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Fines a wake up call for building industry

Media Release

December 12, 2008

Fines a wake up call for building industry

The parties found guilty of undertaking unauthorised building works at a Te Atatu subdivision have been fined more than $80,000.

It is a case that Waitakere City Council says should be a wake up call for all property developers and building professionals.

In April the council took legal action against those involved in the Riverglade Parkways development at 191 McLeod Rd, where it was discovered that 14 concrete foundations and the framing for nine houses had been constructed without building consent.

Project manager Mark Ma, developers HQH Limited, flooring contractors Jamieson Foundations Ltd and Conqra Contracting (2005) Limited and design and supervising engineers Wilton Joubert Limited and its directors all faced multiple charges for breaches of the Building Act in relation to the work.

The last of the parties to be sentenced, Wilton Joubert Limited and its directors, appeared in the North Shore District Court this week. They had been found guilty of undertaking building works without consent on the McLeod Rd site; namely the inspection of slab foundations on the site and the verification that these were constructed in accordance with its designs, and a building consent, where no building consent had been granted or issued.

The company and its directors were found guilty, and were this week discharged without conviction on 14 charges each and ordered to pay $20,000 in costs.

“We are very pleased with the result and the penalties imposed because it sends a very strong message to the whole building industry that any breaches of the Act will not be tolerated by this council or by the Courts,” says Vanessa Neeson, chairperson of Waitakere City Council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee.

"It gives us no joy to have to prosecute these kinds of cases. It is disappointing that it is people in the industry, who should already know the rules before they begin, that have carried out this work.”

She says that the courts took into consideration the seriousness of the case by imposing very high starting points for fines against some of the defendants.

The starting point fine for Mr Ma of $25,000 and the $50,000 starting point fine against the developers were the highest ever imposed by the Court in relation to Building Act offences.

While pleased with the outcome, the council says it was a time-consuming case to prosecute with so many parties involved and each of those defendants being sentenced by a different judge.

Summary of charges and sentences:

Mark Ma
Pleaded guilty to 14 charges of undertaking building works without consent. Convicted and fined $17, 0000 plus costs. Charges laid under s40(1) of the Building Act 2004.

HQH Limited
Pleaded guilty to14 charges of undertaking building works without consent. Convicted and fined $34,000 plus costs.

Jamieson Foundations Limited
Plead guilty to 11 charges for the unauthorised works in relation to construction of 11 of the 14 foundation slabs for which no consent had been granted. Granted discharge without conviction with the council awarded costs of $7000.

Conqra Contracting (2005) Limited
Initially pleaded not guilty to three charges laid under the Act but later changed its plea. Discharged without conviction with counsels’ for the parties agreeing on costs of $3000.

Wilton Joubert Limited
The company and its directors were each charged with 14 charges under the Act for the unauthorised works, namely the inspection of slab foundations post-construction, but pre-concrete pour, and verifying that these were in accordance with its designs, and a building consent, where a building consent had not been granted or issued.
The defendants pleaded not guilty, were found guilty but discharged without conviction and ordered to pay the council costs of $20,000.

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