Thursday, November 12, 2009

LEAKY HOMES, Part 1: The myth of deregulated building

"The building codes of the democracies embody, of course, only what the previous generation knew, or thought they knew, about building...”- Frank Lloyd Wright

If a detailed, factual study were made of all those instances in the history of … industry which have been used by the statists as an indictment of free enterprise and as an argument in favor of a government-controlled economy, it would be found that the actions blamed on businessmen were caused, necessitated, and made possible only by government intervention in business. The evils, popularly ascribed to big industrialists, were not the result of an unregulated industry, but of government power over industry. The villain in the picture was not the businessman, but the legislator, not free enterprise, but government controls.”
- Ayn Rand

THE LEAKY HOMES DEBACLE is costing everyone in the country dearly.  Homes full of mould and misery – builders, designers and contractors fearful of opening their letterbox for fear of a summons -- and “a bill that is likely to top $11.5 billion” to fix it all that is being picked up by ratepayers, by home-owners, and by everyone who’s  got a dollar in their pocket and anyone who ever visited a building site.

It’s a big problem, isn’t it – and a big problem needs a big villain.

The myth persists that the leading villain in the leaky homes debacle was the “light-handed regulation” introduced to the building industry in the early nineties by the National Government, which allowed “alternative solutions” to undermine good professional practice, and cowboy builders and unregistered designers to fly by night and rip off old ladies.

According to this myth, there was once a golden age in which kindly building inspectors and knowledgeable bureaucrats were everywhere, reining in the cowboys, prohibiting shonky practices and banning shoddy building systems – and who are now grasping the nettle to return things to sanity. 

Unfortunately for those who peddle the myth, nothing could be further from the truth. It's a fairy tale.

The fairy tale, however, is everywhere. Its latest appearance was on Leighton Smith’s morning show in the person of John Gray from the Home Owners and Buyers Association, where  he peddled the myth that this “light-handed regulation” is the cause of all the leaky-home misery, along with all the cowboy builders, designers and inspectors it let loose on unsuspecting home-owners.

Unfortunately for the headline writers and Mr Gray, it’s just not true.  In fact it’s almost one-hundred-and-eighty-degrees the opposite of the truth.  It’s a fairy tale erected out of whole cloth

The misery is certainly true,however – and it’s been killing good builders, good designers and unfortunate home-owners.  And let’s not downplay either the misery, or the good intentions of Mr Gray. But the cause of all that misery is not “light-handed regulation,” since that wasn’t the regime under which most of the damage was done then, it’s far from the regime in which the damage is still being done now, and in any case it doesn’t speak to the actual pathology of the problem: what actually allowed water into houses and let them rot.

I’ll talk about the physical causes tomorrow, and on Monday I’ll talk about how the “solutions” set up by government to “fix” the leaky homes problem have conspired instead to make things worse for everyone, including the regulators.  Today I’ll just talk about this myth of light-handed regulation.

110263519_fullFOR A START, JUST think about this: there was a much more light-handed regulatory regime in the early 1910s and 1920s, when most of the villas and bungalows were built for which people now pay huge money – even for “original” examples.  Things couldn’t be more light-handed then, but the disastrous systemic problems now being experienced weren’t in evidence then – not even for the many stucco (solid plaster) buildings like these two on the right still decorating some of our leafiest suburbs.80521246_full

In fact, even in 1982 when I started building, a relatively light-handed regulatory regime was still in existence – even in those Muldoonist times. 

The ‘Bible’ on site was a document called NZ Standard 3604, which back then was about forty pages long; permits took around two weeks at most to process; council inspectors were seen on site around three times maximum – and the thing called a Code Compliance Certificate didn’t even exist. 

The first house I ever worked on, in the leafy suburb of Remuera as it happens, had just  two pages of plans (no details) and each time the inspector arrived it was to discover that my boss had changed something else from the drawings.  Inspector Dumbo eventually just told us to send him a sketch when we’d finished – if we could get around to it.  We never did. The house is still there, still solid.

I tell you that story not because it was unusual, but because it wasn’t. By the time I was building EIFS-clad houses in Mission Bay in 1987, things were no different (and I have to report, these were EIFS-clad houses that had no problems with leaking cladding).  But things were about to change.
Enter the bureaucrats. 

THE BUREAUCRAT WHO BEARS the greatest guilt is a know-nothing called Bill Porteous whose agitation for more building regulation and an “Integrated Building Code” leveraged him into the job as head of the new bureaucracy set up to oversee the building industry, the Building Industry Authority. 

I say “a know-nothing,” and I say that from personal experience, since Porteous was inflicted on me as an alleged construction lecturer in my two years at the Wellington Architecture School in the mid-eighties – where I quickly discovered that what Porteous knew about construction could be written on a very small postcard (a postcard which needed to be folded until it was all sharp corners and stuffed up his arse) and was awfully excited about the idea of an “integrated national building code.”

As you can imagine, we didn’t get on.

That's a sample on the right of just some of the paperwork that accompanied the 'deregulation' of the nineties. The new bureaucracy was of a similar size.

Now if that’s deregulation, then you can call me Norwegian and ship me to Oslo.

Promoted from his job lecturing budding architects how not to build a house, Porteous’s new bureaucracy quickly set about regulating, ahem, “integrating” the building industry, giving increased powers of oversight to councils, giving increasing authority to the bunch of bureaucrats in Porirua known as the Building Research Association of NZ (BRANZ), and putting his new integrated “performance-based” building code into action.

I say “performance-based” building code since that’s what it said right there on the label, but in reality the new code was about as “performance-based” as its near-identical twin, the Resource Management Act – and just as heavy-handed.

Want to build a balustrade?  The new Building Code told you (and still does) how you’re allowed to do it, right down to the size of bolts and the spacing of balusters. Want to specify the timber you’re going to build your house with? The standards specified under the new Building Code told you (and still do) what timber you’re allowed to use where.  Want to install a cladding system? The new Building Code told you (and still does) what hoops you have to jump through before you’re allowed to. 

One of those hoops was (and still is) that the system, item or building material had to have obtained approval from those bureaucrats out at Porirua.  Those bureaucrats at BRANZ.  The next hoop to jump was (and still is) obtaining a building consent from your council -- which now routinely take months rather than weeks to process, and can even take months just to be allowed to submit a consent. And the next hoop was (and still is) to endure an increased number of building inspections from the council -- which these days can easily run into double figures, and that’s before enduring the Sisyphusian and expensive task of trying to be awarded the Holy Grail of the Code Compliance Certificate (a task that now involves lawyers, inspectors and a pile of paperwork from everybody who’s ever visited the building site while construction is in progress.

Now despite Mr Porteous’s certified and gold-plated regulatory scheme, everything failed.  It failed not despite his new heavy-handed regime, but because of it.

