13 Aug 2010

BRANZ say industry responsible for leaky homes

3:34 pm on 13 August 2010

The Building Research Association (BRANZ) says the whole industry is responsible for the problem of leaky homes.

Building Minister Maurice Williamson is amending the 2004 Building Act and wants builders, rather than councils, to eventually take full responsibility for their work including any weather tightness issues.

However, it has been suggested that 70% of weather tightness problems are due to the Government-run association recommending poor quality products to the industry.

Architect Hugh Chapman says though 30% of the leaky building problem is down to builder error, 70% is due to poor quality or incorrect products recommend by BRANZ.

Mr Chapman says BRANZ has in the past endorsed building paper that was too thin, wrong plaster paint, the use of untreated timber and told builders not to bother with vapour barriers in North Island houses despite the humidity.

He says builders are not to blame for the leaky building problem and it is unfair to make them financially liable.

Builder Ross Bannan agrees with Mr Chapman. He says if the liability does shift to builders, countless companies will face financial ruin simply because they did what they were told to.

Both say it is the Government - not builders - who should be held liable as they appoint BRANZ members.

BRANZ chief executive Pieter Burghout says despite unsuccessful legal challenges, it does accept some moral responsibility for the problem.

Mr Burghout says because of that, having proportional liability is probably the fairest approach in future.

Act doesn't go far enough - association

The Home Owners and Buyers Association says proposed changes to the Building Act do not go far enough.

The Government wants to bring in gradual amendments starting this year. If passed by Parliament, the changes will require written contracts for building work worth more than $20,000 that set out expectations for warranties and how to handle disputes.

The Government also wants to cut bureaucracy by changing how consents are handled and builders would have to be licensed by 2012.

But association chief executive John Gray said he is not confident the proposals focus enough on quality to give consumers confidence and protection.