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MBIE Report into Canterbury residential repairs released

Wednesday, August 26, 2015   Posted in: Earthquake By: Administrator With tags: housing, repair, earthquake

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) media release: 19th August 2015

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has released a report into the Building Code compliance of earthquake repairs to Canterbury homes.

The report follows an independent survey of 101 homes randomly selected from more than 2,700 addresses provided by EQC, Housing New Zealand, Southern Response and IAG. The survey also included a small sample of houses where homeowners had opted out of an insurer-led home repair programme.

The organisations were asked for addresses of homes with completed structural repairs that were exempt from a building consent under Schedule 1 (repairs and maintenance) of the Building Act.

Exempt repair work was considered to have a greater risk of non-compliance as it’s not subject to a council inspection and because, unlike cosmetic repairs, defects in structural repairs may be hidden from view and therefore harder for homeowners to identify.

Ninety of the 101 homes met the criteria and of these 32 had structural repair work carried out that was non-compliant with the Building Code. An additional 23 homes were assessed as having minor repair defects. The compliance of work assessed as a minor defect may be marginal and a strict application of the Building Code may deem the work to be non-compliant.

A key finding from the survey is that 30 of the 32 homes with non-compliant repairs involved floor re-levelling using the 'jack and pack' repair method.

A further finding is that the repair work to at least nine of the 32 homes was supervised by a Licensed Building Practitioner. MBIE is further investigating these builders.

Adrian Regnault, GM Building System Performance, MBIE, says “there are no concerns for the safety of occupants. The consequences of a poor 'jack and pack' are that the house would fall out of level over time or more quickly if there were another earthquake similar in intensity to the Canterbury Earthquakes.” A house that is out of level may have doors and windows sticking, and uneven benchtops.

“The level of non-compliance is disappointing. ' Jack and pack' is a relatively simple repair job when done correctly and properly supervised. More complex structural repairs inspected in the survey were generally done well, which suggests some corners were cut on the smaller jobs and they lacked adequate supervision and oversight.

“It’s not uncommon in boom times to see tradespeople being exposed to work they may not normally do because of the sheer volume. During these times, greater vigilance is needed by Project Management Offices and contractors, to check that work is being carried out in accordance with their guidelines and repair specification, and that only staff experienced or trained for particular repair work, are doing that work.”

One of the report’s recommendations is for agencies and their Project Management Offices to rectify the issues identified. Mr Regnault says that almost all of the non-compliances are relatively easy to fix.

A further recommendation is for agencies and/or their PMOs to review all completed repair work that has been exempted from a building consent, targeting houses where the repair works involved jacking and packing, to ensure Building Code compliance.

Refer to MBIE's Building Performance website for a complete list of work that does not require a building consent.