The Building Practitioners Board has recently ordered a builder to pay $5,500 for completing work outside of his competence.

The builder carried out a number of renovations on a property, not under a building consent. The owner of the property complained that the builder’s conduct and work itself had a number of deficiencies.

The builder’s alleged failures included not considering whether a building consent was required, failing to consider whether other workers on site were qualified, completing work outside of his expertise, and failing to comply with legal codes.

The Board had to determine whether the builder had carried out building work in a negligent or incompetent manner, had acted outside the scope of his competence, and whether the builder’s actions had brought the profession into disrepute.

The Board decided that the builder did not complete any work outside of the existing building consent. This meant that the builder was therefore not required to provide a further consent. The Board also decided that while the builder’s work had some minor defects, these were not sufficient to justify a finding of negligence or incompetence.

The next issue was whether the builder had completed work outside of his competence. This required first looking at whether the builder knew, or ought to have known, that people working on the site were not eligible to complete the work that they were doing.

The Board decided that the builder was not at fault for not inquiring into the onsite workers’ qualifications. However, the builder himself had completed plumbing work which he was not qualified to do by law. Therefore, the builder had acted outside the scope of his competence.

Finally, the Board had to determine whether the builder’s actions had brought the profession into disrepute. Particularly, the builder had threatened to charge, and later actually charged, the owner of the property a fee for complaining to the Board.

The Board decided that no builder is justified in implementing a fee, or threatening to do so, on the basis that the customer might complain of their conduct. However, given that the primary focus for charging the fee in this case was commercial, implementing the fee was not, in and of itself, disreputable.

The builder was charged with completing work outside his competence. The Board emphasised that this is a serious offence for a licensed building practitioner.

The builder was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000, as well as costs of $3,500.

It is important to be aware of your 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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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors