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Building industry put on notice

2 August 2005

Building industry put on notice

“If the building industry was honest and had suitably qualified people carrying out building work we wouldn’t need building officials,” says Len Clapham, Chief Executive of the Building Officials Institute of NZ (BOINZ).

“For too long building officials have been blamed for all the failures in the industry. It’s time the industry pulled its socks up and became accountable for its own mistakes,” he says.

Mr Clapham expressed the frustration of many building officials that the industry is still not performing. “The building industry is put on notice. Those in the building industry need to pull it together or get out of the business.”

Building officials have a regulatory role to perform. Building officials are left with no option but to get tougher. The new requirements of the Building Act 2004 mean more scrutiny over plans and specifications, and closer inspection on-site.

“Designers, architects and builders have to take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming the councils and their officials for their mistakes,” says Mr Clapham. “For too long local councils have been the last ones standing when the industry has not fronted up. The cost to the ratepayer is unacceptable.

“This is just not good enough - councils cannot be expected to be the scapegoats by taking all the risks while the industry and legislators walk away from their responsibilities. This has happened far too often in the past, and is an impost that no council should be prepared to accept.”

Mr Clapham says the challenge for the Department of Building and Housing and the building and insurance industries is to stop abdicating responsibility and, as a matter of real urgency, work on a directive that the department can issue to protect community concerns. “Stop all this procrastination and provide a formula in which the community can have confidence and that councils can manage with certainty.

The Institute is seeking to build confidence in the sector through two new initiatives. First, it has formed a training academy to act as a broker for training for building officials. There will be a suite of short courses and recommended qualifications for building officials to undertake to keep up-to-date.

“Training has always been a priority for building officials and while we are among the best-trained people in the industry we want to keep one step ahead. Along with this we will be introducing a voluntary accreditation and licensing programme for all building officials,” says Mr Clapham.

The Institute has also put a proposal to the DBH for the development of guidelines for building officials to use in vetting plans and conducting inspections. “We recognise that consistency is important,” says Mr Clapham.

“So while we need to be tougher we also need to ensure we deliver a consistent service to the industry. The development of inspection guidelines will assist this process.”

ENDS

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