Jennian Homes director Richard Carver says today’s leaky homes are more than likely built by cowboy builders that have been allowed to build houses again after their companies have failed, and by builders that are still taking short cuts.
“What we have here are shonky builders reinventing themselves, rising yet again from the ashes as phoenix companies, or simply restarting after previous failures, because company rules have not been changed to prevent it,” Mr Carver says.
“Under current legislation and regulations, anyone can set up a building company — they don’t require any capital or licensing or any basic building or business skills. As a result they have poor business practices and non-existent quality systems,” he says.
Poor design not suited to New Zealand conditions — for example, buildings with no eaves, cantilevered decks and parapets, or flat roofs — combined with low value, risky building materials and poor workmanship result in leaky homes.
Mr Carver says he would hope that today no builders would be producing potentially leaky homes, but, unfortunately, there is no way to be certain of that.
Councils have a key role to play in ensuring that houses are built properly through their inspection processes.
“We still have a system where anyone can call themselves a builder and build a home — there is no screening or licensing in place — and when customers are after the cheapest price and there is so much competition in the marketplace, they may be drawn to low quality builders.
“Customers need to stick to tried and proven building brands that have stood the test of time, and accept the fact that quality may cost more. In the long run it will bring them peace of mind.”
Mr Carver says the key is to address the fundamental issues underpinning failure within the sector.
“Companies such as Jennian have been investing for more than 30 years in quality systems and people. Quality is everything we do.
“We urgently need an independent licensing system run by the Government to keep poor builders out, and company legislation that prevents them from re-entering the building industry when they fail,” he says.
“I am very sorry for the home owners in Christchurch who have been forced to demolish their leaky home. Their home was built 15 years ago and, essentially, it’s not worth trying to repair a flawed design or redo poor workmanship.
“In this case, it is better and cheaper to knock it down and build again. Putting a stop to the building of leaky homes once and for all will save others from having to go down this traumatic route.”