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Government challenged to make all New Zealand homes safe

17 September 2014

For immediate release

Leading homebuilder challenges the Government to make all New Zealand homes Safe

Leading home builder Jennian Homes has challenged the Government to reduce the number of serious home--related injuries by extending the rental home warrant--of--fitness scheme, proposed by several political parties, to cover all homes in New Zealand.

A jump in existing home sales has been tipped to follow this week’s election, after pre--election cautiousness has eased.

Therefore more houses will change ownership with no regard for whether they meet the standards of modern building practices.

The home builder says it is time for the Government, whichever party may govern after Saturday, to take seriously the issue of safe housing.

Earlier this year, a trial of 500 state houses was undertaken, where a 49--point checklist needed to be achieved to grant the home a warrant--of--fitness for three years.

If the Government deems the trial a success, the WOF system would encompass the Government’s entire state housing stock.

While Jennian Homes Director Richard Carver sees this as a step in the right direction, he wants to a WOF system implemented where all existing homes are brought up to the existing Building Code before they can be sold or rented--out by landlords.

Many of the older, existing houses would fail to meet the today’s Building Code.

“Every car has to have a valid WOF before it goes on the road so why are existing houses not brought up to current code before they’re sold or rented?" asks Mr Carver.

The ACC website1 states that more people are injured or sadly killed at home than anywhere else in New Zealand.

This makes an urgent change to the approach by the Government a major priority.

Figures obtained from the site today show that in the year ended June 2014 there were 371 claims2 lodged for fatalities that occurred around the home.

This is greater than the road toll, “so why does the Government not appear to care?" asks Mr Carver.

“Perhaps there is a fear it will have a negative effect on votes."

The Government has been very proactive in reducing the road toll to its lowest number since 1950.

Mr Carver says it is now time to focus on reducing the number of deaths in all New Zealand homes through the expansion of the WOF system to cover all existing houses.

“Health and Safety is paramount. Consider that as a country we have an excessively high rate of asthma sufferers and then look at our existing housing stock with poor insulation, glazing and ventilation. It’s ludicrous that we can live in these houses or they can change ownership in a condition that is detrimental to our health. Where is the logic in this?"

“Houses are built to last 50 plus years, yet with aging stocks; some are still standing at over a century. Would we want to see 100 year old cars, on original specifications remaining on our roads? Why are these homes allowed to deteriorate and continue to have an adverse effect on the health and safety and the lives of our loved ones? The Government must act with urgency to rectify this."

“New houses are built to the current Building Code and exacting standards ensuring that they are safer and healthier than many of the existing New Zealand housing stock. Surely all homes both existing and new should be held to the same standards?"

Estimates show that the existing national housing stock requires around $9billion spent urgently on serious deferred maintenance items, let alone preventative maintenance.

If the Government continues to allow homeowners to defer this maintenance, the flow--on effect will be significantly higher downstream for all costs, not only in dollars for future homeowners, but in the lives of our loved ones.

More than 80,000 homes were sold in New Zealand in 2013.

If implemented, the WOF system proposed by Jennian Homes would ensure that all houses are brought up to the current Building Code before the transaction is allowed to be completed.

This will result in a net gain over time for all New Zealand Homes.

These homes will then be safer and healthier to live in and this will also save lives of the ones we love.

“Yes, most existing home owners will resist this WOF change, and politically it will not be popular but what price do we collectively put on the life of the ones we love” asked Mr Carver.

*ENDS*

1 http://www.acc.co.nz/about-acc/statistics/injury-statistics/index.htm#

2 The website states this statistic is approximate and can be verified by contacting statistics@acc.co.nz to request specific data.

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