JUST TO CONCRETISE WHAT I mean, let’s look at two leading players in the drama : untreated dry-frame timber produced and marketed by the likes of Fletcher’s Origin Timber and Carter Holt Harvey, and James Hardie‘s Harditex – a low-density autoclaved board made with wood pulp and cement used to back monolithic claddings.  Between them, and for reasons I’ll go into tomorrow, these two products account for more than eighty percent of the problems associated with the 7,571 properties registered with the government’s Weathertight Homes Resolution Service (WHRS). You know which houses I mean, don’t you: they’re usually the Mediterranean looking things around the place now covered with tarpaulins and scaffolding.

Without jumping too far ahead to what I’ll say tomorrow, the primary problem found in houses registered with  the government’s WHRS is that James Hardie’s Harditex “system” let water into the houses, and the untreated dry-frame timber they were built with rotted. 

Use of Carter’s and Fletcher’s dry-frame timber in wall framing was allowed because a committee of the New Zealand Standards Authority decided that it should be (and sitting on that committee were representatives of, you guessed it, Carters and Fletchers) and because the boys from BRANZ issued an “appraisal” declaring it to be fit for that purpose.  (Without ticking those boxes, no building materials can be brought to market here in NZ – and as it was then, so it still is now.)

And use of Harditex was allowed because James Hardie prepared a set of details to be used when installing the Harditex system on the outside of your house, and the boys at BRANZ duly issued an appraisal saying that it was fit for that purpose.

Everybody was happy – or at least was prepared to be happy because the process set up by Mr Porteous was working and all these materials had all the necessary ticks from all the nice bureaucrats who had your best interests at heart.  And so everyone set off in complete confidence to build the slums of tomorrow.
  • Registered architects designed Harditex buildings with dryframe using details supplied by James Hardie and approved by BRANZ. 
  • Master builders built Harditex buildings with dryframe using details supplied by James Hardie and approved by BRANZ.
  • Building suppliers were told by both Carters and Fletchers to substitute dryframe for treated timber – and everybody was happy, because Mr Porteous’s regime had declared it to be safe.
  • Building inspectors inspected Harditex buildings built with dryframe using details supplied by James Hardie, and were happy with the work – and delighted that all the details were approved by BRANZ.
  • And home-owners bought Harditex buildings built with dryframe using details supplied by James Hardie and approved by BRANZ.
And everybody was happy. But they’re not so happy nowadays.

The problem wasn’t cowboys or lack of registered or qualified professionals.  Cowboys built a few of the buildings that failed, but cowboys will always be with use, and they weren’t the cause of the 7,571 failures, or of the systemic problems that caused them. Good builders and good architects relied on the process and in good faith they built and designed buildings that failed.  In fact master builders and registered architects built and designed buildings all over the country that failed – one  I’m trying to fix now was designed by a president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, drawn up the son of a former architecture school Dean and built in good faith by registered master builders.

It still failed.

What went wrong was that the details weren’t worth a damn.  The Harditex building system wasn’t worth a damn. Untreated dryframe timber isn’t worth a damn when it’s wet.

But when it comes to sheeting home the blame for all this, it’s not those who are responsible for the materials or their approval who are feeling the heat.

Good builders who relied on James Hardie’s details are being ruined, but it looks to me like James Hardie themselves has been made immune from any responsibility.

Good architects who relied on BRANZ’s approvals are being ruined, but BRANZ themselves have been held by the courts to be immune from any responsibility.

Good home-owners who were told by Bill Porteous’s Building Industry Authority that if what they bought had made it through Mr Porteous’s regulations, were soon surprised to see the government dissolve the Building Industry Authority so that it couldn’t be held legally responsible – and to then see it reborn under a new name, in the same offices, with the same staff, as the Department of Building and Housing.  Different name, different department. “Wasn’t us, honest Guv.”

You’ve heard people damn fly-by-night cowboy operators? Crikey, you’ve never seen ‘fly-by-night’ until you’ve seen the speed with which government departments sidestep their responsibilities.  (You’ve seen it again just this week, haven’t you, this all-care-and-no-responsibility attitude that only a regulatory authority can bring to things, with the news that the Overseas Investment Commission ignored warnings that Cedenco’s owners were crooks, and instead gave them their imprimatur. )

All care and no responsibility – and not so heavy on the care. That’s the ticket for the bureaucracy.

So where is Bill Porteous now?  Bill Porteous has disappeared, and his bureaucracy has disappeared with him – and you and I are left to pick up his pieces.

Where are BRANZ?  BRANZ are still issuing appraisals that councils cling to like drowning men cling to a liferaft – and the courts have declared that BRANZ were not at fault for anything.

Everyone did it, but no-one’s to blame. Turns out you can’t sue these entities.  Turns out the government’s bureaucrats really are  above the law. Turns out that so the consequences of their mistakes and misdirections are now being visited upon the licensed and unlicensed, the registered and the unregistered, the home-owners and the would-be investors, all of whom built and designed and bought houses on the basis that the materials and standards were "certified," and all of whom now suffer the consequence of that false sense of security.

Because it turns out Frank Lloyd Wright was wrong.  Turns out that neither Bill nor BRANZ nor the BIA knew even as much as the previous generation – and they forced that ignorance on us by law.  By Bill’s law.

JamesHardie
And big companies like James Hardie?  When good builders, designers and home-owners who relied on their materials and details are being nailed to the wall, how have they somehow managed to shirk their responsibility?  That’s an excellent question – a question that some good investigative journalist needs to answer.

The Australian government has just bailed out James Hardie to the tune of A$320 million for its responsibilities over asbestos.  Has some similar deal been cooked up over here?  I really do think we should be told. . .

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49 Comments:

Blogger Owen McShane said...

You have forgotten the role of the Smart Growth planners who are the underlying cause. First they drove up the price of land to where land was more than 50% of the total housing package forcing everyone to look for cheap shortcuts in construction.
Then by pushing for high densities on small sites they actually demanded multi units without eaves and with balconies inside the building envelope.
Same pattern in the US where smart growth states have a litany of construction failure.

The use of untreated timber begins in Waitakere with the promotion of "sustainable" building withou the use of nasty chemicals. Waitakere's "sustainable building code" still promotes the use of kiln dried timber to reduce toxicity on the environment.
End result has been real funghi that really are toxic.

11/12/2009 02:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said--and all of it true. Carters and Fletcher's timber had less heart in it than a celery bunch you buy in the supermarket. When it gets wet it looks like rotten celery. Harditex is another tragedy, weetbix with cement instead of milk. I did an alteration to my house and used 'building heart' red pine [rimu] for the bearers and joists. The stuff was harder than bone. The building inspector was in fear of his job for eventually allowing it after me quoting the [then] regulations back to him. Nearby, other houses were going up with Hardycrap, covered with polystyrene fishbox material and plastered over, all compliant with the magic regs. Guess which buildings are now swelling and growing forms of toxic penicillin? Strangely enough the rendered plaster art deco homes with no eaves, parapet walls and internal roofs are still largely sound, seventy years after construction and a lot of them were on totara piles, the only weakness. Old time builders were up to their trade unlike the BIA who are a bunch of muppets. Fletchers and Carter Holt found them pushovers to inveigle their self serving practices into legality.

