The Building Practitioners Board has recently ordered a builder to pay $6,000 after he failed to obtain a building consent before carrying out work. The Board decided that the builder’s actions amounted to negligence.

The builder carried out work on a residential property. He built an outbuilding which was intended to be used as a salon. The builder believed that he did not need a building consent for the work as an exception applied.

Building work does not need a consent where the building is a detached building:

a.    Not more than one storey; and

b.    Is between 10 and 30 metres squared; and

c.     Is built using lightweight products; and

d.    Does not contain sanitary or potable water facilities; and

e.    Does not include sleeping accommodation, unless used in connection with a dwelling and does not have cooking facilities; and

f.      If it includes sleeping accommodation, has smoke alarms installed.

The Board had to determine whether this exception actually applied to the building work.

The Board decided that the building, which was built as a salon, had both sanitary and potable water facilities. The building had a shower base, a vanity and a kitchenette unit. The builder was aware of these facilities.

The builder argued that because he did not do the plumbing work himself, a building consent was not needed until that work was to be completed. The Board decided that this would not make sense as it would require a building consent to be granted in retrospect, after the work had already commenced.

The Board decided that the exception did not apply and therefore the builder had failed to obtain a building consent. The builder should have known (and correctly applied) the exception, or obtained professional advice if there was any doubt.

The Board also decided that the work itself had been carried out incorrectly and included a number of defects. The builder argued that due to the COVID-19 pandemic he could not access a lot of the materials he required.

An inability to obtain products is not a defence. The builder’s actions therefore fell below an acceptable standard of work and those failures were serious.

The Board decided that the builder had carried out building work in a negligent manner, both in failing to obtain a building consent and for carrying out building work in a non-compliant manner.

The builder was ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 as well as costs of $3,500.

As a Licensed Building Practitioner, it is important to be aware of your obligations before carrying out building work. If you are confused about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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