Build­ing war­rants warn­ing

Crack­down:

Otago Daily Times - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID LOUGHREY david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

THE Dunedin City Coun­cil is crack­ing down on build­ing war­rants of fit­ness in the wake of the Gren­fell Tower dis­as­ter.

The move fol­lows about 200 prop­erty own­ers across Dunedin fail­ing to get them in time in the past year.

The coun­cil will is­sue fines and ‘‘no­tices to fix’’ ear­lier than it has in the past when build­ings are un­war­ranted.

The changes have been mostly wel­comed by the Otago branch of the Prop­erty Coun­cil New Zealand, but have con­cerned a Dunedin com­mer­cial build­ing owner.

Coun­cil build­ing com­pli­ance of­fi­cer Cory Barnes said the coun­cil had al­ready been con­sid­er­ing the is­sue when the Gren­fell in­ci­dent oc­curred, but ‘‘that def­i­nitely brought into line why we were do­ing this’’.

‘‘We’re do­ing it for the safety of oc­cu­pants of Dunedin build­ings.’’

The 24­storey Gren­fell Tower fire in Bri­tain in June last year caused 72 deaths.

The rapid spread of the fire was blamed on the build­ing’s flammable ex­te­rior cladding,

Mr Barnes said the changes meant com­mer­cial prop­erty own­ers would need to act more quickly to make sure their build­ings met re­quired stan­dards.

The Build­ing Act 2004 re­quired own­ers of build­ings to sup­ply coun­cils with an an­nual build­ing war­rant of fit­ness (BWOF).

Its pur­pose was to make sure sys­tems listed in the com­pli­ance sched­ule, such as sprin­klers and lifts, were work­ing as they should.

At present, the process gave build­ing own­ers up to three months with an un­war­ranted build­ing be­fore a no­tice to fix was is­sued, and close to six months be­fore they re­ceived an in­fringe­ment no­tice.

Un­der the new process, from Jan­uary 1 next year own­ers would re­ceive re­minder let­ters one month be­fore and one month af­ter the BWOF ex­piry date.

At two months af­ter ex­piry, own­ers would re­ceive a no­tice to fix and a $250 fine for fail­ing to sup­ply a BWOF.

If no progress had been made by four months af­ter the ex­piry date, there would be a fur­ther fine of $1000 for fail­ing to com­ply with the no­tice to fix.

The coun­cil had writ­ten to own­ers of the 1500 build­ings af­fected to ad­vise them of the change.

Mr Barnes said, in spe­cial cir­cum­stances, com­pli­ance of­fi­cers had dis­cre­tion to grant ex­ten­sions of time or to hold off is­su­ing in­fringe­ment no­tices.

Prop­erty Coun­cil New Zealand Otago Chap­ter chair­man Ge­off Thomas said it was good to see it would be en­forced sen­si­bly.

‘‘It’s also good to see they have a dis­cre­tion for spe­cial cir­cum­stances.’’

Mr Thomas said one of the rea­sons 200 build­ing own­ers had been late in the past 12 months could have been be­cause it was dif­fi­cult to hire the re­quired qual­i­fied peo­ple needed to sign off com­pli­ance.

Each as­pect of build­ing safety, such as lifts and fire safety, re­quired dif­fer­ent peo­ple.

How­ever, he hoped that sit­u­a­tion might be one in which coun­cil com­pli­ance of­fi­cers had dis­cre­tion to grant time ex­ten­sions.

Dunedin build­ing owner Stephen Macknight said the coun­cil had to be care­ful. Rather than act like build­ing po­lice, it needed to work with own­ers.

Re­quire­ments were not al­ways clear and par­ties needed to work to­gether.

❛ We’re do­ing it for the safety of oc­cu­pants of

Dunedin build­ings

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