The whole shower have been protected. They should be flogged. They remind me of the Labour party [and the careerist drones of National]

George

11/12/2009 02:50:00 pm  
Blogger Blair said...

If this is true, it's fucking scandalous. And doubly so, because not only did it happen in the first place, but this is the first time I have seen this explanation in print. It suggests a huge cover-up with a complicit (or lazy) media.

And this cartel is still running the show?

11/12/2009 04:49:00 pm  
Blogger peterquixote said...

Just have to repeat this brilliant comment above
"
Carters and Fletcher's timber had less heart in it than a celery bunch you buy in the supermarket. When it gets wet it looks like rotten celery. Harditex is another tragedy, weetbix with cement instead of milk.

Why is it that ordinary people could see this tragedy coming?.

Now you say above 'Not PC' that
"
James Hardie’s Harditex “system” let water into the houses, and the untreated dry-frame timber they were built with rotted.
"

I have thought till now that the water got in between the planks. That is the planks were overplastered with a cement which could not expand or retract and so cracks were inevitable.

Thanks for the article.

11/12/2009 04:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post PC. I understand insurers were keen to develop a national standard for building as it made their task theoretically more straightforward. Add insurance companies to the indictment sheet.

11/12/2009 05:05:00 pm  
Blogger Owen McShane said...

When I was at Industrialised Building systems in the mid seventies we developed a system using hardiflex planks with spaced joints with neoprene seals behind them and stainless steel screws and the whole sheet pained with two coats of acrylic paint.
I have been using it ever since (and so have others from the team) and the system has never leaked.

One of the merits is that is someone wants to add a room they just unscrew the cladding. I have done this a few time on clients' houses and the wall inside is as dry as a bone.
I am not sure of the difference between Harditech an Hardiflex but Hardiflex is a fine material if you use it properly and with respect. Ivan Juris developed the system. If want I send a few photos of the system at work. Just email me at"
omcshane@wk.planet.gen.nz

Don't underestimate the role of the Greens in promoting "chemical free" wood. It was unholy alliance between the corporates and the greens under the guise of sustainability.
Its about as sustainable as Halle Newstadt the world's most sustainable - or is was until the Berlin Wall came down.

11/12/2009 05:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Sinner said...

to build the slums of tomorrow

And what's wrong with that. Like so many other things, NZ still thinks it can have 1st world housing standards on a 3rd world income.

Welcome to NZ - the slum of tomorrow!

11/12/2009 05:36:00 pm  
Anonymous mawm said...

Great read!

The real issue is 'why do I have to pay for others failing to do due diligence when purchasing a house'? Every house I bought I paid a competent inspector to ensure that it was sound.

Emptor caveat.

11/12/2009 09:09:00 pm  
Anonymous Cambridge Building Materials said...

"LEAKY HOMES, Part 1: The myth of deregulated building"

This has been a good read

11/12/2009 09:44:00 pm  
Blogger Craig Milmine said...

That's a great read PC. Sobering and infuriating at the same time. I'm looking forward to the next two parts.

11/12/2009 11:35:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

For starters PC, as someone who also studied under Bill Porteous I think you are being particularly uncharitable about his construction knowledge. Regardless of your opinion of his links with regulation (and lets face it, anyone with the most tenuous connection to the public sector is already doomed as the vilest lowlife in your eyes) he was a great and an expert in his field (and the school). Run him down all you like for serving the Evil Central Government, but calling him out on his technical expertise is simply unfair. Call him names (and fantasise about stuffing objects up his arse) for his position on building regulation, not for his status as an expert in construction, because you are then holding yourself up as an arbiter of fact there, and in my opinion, your own position is fraught. I'll leave it there.

Let's look at your attack on regulation reform and compliance standards. It is extremely easy to paint BIA/DBH as some sort of bogeyman imposing needlessly stringent (and supposedly ineffective) controls on the masses. But the shift you discuss (to performance-based documentation) was smart. Moving to objectives to be achieved as opposed to prescribing building techniques was smart, and mirrored a move internationally in the same direction.

Some of your examples of how this is overbearing are laughable - take timber treatment for example. The Code prescribes treatment MINIMUMS for various risk areas, and you make it out to sound like this is some sort of unreasonable imposition.

As for BRANZ approving failing details, I haven't heard and can't comment, but would love to see the background information on that - links would be appreciated. Hopefully you will go deeper into this link tomorrow, where you discuss the physical causes behind leaky buildings.

The greatest problem I have with your War On Regulation is that you propose no feasible alternative, although I assume you will articulate this in one of the later posts so will wait with enthusiasm to read it (although I can guess what it will be).

DenMT

PS: You say you delivered documentation for a project in the 80s consisting of two drawings, both plans? No elevations? No sections? What did you do, wave your hands on site or trust everything to the builder?

PPS: Again with regard to your all-out attack on Bill Porteous, remember you are a professional in the industry (I assume you are all up to date with your obligations under the LBP Act) and that this reads as super un-professional. Not the attack on regulation, but the attack on the man as unlearned.

11/13/2009 01:09:00 am  
Blogger sagenz said...

Excellent post. I suggest you email it to all MP's and cc the various institutional villains. This along with an old previous post of yours are the most coherent explanation of the source of this problem I have read anywhere

11/13/2009 06:59:00 am  
Anonymous Gerrit said...

Owen,

"and the whole sheet pained with two coats of acrylic paint."

And therin lies another story. Worked for a paint company back in those heady days and we worked with the the plaster model to formulate correct paints for use on the cladding you describe.

The specifications (and the Branz regulation) called for two coats of HIGH BUILD Acrylic paint over a special sealer (containing PVA type glue resins for binders).

Not just acrylic paint.

High Build acrylic paint is a membrane type flexible coating system. Whereas ordinary acrylic paint cannot bridge any cracks.

One instance that stands out from memory was a building that the fly by night contractor painted with interior acrylic wall paint. All he wanted was to get past the 30 day period to sign off on a completed building.

So yes, sheet home to problem to the manufacturers but lets not shirk the responsibility away from the builders PLUS the architects who specified the systems and who in most cases did not have clerk of works on site to ensure the buildings were build to specification (and the plaster cladding plus coating was correctly applied).

Do architects still employ clerk of works?

11/13/2009 07:44:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Yeah, yeah Den

You can try to rationalise your away out of this all you like. Trouble is that your mates and their moronic ideas caused the disaster. They are scum. Face it.

