Memories of the nineties ‘leaky homes’ scandal remain fresh in the minds of many homeowners and ratepayers who are still paying the price.
Residents in a swanky $700 million Auckland housing project have been ordered to vacate their homes amid fears they are structurally unsafe.
Urgent remedial work is now under way on 22 homes in Kensington Park at Orewa amid concerns about "bracing elements" in 11 buildings.
Bringing the properties up to required standards is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Auckland Council, which signed off the dwellings, was alerted to problems in February after the developer Kensington Properties reviewed design documents and identified the structural problems.
"They contacted us to advise they had some concerns about some bracing elements to a group of buildings built under 11 separate consents, and were voluntarily undertaking work to remedy this," said council building control weathertightness and compliance manager Sally Grey.
"The works were not as a result of any actual failure of the buildings that we are aware of."
The repairs were due to be done early next month. The developer would then apply for retrospective certification.
Ms Grey said the council granted affected buildings code compliance certificates between October 2013 and June 2015 on the advice of experts.
Council building control general manager Ian McCormick said the council relied on the expertise of certified engineers to confirm work met the building code.
One of the prime drivers of expensive housing in Auckland, but New Zealand in general, is the cost of compliance with Council regulations and building codes. Given that it costs so much, and delays so many projects, to get code compliance certificates, the public should be able to have confidence that their new property is ‘fit for purpose’. That they cannot is a scandal, and yet another blot on Council’s record.
Fobbing off responsibility to ‘certified engineers’ is simply not good enough.