The Building Practitioners Board has ordered a builder to pay $3,875 for negligent building work which caused defects in bricklaying work.

The builder was subcontracted to complete bricklaying work under a building consent. The builder employed three other workers to help him complete the work while he acted as a supervisor.

The builder ordered the three workers to complete the brickwork with a 5:1 ratio for the mortar mix, the material which holds the bricks together. The builder had not consulted anyone before instructing the workers to use that particular ratio, but said he understood it was standard industry practice.

The work passed an inspection and was issued a Code Compliance Certificate. However, the site was inspected again months later and the inspection report recorded numerous issues with the building work.

These issues included mortar joints that were outside the size limitations, the mortar joints had not been tooled smooth, incorrect door sill angles, loose bricks and weak mortar strength. It was recommended that the work be redone completely.

The work was remediated and the complainant made a claim to the Board. The Board had to determine whether the builder carried out or supervised building work in a negligent manner.

Negligence is defined as the departure of a building practitioner from the accepted standard of conduct while carrying out building work. The assessment is based on building practitioners with the same class of licence.

In this case, the Board decided that in giving directions for the building work, the builder was “carrying out” building work. The Board also found that a competent building practitioner would have identified the numerous and obvious issues with the building work that the builder had supervised, rather than simply relying on a past inspection.

Further, the Board decided that the builder had acted negligently when instructing his workers to use a 5:1 ratio for the mortar mix. Evidence showed that the standard industry practice was actually a 4:1 ratio, and the ratio given by the builder was not viable for the type of work being carried out. A competent building practitioner would have consulted authority before instructing that ratio.

The Board decided that these failures amounted to a departure from the standard of conduct expected from the class of building practitioners that the builder belonged to. The builder was ordered to pay a penalty of $2,000 as well as $1,875 in costs.

The Board has also ordered their decision to be published in the public register for a period of three years.

It is important to know your obligations as a 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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