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A “leaky house” register and process is needed

A “leaky house” register and process is needed that is not about blame and fear but about remedying the problem

“The industry together with central and local government urgently need to apply themselves to determining a process that assists owners of ‘leaky homes’ to remedy the problems without being trapped by the fear of liability and who should be blamed,” said Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Calls to the Chamber by affected parties show the problem is complex, deep seated and in some instances has a 20-year history that is only now coming to light. “There are a wide range of responsibilities and causes that are coming together in a similar result - a leaky house.”

The list of leaky house causes reads as a “who’s who” of the building and construction industry covering:

Successive central and local governments who changed building legislation and codes; Developers who advocate architects, builders and financiers to follow particular specifications; Innovative architects who have introduced new building designs from overseas without necessarily testing whether products and materials suit local conditions; Builders and trades people who may not be fully informed of the consequences of using particular materials in new ways; Customers who believe that building inspectors, rightly or wrongly, look at whether codes of compliance have been met against whether the most appropriate materials have been used and knowing the difference.

“Very clearly, there are many possible causes and many parties with potential responsibility for a particular leaky house problem,” said Mr Barnett.

“Some pragmatic leadership is plainly required that puts the issue of blame aside and addresses a process that affected home and apartment owners can go through to identify the cause of a leaky home and get it fixed.”

For the future reputation of New Zealand as a place to live, invest and work, both the industry and Government need to “get their collective act together” to make sure codes and regulations address all the short-comings that have given rise to the problem, concluded Mr Barnett.

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