Monday, 16 February 2009

Wimpianson outlines a dimmer future for builders

Good old Maurice Williamson.  Spurned by his leader, unwanted in the Key Cabinet, sacked from the transport portfolio for "telling it like it is," Wimpianson has been left to till the unfertile fields of the Building portfolio, where  he's clearly been putting his "imagination" and "free market credentials" to work in striking out for a brighter future for the building industry.

This, by the way, is irony.  When Williamson and Nick Smith were appointed to the portfolios of Building and the RMA respectively, I pointed out that neither of these two either understands or is even interested in the real and serious problems with the two Acts over which they now preside, and consequently far from expecting to see any genuine building reform, all that could be expected from these two was disappointment.  

I hate it when I’m right.

Wimpianson says today he wants to "shake up" the Building Act.  He's promising a "review" of the Act that would be "a multi-pronged piece of work" – a piece of work that that would “examine possible legislative changes” that include “licensing of builders” – most of whom are already out of work -- and “the accreditation of specific building materials.”

"We don't know the answers," says Wimpianson in unwittingly re-releasing the Clark Government’s building policy.  Admitting he doesn’t know the the answers is in fact the only thing here he's got right.

Consider: the vast majority of leaking homes, particularly the large scale examples, were build by Master Builders and drawn up by Registered Architects.  Did that save the home owners?

Consider: the largest proportion of building materials that have been implicated in leaking homes were accredited by the government's two building bureaucracies, BRANZ and the BIA, and installed in most cases by builders who followed the details mandated by the manufacturers and by those two august bodies (the latter of which has now disappeared like the fly-by-night outfit Wimpianson suggests builders must be).  But have those building materials manufacturers felt any legal heat?  Have those two government bodies fronted up?  Did accreditation of these materials by BRANZ and the BIA save home owners?

Which means that Wimpianson's "multi-pronged approach" shows all the imagination of a concrete block, and the same grasp of his portfolio that Sitiveni Sivivatu showed with the ball on Saturday night.

Wimpianson complains about an industry where all one needs is "a ute, a dog and a cellphone" to become a builder.  Fine words from a man who can’t even make it in a “profession” where all it takes is a cheap suit, a shit-eating smile and an ability to hold up a sign the right way up.


And people say I shouldn't use words like "moron" to describe the members of this National-led government ...


  1. "Consider: the vast majority of leaking homes, particularly the large scale examples, were build by Master Builders and drawn up by Registered Architects. Did that save the home owners?".....YES, AND THE INCOMPETENT ARCHITECTS WILL AUTOMATICALLY BECOME LICENSED UNDER THE AGREEMENT REACHED BY LOBBYING BETWEEN THE THEIR COLLECTIVE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BODY AND THE GOVERNMENT. .....THE CONSUMER MUST NOW BE VERY REASSURED THAT THE SAME PROBLEMS WON'T ARISE AGAIN!!

  2. I think the reason govt department love this 'multi-pronged' approach to this is because it sounds really thorough. However the prongs are cleverly designed to bypass the important issues and skewer anyone involved in the industry.

  3. PC - I'm not disagreeing, but I'm interested in the sources you use to posit that the vast majority of leaking homes were drawn up by registered architects.

    My own understanding, which is only an approximate one, is that the biggest problem sector was/is spec development of low-cost housing - largely design/build, which as you and I both know is primarily the domain of the draughtie.

    Still, very interested to see credible information which indicates otherwise.


  4. All the political waffle in the world will not address the central cause of the so-called systemic failure that lead to the leaky building crisis.

    The central cause: a total lack of personal responsibility and an ability to escape the consequences of legal liability. By that I mean phoenix building companies, insolvent or impecunious draftsmen, architects and sub-trades, developers several companies away from being hands-on and so on.

    The solution is to encourage personal responsibility and/or liability on every party involved in a building project. To achieve that, either require serious bonds held for a period of time after the project, or have every participant face the prospect of a bit of jail time. That ought to get every one in the process focused on their professional responsibilities or the workmanship.

    No amount of bureaucratic meddling such as “registration”, “multi-prongs”, “reviews”, “shake-ups” and other waffle will solve the problem as quickly as a bit of personal responsibility and consequent liability will.

  5. Hi Den,

    "...particularly the large scale examples..."

    Of the large scale examples I've seen, ALL of them were designed by registered architects.

    Eden One and Two.
    Brett Ave, Takapuna.
    Ponsonby Gardens.
    West End in Grey Lynn.
    The Grange at Albany.
    Marion Square.

    The Brett Ave project is just one of many that faced similar legal hurdles in bringing BRANZ and the BIA to account. From the NZ Herald story:

    "...[the owners'] attempts to sue the Government over its role in the building disaster have largely failed.

    Justice Marion Frater struck out their claims against the former Building Industry Authority but allowed some action against the Building Research Association - both widely blamed for the leaky building crisis.

    The Struthers' case named a string of defendants...

    Justice Frater said the case dated back to 1997 when the Struthers engaged architects to design a large house on their beachfront property.

    But all the hallmarks of a leaky building were involved: untreated kiln-dried timber wall framing, clad in Hardibacker fibre cement sheet coated with Duraplast reinforced plaster. The council issued a consent for building work but, by 2001, a significant amount of moisture had entered the timber framing, causing it to rot.

    The Struthers claimed for the cost of the repairs, loss of the house during the months it took to fix, loss of market value, the cost of professional fees, aggravated and punitive damages. The BIA and BRANZ sought to be struck out from the action, with Crown Law acting for the BIA and Julian Miles QC acting for BRANZ.

    The Struthers argued that the BIA set the rules and BRANZ tested the building materials. Both owed them a duty of care yet were negligent. But Justice Frater cited the Court of Appeals decision to strike out the BIA as a party to action on the multi-unit Sacramento apartments in Botany Town Centre.

    Mr Miles argued BRANZ could not force the industry to accept the building systems it appraised and the organisation had no supervisory or enforcement powers. {And apparently no duty of care.]

    Justice Frater allowed the strike-out application against the BIA but allowed the Struthers time to amend their statement of claim against BRANZ.

  6. Rick Prick:

    Your 'suggestions,' Mr Prick, looks more like it would be a lynching of the innocent than a harvesting of the guilty.

    But I doubt that bothers you.


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