What is going on in the building industry?

There is something awry in the building industry.

First we have the concrete cancer issue that is slowing rotting away buildings like the new Manukau District Court building in Auckland.

Then only the other week we had concrete steel mesh being pulled from the market and investigations by the Commerce Commission and MBIE.

Then we heard frameless toughened glass balustrades are likely to be banned with Auckland Council pushing the government to fast-track a national building standard.

Now via the tip-line we have Winstone Wallboards placing a ?precautionary temporary ?hold? on 13mm GIB Fyreline plasterboard and the BRANZ Appraisal #289 [2012] has been suspended.. Building product merchants have been asked to stop selling the product.

Surprisingly, MSM aren?t running the story. ? Read more »

Will Paula’s ‘reforms’ really make a blind bit of difference?


Paula Bennett has come out with a loopy brain fart to perhaps let builders provide themselves with a code of compliance certificate for some specific building works.

This is all set around the National Government’s theme to reduce ‘red tape’.

The problem is that the issues facing property developers, builders and the general public are not benign issues.

If the worst problem facing the property industry and home owners – were getting code of compliance certificates then this country would be in good shape.

I don’t believe that Paula really cares much about local government despite it being her portfolio. She has gladly accepted the role from the boss – but it’s a bit of a handful and she doesn’t have a clue where to start because she doesn’t understand the issues. ? Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Picture: Feature China / Barcroft Media

Picture: Feature China / Barcroft Media

How On Earth Did China

Build a 57-Story Skyscraper in 19 Days?

Read more »

More good news

Another crisis that Labour has been campaigning on has had a shot in the arm, simply from Labour declaring that there was a crisis in the first place.

Residential building consents continued to rise in March, which was the best month for house approvals in more than six years.

Some 1999 new dwellings were consented, 186 apartments which were largely rest-home units, and 1813 houses – the highest number since November 2007, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Business indications manager Neil Kelly said the trend for new dwellings had almost doubled since March 2011, but was still 28 per cent below the peak in January 2004. ? Read more »

Photo Of The Day

'I still smile when I look at it' ? Women in a New York City Apartment Building.  Photograph: Ormond Gigli.

‘I still smile when I look at it’ ? Women in a New York City Apartment Building.
Photograph: Ormond Gigli.

Women in the Windows in Manhattan

? Read more »

Finger pointing at developers nonsense

First it was the leaky buildings now it appears the fingers are being pointed at property developers for the installation of sub-standard fire systems.

The systemic failure by cost-cutting apartment developers to build fire-safe apartment blocks in New Zealand’s major city is being kept under wraps by secret legal settlements.

The Sunday Star-Times has learned of a number of secret settlements to homeowners involving professional fire engineers and the Auckland Council for sub-standard fire systems in multi-unit dwellings although the council denies its involvement.

While the fire safety problems are not restricted to Auckland or apartment buildings, the Star-Times understands settlements so far have related to Auckland apartment complexes.

The finger cannot and should not be pointed at developers. Particularly for apartment buildings.

All big apartment buildings are built on contract by construction firms who make it their job to add value to contracts through variations (charging extra for changes or design detail that is missing) and ‘value engineering’ (the art of substituting products for cheaper variants to save money and improve the margin for fixed price contracts). Banks and financiers expect fixed price contracts and constructors price lean to get contracts then manage greater margins during the process as described.? Read more »

Time for a proper investigation into building costs

A reader emails about this story in the NZ Herald about the need for transparency in construction and building costs.

Builders may be forced to disclose any overseas holidays, new vehicles, tickets to sports events and other gifts they receive as rewards for buying building products as part of government moves to drive down building material costs.

Housing Minister Nick Smith and Commerce Minister Craig Foss yesterday released a series of options for cutting building costs as part of the Government’s suite of measures to tackle the high price of housing.

The options were released as new legislation was introduced to Parliament to constrain building costs by limiting development contributions paid by developers to councils for infrastructure such as sewerage, roading and water.

Dr Smith said building costs were too high, as much as 30 per cent above those in Australia.

