20 years ago:
• The Privy Council found in favour of an Invercargill home owner in a landmark case testing New Zealand’s building liability laws.
The case sought to absolve local authorities throughout the country of liability to home owners for faulty workmanship, and to abolish a reasonable discoverability clause that was in force in New Zealand.
The Privy Council upheld the New Zealand Court of Appeal’s decision on both counts, finding in favour of the home owner.
The case related to building defects in a house built in 1972. The Invercargill City Council inspected the foundation excavations, but within two years of completion the house walls started to crack and doors jammed because of faulty foundations.
The owner eventually sued the council for damages in 1989 as the builder had gone out of business. The High Court ruled the building inspector had been negligent in failing to ensure the foundations went into solid ground, and the council was found 100% liable for the claimed repair costs of $64,250.
15 years ago:
• Innovative building industry “Training in a box” was helping trainees qualify as builders more quickly at a lower cost.
Devised by the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), trainees received, literally, a large box containing all the resource material required for a minimum of 71 New Zealand Qualifications Authority units of the builder’s National Certificate in Carpentry.
BCITO (Northern) spokesman Jim Johnstone said employers thought it was great because they didn’t have to lose apprentices off the work site to attend block courses, and trainees liked it because they could go at their own speed, and relate theory to what they were actually doing on the job.
10 years ago:
• The Department of Labour launched one of its largest concentrated compliance campaigns, aimed at the Auckland construction sector.
The campaign saw 14 of the department’s Health and Safety inspectors converge on Auckland, visiting 160 construction sites to lift the level of health and safety legislation compliance.
Department chief health and safety advisor Mike Cosman said many new migrant employers and contractors in Auckland were unsure of their health and safety obligations, and many workers were likely to be unclear of their statutory entitlements.
5 years ago:
• The location and scale of potential faults under the Canterbury Plains needed to be understood before Christchurch poured billions of dollars into rebuilding, according to University of Canterbury geologist Mark Quigley.
Both the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes occurred on fault lines that did not exist on GNS Science’s database.
“We’ve been struck by two faults we didn’t know about,” Dr Quigley said. “So here’s the question: Is there a fault that’s really short but capable of a magnitude four earthquake in the immediate Christchurch area?
“And we need this data before we even talk about rebuilding.”