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Jennian Homes challenges Govt to make all NZ homes safe

17 January 2014

For Immediate Release

Jennian Homes challenges the Government to make all New Zealand Homes Safe

New Zealand’s most awarded home builder Jennian Homes challenges the Government to reduce the number of serious home related injuries (including accidental deaths) by introducing a Warrant of Fitness (WOF) system for all existing houses throughout New Zealand.

This week, The Real Estate Institute called for a Warrant of Fitness style system for homes to ensure that houses have not been used as P- labs, contaminating the home with traces of chemicals used in the production of the drug. Jennian Homes supports the Real Estate Institute’s call for WOF action, but this is way too narrow and only addresses a portion of the safety issues that are faced by all buyers of the existing 1.8 million houses in New Zealand.

Whilst the P-lab issue is sadly very real, Jennian Homes believes that there is a far greater underlying problem. That is the overall health and safety of many of the existing New Zealand homes. Jennian wants to see a WOF system implemented where all existing homes are brought up to the existing Building Code before they can be sold. Many of the existing houses would fail to meet the today’s Building Code. “Every car has to have a valid WOF when it is sold so why not an existing house?” asks Jennian Homes Director Richard Carver.

The ACC website states that more people are injured and sadly killed at home than anywhere else in New Zealand. This makes an urgent change to the approach by the Government a major priority. A 2010 report released by ACC during Safety Week shows that on average more than 12 New Zealanders per week died as a result of an accident in their home. This is far greater than the road toll, “so why does the Government not appear to care?” asks Mr Carver.

The Government has been very proactive in reducing the road toll down to its lowest number since 1950. Mr Carver says it is now time to focus on reducing the number of deaths in all New Zealand homes through the introduction of a (WOF) system for all existing houses.

“Health and Safety is paramount. Consider that as a country we have an excessively high rate of asthma sufferers and then look at our existing housing stock with poor insulation, glazing and ventilation. It’s ludicrous that houses are allowed to change hands in the state that is detrimental to the buyer’s family’s health. Where is the logic in this?”

“Houses are built to last 50 plus years, yet with aging stocks; some are still standing after nearly a century. Would we want to see 100 year old cars, on original specifications remaining on our roads? Why are these homes allowed to deteriorate and continue to have an adverse effect on the health and safety and the lives of our loved ones? The Government must act now to rectify this.”

“New houses are built to the current Building Code and exacting standards ensuring that they are safer and healthier than many of the existing New Zealand housing stock. Surely all homes both existing and new should be held to the same standards?”

Estimates show that the existing national housing stock requires around $9b spent urgently on serious deferred maintenance items, let alone preventative maintenance. If the Government continues to allow homeowners to defer this maintenance, the flow on effect will be significantly higher downstream for all costs, not only in dollars for future homeowners, but in the lives of our loved ones.

Around 80 thousand houses are sold in New Zealand every year. The WOF system will ensure that all houses are brought up to the current Building Code before the transaction is allowed to be completed. This will result in a net gain over time for all New Zealand Homes. These homes will then be safer and healthier to live in and this will also save lives of the ones we love.

“Yes most existing home owners will resist this WOF change, and politically it will not be popular but what price do we collectively put on the life of the ones we love” asked Mr Carver.


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