LGM

11/13/2009 11:02:00 am  
Blogger Crumb said...

Great to see people taking a stand on this at last. Support a Royal Commission about this mess. That could be NZs only hope of resolution.

11/13/2009 08:29:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

LGM: "Trouble is that your mates and their moronic ideas caused the disaster. They are scum. Face it."

A compelling argument, eloquently made. Touché.

DenMT

11/13/2009 10:09:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Den

Try hard not to be so obtuse (difficult for you surely, but just this once, do try).

The point is that you need to face the facts. Your rationalisations and attempts at defending scoundrels, fibbers and assorted rorters is utterly without merit. Why do it? Are you one of them?

Face up to the fact that the plans, grand ideas, administrative systems and actions of your heros was the source, the cause, of the present disaster. They created it. They are the ones responsible. The defense available is that, either they were utterly incompetant (to the point of requiring life support), or they were banal crooks who didn't expect their rorting to create such serious consequences (in which case they deserve to be marched through the streets prior to receiving a right brutal flogging). It is most unfortunate that they are not going to be held accountable for the ruination they dumped on many other people. It is risable how they have been protected and allowed to scuttle away from what they did.

This affair is a clear demonstration of why groups of "experts" and technocrats should never be allowed the power of making or administering regulations over the property, business or lives of other people. Leave other people alone.

Surely, even you can understand that.

LGM

11/14/2009 08:55:00 am  
Anonymous Monsieur said...

The full quote of Frank Lloyd Wright's:
"The building codes of the democracies embody, of course, only what the previous
generation knew or thought about building, and the ensuing generation finds the code a
stumbling block.
"


I blame the building material manufacturers, who designed those cheap, crappy systems.

11/14/2009 10:50:00 am  
Anonymous Gerrit said...

And I blame the architects and specifiers who authorised the shoddy building systems

11/14/2009 11:11:00 am  
Anonymous Politician said...

I blame the buyers for wanting to buy a house, in the first place. They should just rent, perhaps for the rest of their lives. Why buy a house then moan about all the faults its' got.

11/14/2009 01:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a useful article PC, but I totally agree with George and DenMT - you are being grossly unfair in blaming Bill Porteous for the failures (which you identify) of the building material manufacturers and a few staff at BRANZ. Especially as you give no evidence of Porteous' fault (other than his liking for regulation - in your eyes, a cardinal sin ;) ).

As what you would call an extremist leftie, I was absolutely disgusted when the courts absolved BRANZ of any responsibility, and government then quietly rebranded them (reBRANZed them? hoho). This is the extent to which government should pick up the tab, I feel; for the costs of BRANZ failing to properly test and certify materials.

The concept of BRANZ is correct - an impartial agency to test materials that consumers can't afford to and don't have expertise to test. But BRANZ staff clearly fell down in the last shower ... and did so for several decades!

The rest of the cost should mostly fall on Fletchers, Carter Holt Harvey, and James Hardie. And they should be bankrupted, not bailed out, as the Labour capitalist govt of Oz just did.

In fact, the case is very strong here for limited liability to be revoked for such egregious criminal actions. That way, they can't dodge their responsibilities. Of course, same goes for all those in the building trade - architects included. You haven't mentioned the dirty phenomenon of building trades firms closing and reopening under slightly different names to avoid long-term liability for leaky buildings they built... You know, ABC Architects 2007 becomes ABC Architects 2008, etc.

Regulation is necessary for safe buildings, but the regulatory staff must be competent! (and brave, to tackle wrongdoers like James Hardie).

11/14/2009 05:03:00 pm  
Anonymous DenMT said...

LGM: Back up the truck. The 'cause' of the problem in leaky buildings, is of course moisture. The cause of excess moisture in leaky buildings is poor construction technique or material use. Do you disagree?

OK, then we move on up the causal chain... How did we arrive at a point where construction faults occur with a frequency sufficient to warrant it being called a 'disaster'? This is the root of the problem - assigning blame for a systemic failure. If I am interpreting you correctly (and please jump in and right my interpretation should it seem unfair) you place the blame squarely on the shoulders of a nebulously defined group of 'experts and technocrats' who are responsible for writing and maintaining a centrally administered compliance regime for the building industry. This (and I am inferring) could include BRANZ, DBH, all New Zealand's various territorial authorities, and a number of other governmental and non-governmental organisations with influence on policy (NZIA, NZRAB etc).

In a way I can buy it - if fault is to be laid for what appears to be a systemic failure, surely it's the system? The argument goes that BRANZ approved materials that failed, thus the buck stops with them.

Lets reformulate: in an ideal world, with no BRANZ, just a manufacturer of cladding systems, an architect, a certifier and a builder, I decide to have a house built on my plot. I ring my architect, she gets to work, draws up some plans which look OK, but to meet budget she suggests a cheaper cladding system which has recently begun to be imported from Poland, called Poleboard. It looks fine to me, like a knockoff of Titanboard or something, so I give the OK.

The architect is not familiar with Poleboard, but is familiar with similar systems and details up the house as such. I'm not made of money, so she draws typical details, not exhaustive details for every risk area, leaving a lot of interpretation up to the builder. We agree on costs and the package of documents go off to a certifier.

In our alternate universe here, the certifier might be a private certifier (ie not a Council), and obviously has no recourse to a central approvals and testing organisation like BRANZ. He signs off Poleboard and the architects detailing on the basis of similarity with other monolithic systems in general use.

With a spanking new permit in his hand, the architect helps me tendering for a builder. Bill comes in cheapest, and with a seemingly good track record (I even check references). After six months on site, my nice - if somewhat ugly in a weird Eastern European way - new house is done. I move in straight after practical completion.

Two years and nine months later, theres a leak in the ceiling on my ground floor. I ring Builder Bill, worried, he removes the lining on the floor above to reveal some rotting framing (he only used treated framing in parts). Distraught, we look further down on the ground floor, and see that the framing is buggered there too. Water has ponded on the baseplate, being trapped with no draining cavity against the building paper. Further investigation shows that the water got in through a flat roof detail on the upper floor, where the flashing had failed.

Naturally, I am fucking ropable. I spend a couple of hours yelling at Bill, who points out that the building was built to normal standards according to him, and it was the architect who convinced me into having a flat roof with a parapet in the first place.

I turn my ire on the architect - she pulls out a sheaf of Poleboard standard details, pointing to the standard Poleboard flashing which was used in that situation.

Who do I blame? Who's fault is it that my house leaks, and is now buggered? Who pays for the remedial work? How would a BRANZ-like approvals authority have changed the situation?

DenMT

11/15/2009 01:14:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Den

Firstly, let's understand the physical nature of the "Leaky Building Syndrome". In the majority of cases it is build-up of trapped condensation within the structure that results in the troubles. That is, the buildings did not leak (in the sense that they let rain water enter).

