Howick and Pakuranga Times
Botany and Ormiston Times : Botany and Ormiston Times Thursday August 4 2016
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Our Homes Today Phone 271 8068 www.times.co.nz elitebathroomware renovation service CREATE YOUR DREAM BATHROOM WITH US TODAY 59A ALLENS ROAD, EAST TAMAKI | 09 274 7030 | www.elitebathroomware.co.nz FREE IN-HOME MEASURE & QUOTE | PROFESSIONAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT FROM START TO FINISH SHOWROOM CONSULATIONS FOR PRODUCT CHOICE | QUALIFIED DESIGNERS & TRADESMEN FEBRUARY 2016 SMALL 2.indd 1 30/04/2016 10:39:24 a.m. SC3622-V8 ■■ By Marianne Kelly Heard the story about the same section of reinforcing steel being re-used at each stage of foundation concreting to save money? No doubt that the practice is a trick from way back. But Jeff Fahrensohn , Auckland Council’s manager inspections suspects that these days it’s an urban myth. Everyone around can see what is being done, he says, especially on a sub-division. Other builders, he says, are quick to advise inspectors when they see doubtful practices. “We get a lot of help from the industry. The guys who do the good jobs don’t like seeing others cutting corners.” The housing build has been rising over the past five-seven years, he says, but it’s accelerated over the last 18 months to two years. Mr Fahrensohn doesn’t think “shonky” building work is as big a problem as generally portrayed. In fact the percentage of failed final inspections, when Code of Compliance Certificates are issued for work that is complete and compliant, is decreasing, he says. It fell from about 35-40 per cent last year to 25-30 per cent this year. The Howick Ward, he says, is no different from the rest of the region and the fail rate is reducing as trades people upskill over time. However, there is an anomaly relating to non-complying work compared with bad workmanship, he says. “Bad workmanship can still comply with the Building Code and unfortunately a council inspector can only address issues which don’t comply with the code. “ There have always been dodgy practitioners,” Mr Fahrensohn says. “But the problem now is more about the amount of work going on and people not being ready for inspections. The architects are churning out the plans at such a rate and getting them into the council for building consents that it [the council] is almost turning into a quality assurance service.” Consent applications, he says, have increased on average 13 per cent across the region over the last year and this figure is similar for the Howick Ward. About 210 building consents are “turned down” annually at lodgement and about 70 per cent of building consents require further information to prove they will comply with the Building Code. This results in a delay issuing consents while council processors wait for information. “Few of these consents are cancelled,” he says, “as we work with customers to address the missing information to allow the application to be continued.” This is a consistent problem across the entire Auckland region, he says. “ The problem with the current boom is that the builders are working so quickly and with so many jobs on the go that we turn up and they are not ready for inspection.” It’s rare, he says, to find doubtful practices used on purpose. Builders cutting corners to cut costs number among the bottom two-three per cent. “ They are fly-by-nighters and they don’t last long. They move around a lot and leave a trail of destruction. But we are pro-actively working to cut them off as early as possible.” Structural and finishing work provides signs of bad workmanship, Mr Fahrensohn says. “ The way a person acts is a tell tale. You get a gut feeling when someone is trying to guide you around rather than letting you do the inspection.” Product substitution, he says, is one of the main ways some builders and sub-contractors cut corners, for example under-sized wiring installed at one-third the cost of the specified product. “Every type of product has an alternative copy, right down to bolts manufactured in overseas countries from lesser quality steel. I can find exact copies of most components of bathroom ware and a home owner won’t know they have been installed for a year or two until a component, such as a faucet, gets loose and starts to drip.” One of the biggest current issues, Mr Fahrensohn says, is the level of workmanship because of the speed and amount of work undertaken causing human error. “Five years ago a building supervisor would be responsible for five houses. Now we can find one supervising 60 houses and at that rate they can’t check every detail. We find school leavers, people from overseas countries, tech students, anyone who can swing a hammer under supervision having done the work. Then we turn up to inspect.” Depending on when a job is stopped, the cost can be “megabucks”, he says, which is why penalty clauses are written into contracts and most building companies include contingencies for the chances of failing initial inspections or hold-ups, such as bad weather. Jeff Fahrensohn, Auckland Council’s manager inspections points out a sign of a builder who knows what he’s doing. The straps that tie the studs together to hold the weight of an overhead steel beam are set into a slight recess pared back into the timber so there is no bulge in the final wall finish. Times photo Marianne Kelly our hoMes today Pressure mounting on building sites Flat Bush growth Residential building growth in the Flat Bush/Ormiston area is on a par with the fastest-growing areas of the SuperCity, especially pockets of greenfield land at Silverdale in the north and Karaka in the south. “But Flat Bush is different because it has a history of growth,” Jeff Fahrensohn, Auckland Council’s manager inspections says. “ The infrastructure is already in place compared with some greenfields areas still needing a lot of infrastructure investment. “Development in this area [Flat Bush] started earlier. The former Manukau City Council (MCC) was forward thinking.” Think back to the MCC mayors, the late Sir Lloyd Elsmore; and the mayor preceding current Auckland mayor Len Brown, Sir Barry Curtis, and how they would see their plan coming together now. They kept the development going over the years so the south-east had a head start, he says.
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