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May 2019

Negligent work proves costly

16 Apr 2019, Industry Updates, News

The Board continues to stay busy as complaints come through regarding LBPs carrying out work to an unsatisfactory standard

Two LBPs have recently been given penalties by the Board after carrying out building work in a negligent manner.

Communication is key

A Tauranga LBP (Carpentry and Site AOP 2) was penalised in March for his negligence in carrying out building work, as well as not complying with a building consent and failing to provide a Record of Work.

The complainant noted that during the construction phase, cobble stones had been marked due to inadequate protection, and were damaged further when they were cleaned. The LBP conceded that he should have supervised more closely to improve the protection and cleaning processes.

It was also pointed out by the complainant that a Record of Work had not been provided by the LBPon completion of the Restricted Building Work.

The LBP argued that he intended to deliver the Record of Work once he obtained a practical completion certificate. However, the Board deemed the Record of Work was submitted late (after the complaint was made) and given to the wrong entity, the board’s Technical Assessor, rather than the owner or territorial authority.  

The Board also said the builder was negligent when consulting the owner on the changes being made to window sill heights upstairs.

The designer specified sill heights of 1000mm on upstairs windows.The LBP, in conjunction with the owner, agreed on a lower height after having the complainant sit on a chair upstairs while he moved a piece of wood up and down until the desired view was achieved.

The LBP accepted that he did not discuss the implications of the lower sill height, which being lower that 760mm would require restrictor stays. The complainant had apparently made it clear it was important that the windows open fully. He also didn’t relay changes to the designer or the Council for a change to the consented plans.

As a result, the Board considered Mr. Russell’s conduct to have fallen below an acceptable standard, as it would be expected that he would advise the client on the implications.

The LBP was named, censured, ordered to pay a fine of $1,500 for failing to provide a Record of Work and $1,000 toward the Board’s inquiry.

Staying within competence and consent process

A Wellington Carpentry LBP was penalised in February after an anonymous complaint regarding building work being carried out on his own dwelling caught the attention of the Council.

The work being carried out did not have resource or building consent, but the LBP argued he had an email from the Council Planning Technician stating he did not need one. However, upon inspection, the Board found the email related only to resource consent and stated this covered only ‘repairs and maintenance’, with a definition of this provided for the LBP.

It was noted by a Council Building Inspector that a lower level addition and substantial replacement and alteration of the original building, including a support structure, had been carried out without a building consent. These alterations extended beyond the definition of ‘repairs and maintenance’ provided by the technician.

The LBP stated that he did the work based on his own knowledge and experience but did not refer to or have a copy of NZS 3604. He also acknowledged he should have sought the services of an engineer in respect to determining design aspects of the building work.

He expressed remorse for his actions and said he was prepared to do what was required to obtain a Certificate of Acceptance.

Despite the Board ruling that the LBP had not conducted himself in a way that brought the regime into disrepute, they decided he carried out building work in a negligent manner. This was because he did not make any enquiries regarding obtaining a building consent and proceeded to carry out work that clearly required one. The board ordinarily imposes a significant fine for conduct of this nature; however, in this instance the Board took the LBP’s responsible approach toward the investigation, and the fact that he accepted responsibility for his conduct into account.

The Board noted the LBP was lacking in regulatory knowledge and that a training order would be the most appropriate form of penalty. To this end, the LBP was ordered to undertake and complete Unit Standard 24364 within 6 months – at his own cost and to the satisfaction of the Registrar. The LBP was ordered to pay $1,000 costs towards the Board’s inquiry.

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