The Building Practitioners Board has decided that a builder did not complete building work negligently or incompetently, because he had been instructed by a person of authority to install weatherboards incorrectly.

A number of issues arose in relation to the builder’s work, including matters to do with weatherboards, window flashings and balustrade connections. A claim was made to the Board that the builder had acted negligently or incompetently in relation to those issues.

The Board dealt with each of the issues separately, beginning with the weatherboards. The Board had to determine whether the weatherboards had been installed contrary to the building consent, and then whether they were installed negligently or incompetently.

The Board accepted that the weatherboards had not been installed according to the building consent. However, the builder argued that the Building Control Officer instructed him to install the boards that way during an inspection. The issue was not mentioned in later inspections.

The reliance on an instruction from a person of authority can be a defence to incorrect building work.

No record of the Officer’s instruction was made, however one of the builder’s employees said that he heard the instruction being given. The Officer denied making the comment, but another Officer accepted that the instruction could have been given and not recorded.

The Board decided that on the balance of probabilities, it could not find that the Officer had not given the instructions regarding the weatherboards. Therefore, the builder was entitled to rely on those instructions and had not acted negligently or incompetently.

The Board then had to determine whether the work relating to the window flashings was negligent or incompetent. The issues included missing stop ends, gaps in sealant foam and flashing not turned up.

The builder explained that stop ends may have gone missing from other trades on the property, and that flashings were not turned up as they could damage other areas of building work. The Board accepted these reasons and decided that the builder’s failings were not serious enough to justify disciplinary action.

Finally, the Board had to consider the balustrade connections. Evidence was provided to the Board which showed that the builder had not actually worked on or supervised the work on the balustrade. Therefore, the builder was not responsible for those issues.

The Board decided that the builder had not acted negligently or incompetently and therefore no disciplinary action was taken against him. The complaints were dismissed.

It is important to be aware of your professional obligations as a Licensed Building Practitioner. If you are confused about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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