Moving on. The arbitary scenario you've provided is short on vital details, specifics, premise, important principles, context etc. Argument by the method of arbitrary scenario (as with argument by analogy) is a great favourite of Kiwis, but such arguments usually rely on critical omissions or rhetorical miracles to arrive at a (most often flawed) conculsion. Typically they are designed to force said conclusion. Such devices decieve. Beware of them.

Nevertheless, with this caution in mind let's consider the scenario provided.

There are some questions to ask.

What contracts did you execute with your architect, your builder, your certifier and your material suppliers? What do the relevant clauses state?

What insurances do these professionals, practioners, suppliers etc. possess? What do the relevant clauses state?

What reference material did these individuals provide you to look over prior to your decision to select them to undertake aspects of a project that you would be funding with your hard earned money? Did you undertake a due diligence on these parties?

What written guarantees did you obtain from each of the parties, prior to project start?

What insurances did you take out to cover disasters and set-backs such as this? What does the master policy or specific terms of your particular policy state?

How was the project structured? What responsibilities were accepted by each party? Who was to specify what? What role was each to play? What responsibility was each to undertake? Who was to make which decisions? What indemnifications were offered and accepted (if any) by you or by another party? Was any of this written down? Were meetings properly minuted, diarised, documented?

If you borrowed money from a bank or finance company to fund the project, what requirments did they impose on the project? What does the loan agreement/ mortgage state? What did you negotiate with them?

These'll do for a start.

If you are going to be placing hundreds of thousands of dollars of your money into the hands of these people you'd be a mug not to have addressed each of the issues above (at the very least).

Always remember, "A fool and his money are easily parted."

LGM

11/15/2009 08:51:00 am  
Anonymous Barry said...

So why are you blaming the regulators when it is obviously only fools who built leaky homes without sufficient contractual and insurance protection?

You have just argued against your own argument for deregulation because you have shown that the responsibility for the leaky homes rests in private individuals in a free market who failed.

Wow.

11/15/2009 09:24:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Barry

You've confused yourself again. Given that you're the guy who thought Harry Potter books were economic texts, that comes as no surprise.

DenMT writes: "Let's reformulate: in an ideal world, with no BRANZ, just a manufacturer of cladding systems, an architect, a certifier and a builder,..."

Den is addressing a situation that may prevail in a free market with no regulatory oversight.

That means no regulators. That means no government interferences. It means that favoured cronies do not receive special priviledges and that same are not protected from the consequences of their decisions and actions by goverment fiat.

Den's scenario is not the same as the situation that operates in New Zealand. In New Zealand there is regulation- plenty of arbitrary regulation. In New Zealand there is government interference in the building industry. Such interferences cause serious distortions. Such interferences led to the "Leaky Homes" disaster. Such distortions granted special protections to those who played causal roles in that disaster- allowing them to evade responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and actions.

In NZ regular market mechanisms for transmitting information, making decisions, setting agreements, distributing specialist tasks, assuming responsibility for consequences and making undertakings are rendered grotesque. They are warped to the point where the industry cannot function properly. The working of the market is frustrated by regulation. Still, the "leaky" buildings met regulation...

Presently the government is erecting yet more regulations and schemes that will result in yet more distortions throughout the economy. This costs of the disaster are set to become a significant burden on other people throughout the country. Here is a case where more-of-the-same is being compulsively prescribed when what is really required is none-of-the-same.

Now what you need to comprehend is the difference between Den's positied ideal world with "no BRANZ, just a manufacturer of cladding systems, an architect, a certifier and a builder etc" and the ruling situation in New Zealand. Understand that I was addressing Den's scenario.

Can you understand that? Or is it all too difficult for you?

Friendly advice. You badly need to improve your reading comprehension skills.

LGM

11/16/2009 07:23:00 am  
Blogger The Tomahawk Kid said...

You are charged good money by inspectors to tell you what they require for your house to comply with their requirements.

You pay them good money to inspect that these requirements have been carried out before they take your money and tick the box.

II blame them! by taking your money They are taking responsibility for this to be carried out to the standards they set.

I more or less built my house myself about 5 years ago - I employed tradesmen I trusted to do the work, and finished it all myself.

My house is as water-tight as a seals bum.

I did not bother with the code of compliance - it was far too demanding and overbearing to comply with.

They started getting fidgity when they found I didnt line the walls with gib-board like everybody else.

I guess I will pay the price if I ever want to sell the place

11/16/2009 03:57:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Tomahawk Kid

The beauty with what you did is that if ever you want to alter the building, or make repairs, or make improvements to it, you know the structure and where everything is first hand.

Oh, and by the way, I doubt that it'll cost you anything that you didn't get the commissars involved.

LGM

11/16/2009 04:11:00 pm  
Blogger The Tomahawk Kid said...

Some pics of my place early on in the construction.

http://the-tomahawk-kid.blogspot.com/2006_04_01_archive.html

Inspectors didnt like the double-skinned duralite on the walls (instead of windows)

They didnt know what to do with their moisture probes when they came to check the framing timber for moisture (it is a metal frame)

Didnt know if Onduline (a corrugated roofing product) was acceptable for interior wall linings.

Didnt like the idea of tar-seal bitumen as a floor covering in the ensuite, or weatherboards as an interior wall lining to name just a few things.

11/16/2009 04:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Barry said...

By asking the Government to cough up for leaky buildings you are being a socialist money grubber wanting innocent taxpayers to pay for your stupidity.

As LGM said if you weren't smart enough to get proper contracts and insurance for your building this is YOUR FAULT.

Nobody else's.

Government inspectors do not provide anyone with guarantees of building quality. They simply check that things are done to a certain standard. That crucially is not an insurance contract.

People are going after councils for negligence. They may win this case but not on the basis that councils guaranteed the build. Councils were idiots but the leaky homes would have happened anyway because people were NOT FORCED to build leaky homes. They did so because they made a HUGE MISTAKE. In the free market mistakes happen and you pay for it and learn.

Don't stry and grubb $$ from the government like a greedy socialist LGM. That is just sad.

If you thought they guaranteed the build. You are short on a few slices.

11/16/2009 05:49:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Barry


Again, try to comprehend what you are reading. It isn't all that hard really.

I was asking Den for further information regarding his scenario. One premise of his scenario is the existence of a free market, absent the interferences of government regulation. Den's scenario is DIFFERENT from the prevailing situation in New Zealand. Try to understand at least that point.

In NZ govt. regulations control how a building is constructed. That includes specific details such as what materials are used, how they are installed and so forth. The regulations also demand that buildings be inspected and approved by specific government appointed bureaucrats empowered to halt a construction project and even order it dismantled. That is critical.

