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Building certifier collapse puts heat on council

8 December 2004

Second building certifier collapse puts heat on council and customers

Files from the failed Nationwide Building Certifiers Group are not expected to be released by the Department of Building and Housing until Christmas week.

Auckland City expects to receive up to 400 and has contracted additional staff to review the files as quickly as possible. However, customers may have to wait until the week beginning 24 January to find out if council is able to undertake inspections on building work.

“This will be difficult for Nationwide’s customers”, says Mr Barry Smedts, acting group manager, Auckland City Environments, “but we must make sure that all the information and documentation is available before we proceed.”

This means that customers are faced with deciding whether or not to proceed with building work before council formally accepts the work.

Council recommends that work stops until customers have been contacted by council. If customers decide to ignore this advice and continue to build they should collect as much evidence as possible about the work being done.

This evidence may help to satisfy council that the work undertaken complies with the building code but it may not be enough to guarantee a code of compliance certificate.

Council will have to charge Nationwide’s customers for the work undertaken in having the files transferred, inspections and issuing of code of compliance certificates.

“We know this is an added burden around Christmas but the most important thing for customers is to have the comfort of knowing that the building quality will be the best it can be through the proper certification,” said Councillor Glenda Fryer, chairperson of the Planning and Regulatory Committee.

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The workload of Auckland City’s staff dealing with building issues is at an all time high while the council struggles to recruit sufficient staff to deal with the city’s development boom and the demise of certifier companies.

“We’ve extended an open invitation to inspectors from the collapsed Approved Building Certifiers (ABC) to talk to council, and we make the same offer to Nationwide’s inspectors,” said Mr Smedts.

Following the ABC collapse in September, Auckland City has been in touch with 534 customers and assessed all of the residential properties. In most cases, ABC’s files were lacking sufficient information and council is working with the customers to find the best way forward.

The demise of more private certifiers is expected in the new year unless they can address insurance and liability issues under the new Building Act which comes into force on 1 April.

ENDS

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