The reader comments:

You watch in weeks to come the spin from the lobby group formed to protect product suppliers. They will make Len’s team look honest.

I spent have spent much time researching this for my job.

I have found that Fletchers for instance makes framing that it exports and sells in Australia cheaper it sells the same grade timber framing here despite the obvious transport costs. Some builders have tried importing it back in from Australia and been stamped on. ? Read more »

Jacinda hates DIY, how did she think all those villas in Ponsonby she covets got to be so nice?

Why does Jacinda Ardern hate jobs, progress and DIY?

Where do some builders buy their materials from to build new houses in Grey Lynn? Or renovate the Ponsibly villas she says she can’t afford?

Or is Cindy upset her favourite latte place will be next to former Labour, now National voters’ weekend shopping place? What a loser.

image Read more »

Crisis, What Housing Crisis?

Once again Labour has rushed out to solve a crisis that isn’t a crisis. Last night on The Huddle Josie Pagani accused me of denying that a problem existed.

Turns out, just like the manufactured crisis in manufacturing that there isn’t a housing crisis either.

New Zealand new home building consents fell in June though the decline wasn’t enough to prevent growth in the second quarter from reaching a five-year high, government figures show. ? Read more »

Friday Facts – The History of Untreated Timber

Leaky HomesThere has been a great deal of heat, angst and obfuscation over the years relating to the allowing of untreated framing timber to be introduced. Politicians have pointed fingers, Councils have done similarly. Here are the simple facts and as you will be able to see the reason why not a single court in the land has held any government (Labour or National) responsible for the crisis.

Unfortunately though Helen Clark tried to make it political when she denied any problem existed and labeled it all “a Herald beat-up“, and as late as June 2008 was saying that government wouldn’t help one little bit because it had no liability. Phil Twyford, the opposition spokesman for the homeless, also tried to make it political when he blogged last year.

I have been told by old local government hands that when the 1989 amalgamations took place the new councils in many cases brushed off claims from people that dated back to the old councils.? How can Auckland leaky home owners be sure this won?t happen again?

From the facts listed below you can see that Twyford was being extremely economical with the truth. There simply can’t have been any claims prior to council amalgamation in 1989 because the rules weren’t even passed until 1995.

Labour had their chance, and they showed that they just don’t care. Thankfully Maurice Williamson is a better Minister than Twyford could ever hope to be and Clark ever was and we now at last have a solution with which to move forward.

The History of Untreated Timber

1.? The report of the Building Industry Commission in 1987 called for the establishment of a single national Building Code and an independent regulatory authority.

2. These recommendations were incorporated into the Building Bill introduced to parliament by Hon. Margaret Austin (Labour) on 4 Sep 1990 which was finally implemented as the Building Act 1991 in December of 1991 (the vote in the House on the third reading was unanimous).

3. The Act created the Building Industry Authority.

4. One of the BIA?s functions was to publish Approved Documents (now Compliance Documents), which illustrated one way of complying with the Building Code.

5. In 1995, Standards New Zealand revised NZS 3602, which deals with timber durability and preservative treatment. The relevant committee included representatives of industry and the Building Industry Authority technical staff.

6. Discussion at the committee centred primarily on resistance to borer attack and other advantages that would be provided by a move to untreated, kiln-dried timber. There was little awareness at the time about the role preservative treatment played in also preventing fungal decay.

7. The committee subsequently decided to amend the Standard to allow kiln-dried, untreated timber in buildings.

8. In 1998, the Building Industry Authority decided to reference the 1995 version of NZS 3602 (which allowed untreated, kiln-dried framing) in the B1 (Structure) Approved Document. This was an independent statutory decision by the authority.

9. The responsible Minister of the time (Hon Jack Elder, Minister of Internal Affairs) would have been informed but not consulted.

10. Cabinet did not consider the issue, and no legislation or regulations were passed.

11. By being referenced in the B1 Approved Document, NZS 3602:1995 became one means of compliance with the Building Code. Councils were obliged to accept untreated framing in buildings, where proposed by building consent applicants.

12.? The Standard was again revised in 2003, in response to emerging problems with leaky buildings, to require preservative treatment of most framing.