This sort of interference has consequences including what insurances are available, what the specific terms of the master policy will state, what premiums will be struck, what variations can be negotiated (if any), the form of building contracts that are able to be negotiated and executed, what indemnities and guarantees will be made available to any of the parties, the nature and extent of the responsibilities that practitioners and professionals will assume and so on. The relationships between the parties involved in the project, every contracual aspect between them, the modes of doing business, all is affected to the point of grotesque distortion by the presence of government interferences. Can't you understand that?

There is the saying, "You can't contract out of the law." Think on what that means.

Given that approval of various materials and construction techniques were made by government appointed, empowered and owned organisations, given the control exercised over the industry by said government, then it comes as no surprise that the specifics of insurance cover available, the responsibilities assumed by professionals and practioners, the nature of the clauses in any agreement between the various parties, the apportioning of costs etc. were distorted. For example, a builder is not going to agree to assuming responsibility for the consequences of a material certification issue. Nor would his insurer. Take note and think abou it a little.

Time for you to start geting an education (tip: do this BEFORE you try to comment on topics you don't actually know anything about). What you need to do is get hold of a few standard insurance master policies and actually read them. Take a look at what the clauses state. Try asking for variations and see how far you can get. Take note of the nature of what will be accepted and covered and WHAT WILL NOT BE. Then, what you should do is get some of the various contracts used in the industry. Read them. Try to understand the specifics. Check some precedents. Go to a practitioner and ask about whether he'd be willing to assume responsibility for items that a government body has approved. Would he accept liability for government errors and failings? Would he accept responsibility for specialist opinion he did not supply? Find out what is likely to be agreed in some of these contracts and what will definately not be. Learn why.

In other words, go find out about the prevailing situation in NZ. Contrast that with a free market. You'll find the two are NOT the same. Not even close. You'll also find that in many cases the home owner/client was rendered unprotected and vulnerable due to the antics of various government outfits and the antics of the individuals within.

Final point.

You write: "Don't stry and grubb $$ from the government like a greedy socialist LGM."

I have never tried to grab money from the government "like a greedy socialist". Nor have I recommended that action.

Barry, you are a liar.

LGM

11/17/2009 09:15:00 am  
Anonymous Barry said...

LGM I undertand all that. Except you are still confusing certification with insurance. They are completely different.

Insurance my require certification but that is not all it requires.

If a builder used materials which were subsequently faulty then the builder(s) (and architects if necessary) are still liable for their poor choice of materials.

Government inspections do not enforce MAXIMUM rules but rather MINIMUM ones.

Otherwise if LGM's crazy ideas are correct then EVERY house in New Zealand would be leaky. But they aren't. Because there was never anything stopping builders from USING BETTER MATERIALS. Nothing.

The person who didn't choose a builder with a good track record or did not insure their build properly has lost. LOST BIG TIME. But it is nothing to do with government.

If it was government's fault then why are there so many homes that have no problems? Government inspected all those.

It seems you are trying to use the BAD MISTAKE of a few thousand people in a free contracting situation to attack government building regulations.

I would be the first to agree that government building regs are problematic and have been for a long time.

But your argument that they are the cause of leaky buildings is absurd.

They are gonna pay out because they let people down big time by not picking it up.

If they were 100% going to lose in a court case then why are they trying to settle for 30% plus low interest loans? Because they were negligent but that doesn't excuse the FREE MARKET negligence of the people who built the houses.

11/17/2009 02:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BUT therein lies the failure of your argument Barry. The house buyers are not really in a free market. The regulations imposed centrally distort the market, so any participant with in that market cannot be decreed to be a free and willing participant.
People with no knowledge in an area enter into an agreement with someone who purports to have that knowledge, and thus reward them for their efforts/ skills/ knowledge therein. A problem of that central regulation is the distrortion of knowledge taken as bona fide with that which has not been properly tested. The systems agreed upon which were sold to the central regulator (BRANZ) as being of a standard to last in excess of 50years, however the systems/products have failed dismally. Who else should be held accountable for the very failure of the promise of the product (to keep water out), but the manufacturers/ inventors of the failed system?

As is the want of every person who would seek to absolve themselves of the responsibility of their actions have merely sought to pass the burden of blame down the chain. Indeed there are applicators of the systems who were cutting corners, and those agents should be held responsible, but when a system is so flawed that 1 nail out of place absolves a product manufacturer from blame, means there is no inbuilt method to account and compensate for a failure rate, which makes the system flawed from the outset.

BRANZ didn't test the products rigourously enough, and yet passed decrees to unwitting architects that such materials were a OK, when as we all know now, blatantly aren't.
The process of regulation lead to approval of faulty systems of construction, so therefore the regulation is the reason for the failure. The architect and chief agitator for the imposition of those regulations therefore has to large degree caused the problem. Due entirely to the fact the regulations then went on to impose standards whoch don't stand the test of time, resulting in the allowance of failed/ failing systems' approvals. Thus that group/ person should be held accountable, as they started the process. As PC points out the chief architect of that regulation was Porteous. Thus he should be pillored as the father of the crapchild which is the leaky building.
Chase the money honey is something people who want to get to the truth should apply.
Who stands to lose the most if BRANZ were not absolved responsibility?
Answer that one question and you come to the crux of the problem. The Labour Government wanted to push the blame away from themselves, and left the now bastard child in the hands of those who were supposed to enact the duty of care that the regulations implemented. All care no responsibility.
BRANZ = FAIL

11/17/2009 08:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Barry said...

I'm sorry LGM but you really have to stand up to the facts for once.

Now take a breath...

"The [NZ Building] Code does not prescribe construction methods, but gives guidance on how a building and its components must perform as opposed to how the building must be designed and constructed."

Therefore, NO_ONE WAS TOLD BY LAW to use faulty materials.

What DID happen was that BRANZ messed up big time.

But that does not have any relationship to the building code which simply required that buildings be watertight.

It is perfectly legitimate for you to argue that BRANZ should be replaced by a private entity.

But the facts of the situation do not in any way support your argument for an end to the building code.

It is like someone saying "Gee look at the tree it is green - so we should abolish taxes"...don't you think there was a logical causal link missing? Yes.

You also are short on causal links.

11/17/2009 08:50:00 pm  
Anonymous John Richards said...

Couldn't agree more about bringing the manufacturers to task for their part in the leaky building mess. Your argument misses one major point though. It is that "big business" helped write the legislation and therefore shares a significant portion of the blame. I do not, however, share your desire to rid ourselves of building regulations.

11/19/2009 09:22:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Barry

The anonymous contributor is a separate person from me. He makes points that you do need to consider.

Lately, you have been merely arguing for the sake of it or, perhaps, to try to save a bit of ego. Whatever the case, your position has already been completely demolished. You can't slime your way out by playing with words or disjoint rationalisation. Fact is, you have no real experience of what you are attempting to argue about. Is that stupid or what!

