Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A few questions for Maurice Wimpianson

3178361 While you’re sitting on your fence holding your head in your hands, Maurice, over the huge leaky homes bill for which ratepayers are potentially liable, why not contemplate this.  You propose changes to the Building Act “that include a guarantee regime” [something you’ve announced several times already without looking like getting any closer to doing it].

    “The guarantee or warranty would have a surety holder behind it [you say], so if something goes wrong a claim can be made against the relevant party [i.e., the insurer].

So you’re proposing an insurance regime, Maurice, said to cost each potential home-builder another $5000 on top of all the thousands of dollars they’re already charged before they can get started, while still maintaining the failed council inspectorate that levies all those charges

Does that make any sense? 

  1. At a time when everyone is trying to get the cost of new homes down, why on earth would you add a new cost to home-builders for what is (at least in theory) just a duplication of what is already being done?
  2. And if the insurance regime isn’t just a duplication of what councils are already doing, does that mean the existing council inspection regime is inadequate—as the evidence would strongly suggest? An insurance regime that is all but an admission that the current building regime doesn’t work.
  3. But why on earth would any case would insurers want to get involved in the system as you propose, unless they can charge like a wounded bull for all the unknown liabilities the duplication of effort is likely to load onto them? 
  4. Doesn’t this duplication just make the chain of responsibility even more muddy than it is now?  Who will know who is responsible for what – council or insurers?  Who will know who pays when stuff goes wrong  – ratepayers or insurers? Who will know who exactly has final responsibility – council or insurers?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to make the chain of responsibility completely transparent by removing one of these two from your regime altogether?
  5. And since ratepayers are already potentially liable for those $11.5 billion or more (by virtue of the Building Act that your government brought in, Maurice), wouldn’t it make more sense to remove the one that’s already demonstrably failed?
  6. In fact, why leave ratepayers in the gun at all?  If you’re going to talk “warranty,” then wouldn’t it make sense to remove the risk from ratepayers altogether by simply sheeting home responsibility to insurers completely?
  7. Wouldn’t this be manifestly simpler all round?
  8. In other words, why keep insisting that councils do a job it’s now abundantly clear they’re not suited for, when if you let the grey ones get out of the way insurance companies can do what they do best: setting and maintaining standards; insuring against risk; and spreading the risk around properly, at no risk at all to ratepayers.

Take your head out of your hands, Maurice, and have a think about it.  Because if you do, you’ll realise it would remove a lot of your other headaches too.


  1. Even if Maurice is listening, I doubt anyone in the National party is listening to him. Isn't that why he was given the job?

  2. Ridiculous! Council's do not even accept Producer Statements from chartered professional engineers without their engineering calculations having to be checked by another chartered professional engineer by way of a peer review. If the engineer that did the engineering calculation needs to be peer reviewed then they shouldn't be a Chartered Professional Engineer! ...and either way we don't need the Councils involved. Duplication and double the cost again for the poor (potential) homeowner

  3. What needs to be done is that the Chartered Engineer's calculations for every aspect of the new house should indeed be rechecked. They should be rechecked by a committee of professional peer reviewers of appropriate qualification and standing in the community. These appropriate folk would, of course, be registered with the Council, but only after undertaking rigorous, culturally aware auditing courses at a recognised educational establishment (properly established under legislation and registered naturally enough), followed by professional examinations and an interview vetting process to weed out unsuitable candidates.

    Once the engineering peer reviewers had all had their say and assuming the calculations and design passed their attentions, then it would be up to the local planning permission under-committe to consider the works documentation. Again, these would be professionals appropriately registered with Council but only after proper selection processes had been attended to in order to weed out any possibility of irresponsible malcontents and the like.

    After the local planing permission under-committee had afixed their stamp and wax seals and ribbons to the consent documents, then it would be the responsibility of the central planning committee to review the work presented to them. After that the planning and cultural peer review super-city senior over-committee would deliberate (they only meet quarterly in order to save money- we mustn't be extravagant with ratepayer funds don't you know). If they were happy with everything then they'd recommend sending the documentation back to the central planning committee who in turn would recheck and finally issue their recommendation for the local planning permission under-committee to add some more wax seals and ribbons and stamps before signing the documents (but not before having the Chartered Engineer, the builder, the owner, his insurer, the bank holding the mortgage and anyone else involved signing an official indemnification form (#325B) in triplicate).

    The final check and approval would be made by Central Government's Department of Final Approvals in Wellington, but only after all the appropriate fees had been paid (in triplicate). Now the applicant is ready to file their application for insurance with the Official Insurance Office (a branch of Government) which would apply an approval system to weed out any inappropriate building designs (the process is too elaborate and long winded to go into here as space does not permit) prior to the applicant seeking appropriate insurance froim an appropriate government approved insurer.

    Everyone can rest assured that the system is successful.


  4. Very good LGM. Can you send that to simpering Wimpianson? In triplicate.

  5. Priceless LGM. Exactly how it works.

    Have flogged your comment.

  6. INstalling monitoring systems would be better, and from plans and specifications would put everyone involved on notice, from designer to Council, manufacturer to Builder & trades, this home is being monitored now, and in the future, any rot, any leaks any problems will show up quickly and well within legal liability time. Better than insurance because it is ambulance at top of cliff not bottom (which insurance is)

  7. Guys, I know of a home completed in early 2010 where the builder ordered trated timber, paid for treated timber has an invoice from supplier stating treated timber, but monitoring showed that the home contains untreated timber in places all over the house including exterior walls... this means manufacturers and treaters are still stuffing up which is precisely what happens when they escape liability... they dont learn or change til they have to


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