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Leaking Buildings

25 March 2002

Building Industry Authority

The Building Industry Authority has recently engaged an independent team of three people to conduct an inquiry into widespread claims that new buildings are failing to stay weathertight.

This team, officially called the Building Industry Authority Overview Group on Weathertightness, is chaired by Don Hunn, former State Services Commissioner and Head of the NZ Public Service 1987-97. The other members are Ian Bond, civil engineer and construction consultant, and David Kernohan, architect and former Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Architecture.

Establishing this independent group is the Authority’s response to concerns expressed by a number of industry organisations plus media accounts of a high incidence of leaking and rotting houses. As the Government body responsible for the country’s building controls, the Authority is acting under its statutory responsibilities and in the interests of the public to ensure buildings are safe and healthy. The New Zealand Building Code requires buildings to be constructed in such a way to resist the penetration of moisture from the outside.

“The group has been instructed to undertake a planned and detailed investigation into the reported current failure of new and near new buildings to remain weathertight”, said Dr Bill Porteous, BIA Chief Executive, following the group’s first meeting in late February. “The Authority has asked the group to obtain evidence to show how widespread and how big the problem is and to identify all likely causes”, he said.

Amongst the first tasks the group has set itself is to undertake a comprehensive international literature search. To complement this, the group will meet face-to-face with key people in Wellington and Auckland to canvass the issues involved. From such interviews the group plans to design a survey that will extract quantitative data from the industry.

The overview group will be maintaining a cooperative relationship with the existing Weathertight Buildings Steering Group co-ordinated by BRANZ, which comprises representatives from the construction industry. The outcomes of the steering group’s initiatives to address specific problems will contribute to the complete picture that the overview group has been asked to describe.

No deadline has been given for the overview group’s report. This will be set once the preliminary investigations are complete, however, the group will be providing monthly reports to the Authority. The group next meets on 27 March.

Anyone who wants to assist the group, provide evidence or information or to comment is invited to write to the BIA Overview Group on Weathertightness, C/- Building Industry Authority, PO Box 11 846, Wellington; fax 04 471 0798; email: bia@bia.govt.nz

The Building Industry Authority is an independent Crown entity that was established in 1991 to manage the Building Act and Building Regulations throughout New Zealand.

ENDS

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