THE STORY BEHIND COMPLAINTS INCREASE
LBPs and building firms accused of negligent and incompetent work continue an unflattering trend of malpractice and complaints to the Board — but doesn’t tell the full story, says LBP registrar Paul Hobbs
Charges of poor supervision, no Record of Work, building without a necessary consent, and unlicensed builders posing as an LBP keep coming in.
“This year we’ve had fewer individuals disciplined than last year, but there has been an 8% increase of complaints from last year,” said Hobbs.
“If we were to use the complaints function as a measure, this indicates to us that poor behaviour in the industry is not necessarily becoming more widespread, but that we are possibly identifying the more serious cases more frequently through complaints and our inquiries.”
Hobbs says that the increase in complaints reflects several factors, including an increasing awareness of the ability to lodge a complaint, but in no way indicates a deteriorating standard of LBPs in New Zealand.
“We are communicating frequently with the sector and the public about significant complaint decisions, and these sometimes get picked up by regional and mainstream media. This will continue to raise awareness with the public and other practitioners about the complaint pathways available to them,” said Hobbs.
“The current volume of work in the construction industry has placed extra emphasis toward educating LBPs on their roles, responsibilities and their associated accountability.
“As the scheme has grown, more and more people have become aware of the complaints process and the rules surrounding LBPs — including rules which state an LBP must be used for Restricted Building Work, which was brought in on 1 March 2012 through changes to the Building Act.”
Recent disciplinary action against LBPs
Auckland builder Misi Sau Evile received the strongest penalty ever handed down by the Builder Practitioners Board, after under-quoting a house job by nearly $250,000, failing to provide a Record of Work, and only allocating six months to build the complex two-storey home.
Paul Hobbs said “the quote was based on Mr Evile’s standard pricing procedure, which the board considered negligent as it lacked reasonably expected degree of care and illustrated a lack of knowledge and ability.”
In addition to the ten-year suspension, Mr Evile was ordered to pay costs toward the inquiry.
Auckland-based Design LBP Guangyou Feng had his licence cancelled by the Building Practitioners Board for five charges of fraudulent behaviour.
“Mr Feng forged a Producer Statement, which consumers and councils rely on to provide assurance that building designs meet Building Code compliance,” said Hobbs.
“These forged documents could have had serious, detrimental effects on New Zealanders’ health and safety. We have not taken his offences lightly and, as a result, Mr Feng will not be able to practice as an LBP.”
Another Auckland LBP, Andrew Musson, was charged for bringing the LBP scheme into disrepute. Overseeing alterations to an existing house, Mr Musson allowed changes that were not on the consented plans, while also failing to provide a Record of Work.
“Supervision is a fundamental aspect of the scheme and Mr Musson did not provide adequate support to the unlicensed builder he was responsible for,” said Hobbs.
Mr Musson was ordered to pay $3,000 and costs of $2,000.