Cracking down on shoddy building

Last Updated : 21 Oct 2015
Campaigning for quality building

With up to a third of all building inspections currently being failed, Auckland Council is working with key industry groups on quality-control issues as housing construction continues to boom.

“As the building boom gathers pace, tradespeople with greatly varying levels of skill have flooded into the industry and some supervisors are taking on more jobs than they can effectively handle,” says Ian McCormick, general manager of the council’s Building Control Department.

Auckland Council is also shutting down about two sites a week because of dangerous excavation work.

View our videos showing recent examples of poor building practices rife in Auckland, as encountered by our building inspectors.  

“The problem is increasing as the city intensifies and more challenging in-fill housing sites suddenly become worth building on,” says Mr McCormick.

Concern about shoddy building work has resulted in the council appointing a full-time investigator to look into examples of substandard work and, where necessary, lay complaints with professional licensing bodies.

To help address some of these issues, the council’s building inspection team is working closely with industry groups such as Registered Master Builders and Certified Builders.

Auckland Council’s quality strategy involves working with relevant professional affiliations to make the industry more aware of current issues and develop quality assurance tools for use on site.

“We are working together at the moment and looking at designing some type of simple quality assurance tools that builders can use to make it easier for them to manage different sub-trades working on a site,” says Mr McCormick.

“The quality tools would involve someone signing off the key structural elements and milestones of the build, providing them with a simple system they can use to ensure the work has been checked off as compliant with the approved plans before the inspector arrives. This will mean less re-work, and less need for regulatory intervention.

“We are also working with central government on how we can provide real incentives for those practitioners with robust quality systems in place.

“We believe maintaining quality needs to be an industry-wide focus.”

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says it is imperative that all new homes meet the council’s stringent building standards.

“Many owners are still meeting the costs of poor performance and design from a previous era and the council is determined to ensure high quality construction is the new yardstick.

“Doing things properly first time reduces costs and construction time. These are both issues that we are grappling with in Auckland.

“It’s great to see our Building Control team taking a leadership role with the industry in dealing with shoddy practices.”

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