The first is that the history of buildings such as this one above is why the new Building Act will soon be making it compulsory to use licensed architects and licensed builders. Have another look at that photo above and remind yourself that a registered architect drew that up, and a Master Builder built it; and wonder how, pray tell, is licensing going to work when registration and 'master-buildering' clearly doesn't?

The second irony is that, despite the horrific looking pictures, the units themselves are actually very cheap to repair -- in fact, I understand a chap is currently buying up units in the development, repairing them cheaply but professionally, and then onselling them at a small profit. Thus does the market fix such problems. The irony is that the units are not cheap to repair when the government's Weathertight Homes Resolution Inquisition gets involved -- the only ones who win then are the lawyers. Thus does the government hinder the fixing of such problems.

I'll write soon on the problem itself. In the meantime, stay away from lawyers.

[UPDATE: Bob Dey has the news that Richard Priest Architects Ltd went into voluntary liquidation on 14 June, are still solvent, and that Richard is now practicing with Susan Hillery as Hillery Priest Architecture Ltd as of last August. Same website as Richard Priest Architects Ltd, but no longer an NZIA accredited practice. RPAL still is, however. ]

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Blogger Mark said...

I sincerely believe all architects should have to serve a four-year stint on my end of a hammer, as you did, before being allowed to graduate. It would alleviate a huge number of problems we encounter on a weekly basis.

7/10/2005 06:15:00 pm  

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