Recapping. I asked Den about his scenario. His scenario was formulated around the premise of a free market. That ISN'T what prevails in New Zealand. Given the situation in NZ is one where the government controls and distorts the market (every aspect of the economy actually), the approaches one may choose to employ in a free market are not available or, where they are available in some form, they are distorted by the presence of arbitrary government fiat/regulation/legislation/ authority/ bureaucracy etc. Bear in mind that, in general, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have a practioner, professional, or insurer accept responsibility for government action/inaction/regulatory consequence or failure. Try it and see.

Agreements & contracts & insurance policies are written to comply with govt. requirement or existence. Remember the saying, "You can't contract out of the law." Think carefully on it.

--->

11/19/2009 01:47:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

--->

Moving on. Among other nonsense you asserted: "Government inspections do not enforce MAXIMUM rules but rather MINIMUM ones."

And your proof is what exactly? An out of context quote from an un-cited document! Is that piss poor or what! It's difficult to be civil about such imbecility, let alone charitable. Honestly, you need to do better.

This situation isn't a matter of a minimum standard versus a maximum one (explicit or otherwise), it is a matter of a compulsory standard. The ruling legislation empowers authorities (identified and appointed by government) to set what materials MUST be used and how they MUST be used. For example, in Auckland the Territorial Authority requires that ONLY the materials it approved be utilised in building construction- no exceptions. Further, its inspectors determine how those materials are installed. If the Territorial Authority don't like what they see, they can order construction halted or even require the structure be dismantled. {Do you have any idea what the justification for such draconian powers might be? It is represented as necessary to ensure that buildings are to be safe and fit for purpose!} Think on what that means. Think on the consequences of that explicit threat.

Ultimately there is only one standard that rules and it is theirs. They have the full coercive power of the government backing them. An individual is defenseless against that. Insurers & practitioners etc. are not going to buy into a direct fight with leviathan if they can avoid it. They certainly are not going to do it on someone else's behalf. What they'll do is comply... Compliance- have you ever heard that term? Do you know what it is and how it is practiced? Have you any idea of what it means? Or are you, as usual, arguing from ignorance?

In a free market one is responsible for the consequences of one's actions. In the present case the individuals at BRANZ, various government departments and so forth are held immune from consequences of their decisions and actions. They are protected and placed unreachably above the public. What prevails in NZ is definately not a free market. The remedies that would function in a free market are frustrated- entirely absent, in this case.

BTW, when you've finished with reading the introduction to the Building Code you should get copies of ALL the relevant legislation (there is quite a lot of it) and the by-laws (and a lot of that). Then you should read them. Perhaps you might begin to gain a glimmer of understanding about the situation.

Last points. I do not oppose the use of building codes. What I do oppose, however, is employing coercive means to render a particular code compulsory.

Barry, if you intend to enter the debate, it would pay to address the topic as well as other people's contributions with honesty. Have some integrity.

LGM

11/19/2009 01:48:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

PS The analogy, "It is like someone saying "Gee look at the tree it is green - so we should abolish taxes", does not hold.

If you must employ an analogy to this situation, a more accurate one would be along these lines. "Gee, the tree is rotten. Some of the branches have already fallen and injured people. We should cut the tree down and burn it before it hurts anyone else."

11/19/2009 01:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from Vancouver, Canada. Leaky buildings? Been there, done that.

Were regs the problem? Yes and no. The BC (Building Code) is a minimum standard in all Western nations. It is for life and safety purposes, not component durability or performance. You actually have a comment from one poster here who built his own steel house. Clearly the NZ regs have substantial allowance and are not as compulsory as your rant states.

The best case in your criticism is that land prices affected fixture prices. That explains almost entirely the reason why older homes performed better. When the bulk of capital can go into the fixture, the fixture will be better built. It's an investment. Society was less mobile then as well. Today, with land prices in the stratosphere, servicing the capital on the land is paramount over the quality of the installation.

From what I can tell your regulators approved the use of less costly solutions to building envelopes and framing, using the consumer as a test. Hardie is a great barrier...in Southern California! There were/are market alternatives to arsenic treated lumber. Borates were extensively used until the 1970's when arsenic treatments became standardized in part because of intense lobbying by one industry over another (and cost). Boron is completely superior to arsenic anyway, if at marginally higher cost. Rainscreen solutions are actually mandated by the Code here for Hardie products. I see no mention of that in the NZ dialogue, which I find puzzling.

Lots of bad choices, but blaming government completely misses the main point that the average Joe has no basic understanding of building science. As in a basic capitalist society they rely on specialists (the button maker of Adam Smith). Therefore the average Joe cannot enter into free contracts on a symmetrically informative basis.

How did Canada handle it? Insurance. Surety. Look it up.

11/24/2009 04:03:00 am  
Blogger Canterbury Atheists said...

Hmmm?

So then it was this free-for-all deregulation of the building industry that lead to all these crappy leaking buildings?

Predominately as it just happens Mediterranean style-ones. Perchance they happen to mostly be located in the more affluent suburbs of Auckland and in another giant fluke, seaside locations in The North Island as well.

Strangely leaky homes are not a major issue outside the leafy suburbs of Auckland than say places like Southland, Otago and Westland for example – leading one to think this piece of building-legislation and even ‘the free market’ itself never made it to the lower South Island at all?

I gather ‘the free market’ prefers warmer more humid weather to work properly.

The free market and deregulation also likes metropolitan environments of New Zealand (more Coffee shops and ability to buy beer in green bottles at the pub rather than jugs perhaps?) than rural locations?

During exactly the same period Aucklanders turned their backs on traditional designs all these ‘escape-goat last-man standing’ building-supply companies never bothered marketing their products in the likes of Southland which has received a paltry total of three claims over exactly the same period.

Remarkably in a first for building materials anywhere in the world it was largely Auckland where their products happened to turn to sh*t??

Or are we mainlanders more in-tune with what one needs to build a decent house?

Able to better employ builders that will construct something capable of lasting longer than two decades, purchase the right materials, pay a bit extra to ensure we’ll get a good job done – rather than worrying what the neighbours & other 4 wheel driving mums at school think about the aesthetics?

Mainlanders prefer to pay more attention to the house-plans than the house-warming party?

Last week I saw a paper in Oamaru in which The Waimate Council was refusing to pay anything towards RiskPool with what it considered a North Island based problem. They had put aside just $50,000 for the whole region/township and anticipate they’ll get change!

Hail the Waimate Council for calling-it as it is.

Stuff any ludicrous claims taxpayers like me should stump-up for this mess.

Have a good Northern Winter Solstice – I’m getting naked and drunk.
See ya.

Paul.

12/24/2009 09:12:00 am  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Heads up on Max Stirner's classic "The Ego and his Own. The case for the individual against authority." If you like Rand and have a Libertarian cast of mind, it will knock your socks off.

