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Government actively seeking assessment of report

Government actively seeking assessment of report

Concerns raised by engineer John Scarry about the safety of some buildings in earthquakes are being thoroughly assessed, says Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel.

Mr Scarry outlined his concerns to his profession’s body, the Institution of Professional Engineers, IPENZ, in September last year, and forwarded them to the government on December 10.

Lianne Dalziel says that within a week of the receipt of Mr Scarry’s open letter, government officials had met with IPENZ to discuss its response.

IPENZ advised that it had initiated a practice review of the letter, which has involved open consultation with professional engineers and is a key topic for the IPENZ conference next week. A progress report is expected next month.

The Building Industry Authority also commissioned an independent engineering consultancy to examine Mr Scarry’s assessment of deficiencies in concrete design and construction. That report is due by May 2.

Ministry of Economic Development officials have met with John Scarry to ensure that the underlying concerns he raised were addressed in the review of the Building Act, for which a discussion document was launched by Lianne Dalziel two weeks ago.

Lianne Dalziel says while Mr Scarry’s concerns are being taken seriously, it was important for them to be first tested by expert analysis.

“I cannot pre-judge the advice that will result from the analysis. However, the issues he raises serve to confirm comments I have made that the weathertightness problem is only one symptom of wider, systemic problems within the construction industry.

“That’s why we have initiated a comprehensive review of the Building Act. The government is determined to provide a fundamental assessment of the construction industry so we minimise the chance of future building failure.

“If that process points to any need to examine some existing buildings, then we will act but first we must properly test the validity of any concerns,” said Lianne Dalziel.

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