O yeah, and you can delete this comment as off topic if you like since I'm writing to you.

4/07/2010 01:48:00 pm  
Anonymous John the builder said...

the role of the BIA must also be seen in context of the acceptable solution that was deemed to comply with the code.
One solution was stucco on rigid backing (without a cavity) that was the benchmark for direct fix systems such as Harditex.
This absorbant cladding option is now the only cladding from this fiasco that isn't part of the present solution but was the cladding emulated by all the proprietary claddings including Harditex and the EIFS systems. When you compare the options even James Hardie might have considered that there product was at least an enhancement to the minimum code requirement.

4/12/2010 10:20:00 pm  
Blogger John the Builder said...

canterbury Atheist;

to qualify as a leaky you only need one leak,some minor "damage", and built in last 10 years.
If you have faith that any home has ever been built in the last years that can strictly comply with this threshold then perhaps you should also give up being an atheist.

Part of this issue is that we haven't learnt the difference between a leaky dwelling and a dwelling wth a leak!

If Waimate hasnt got a leaky then it would be because nothing has been built there for the duration or you havent got an expert who is trained sufficient to find the leak. When they do it is no small step to condemn the rest of the construction and hey presto a leaky claim is born!

When that happens 50000 won't even pay for the lawyer!

4/13/2010 10:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you do a flow diagram of the building construction process all roads lead to BRANZ...

BRANZ sends info to designers/architects, including appraisals "from a "world recognised international researcher" - architect/designer feels safe specifying it. Courted by Manufactruer REPS

MANUFACTURER pays BRANZ 25 to 50K for an appraisal and BRANZ will only alter the appraisal upon receipt from the same manufacturer of a need to change

COUNCIL - rely upon BRANZ appraisal to establish reasonable grounds - courted by Manufacturer REPS

Builder relies upon Designer/architects plans/specs and Council's approved building consent - also gets courted by manufactruer REPS

OWNER - relies on expertise of all the above

7/25/2010 12:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many harditex clad homes, are known to have not leaked?

Of course there are some that have never been investigated, but I wonder, who can show me a home with Harditex applied PRECISELY according to James Hardie Specs...

7/25/2010 12:31:00 pm  
Anonymous David said...

I recently dug up a piece of harditex which had been buried for 17 years, it looked fine and when dry was as strong as a new sheet. I didn't get the weetbix effect. Did they change the formula?

7/05/2011 08:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one of the branz appraisers left branz and went into partnership selling the cladding products to architects and councils , this person told me he put together the manuals for installation ,I would say he was highly instrumental in getting this product on the market , he also with his partner sold out to nuplex for millions before failures started showing, and takes no responsibility for his actions.I cannot see how the builders who installed these products can be held liable . if they installed them according to the details provided. Branz needs to take resposibility for its actions in approving an obviously bad product to go on the market , at least own up to the fact to take the heat off builders ,there cannot be that many bad builders , I recall questions being asked about these products, by the builders I worked with , they were overruled by the specifiers who were convinced the products met all requirements .

7/07/2011 10:49:00 pm  
Blogger mist said...

Its an old horse but this needs be said.

Barry, you are *Wrong*.

The manufacturers of these products set out "installation" and "compliance" documentation.

The inspectors and insurers REQUIRE that the _manufacturers_installation_specifications_ are followed.

The architect can design "better" but has to get engineering approval on a case by case basis to prove that the deviance from _manufacturers_instructions_ is acceptable. Some very large companies have previous approval for certain works which makes it easy for them to submit that to the consent process. Smaller outfits can't afford the process because if something does go wrong they can still be challenged in court over not following the _manufacturers_instructions_ (the engineer report not withstanding, and only allows the surviving builder to pursue damages in their own civil case. Majority of civil case in NZ fail, because courts set very high bar).

Thus individuals (customer/builder/draughtsmen) and small business are forced to comply with manufacturers instructions for better or worse. And the inspectors ensure this. Insurers are also unwilling to insure non standard works. full stop. its not worth their time and effort to bother with "hard cases". Tow the party line, or free up the counterspace.

The only time you can get around it is if you know the inspectors and they're willing to advise before design time AND if they have the experience in the work to recommend it (with modern products its getting harder). And they've got to have the time AND like you. But all that's "pre-consent application".

And thats from someone who has tried to get better materials. (tried to put in H4 bottomplate, when the drawing called for H3.2 on external wall) back in 04. A small change but not accepted "after consent" (they were worried about chemical interaction with the nails, since it "wasn't in the standard spec")

12/30/2011 11:02:00 am  
Blogger Linz said...

I know i am years late to this blog but why have u gone quiet Peter?
You are on the right track...

In any major disaster there multiple failings usually involving one root cause and multiple reasons for not detecting the failures.

The root cause is JH's cladding system combined with CHH's/Fletchers untreated timber.

The detection failure was BRANZ/BIA which they then 'weaseled' out of any liability by changing the name of government entities.

JH is shameless. Check out this brochure:

http://www.jameshardie.co.nz/brochures/1209524762_93238300.pdf

They are lower than pond scum in my opinion. Promoting a solution to replace an 'unsightly' leaky building featuring their fundamentally defective products and suggesting you should spend 100k's to 'upgrade' to their new products that are actually fit-for-purpose. My god how do these w**kers sleep at night...

New Zealand boycott James Hardie! They have screwed this country multiple times:
1) Asbestos
2) A defective weather board system in the 70's
3) Harditex/Monotech

They are as incompetent (and maybe corrupt) as BRANZ ever was and cost this country billions.

Don't give these people any of your hard earned money. Choose someone else's product on principle - they don't deserve it.

7/28/2013 12:13:00 am  
Blogger Linz said...

I know i am years late to this blog but why have u gone quiet Peter?
You are on the right track...

In any major disaster there multiple failings usually involving one root cause and multiple reasons for not detecting the failures.

The root cause is JH's cladding system combined with CHH's/Fletchers untreated timber.

The detection failure was BRANZ/BIA which they then 'weaseled' out of any liability by changing the name of government entities.

JH is shameless. Check out this brochure:

http://www.jameshardie.co.nz/brochures/1209524762_93238300.pdf

They are lower than pond scum in my opinion. Promoting a solution to replace an 'unsightly' leaky building featuring their fundamentally defective products and suggesting you should spend 100k's to 'upgrade' to their new products that are actually fit-for-purpose. My god how do these w**kers sleep at night...

New Zealand boycott James Hardie! They have screwed this country multiple times:
1) Asbestos
2) A defective weather board system in the 70's
3) Harditex/Monotech

They are as incompetent (and maybe corrupt) as BRANZ ever was and cost this country billions.

Don't give these people any of your hard earned money. Choose someone else's product on principle - they don't deserve it.

7/28/2013 12:14:00 am  

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