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Remediation

This is the term commonly used to describe the process of repairing, restoring or upgrading a building to make it code compliant. There are two possibilities: targeted repairs or a full reclad. These are discussed at length on the "Obtaining a CCC page". In order to decide which is appropriate for your situation, hopefully you will have had a thorough investigation completed as described on the "Reports and Surveys" page. Following the recommendations in that report, the process will follow roughly the same path for both targeted repairs and a full reclad, however there are two preliminary matters that need to be sorted out before you get started:

1) Do you need a building consent? And

2) Are you hoping to get anyone who was involved in the original construction to hand over some money towards the cost of the remediation?

What can be done without a building consent?

The short answer is, not much - without obtaining Council's blessing one way or another. Exempt building work - work which which does not require consent - is covered in Schedule 1 of the Building Act, but (typically of a statute) somewhat confusingly does this by using double negatives. It starts off by saying: "That's okay, you don't need a building consent for simple maintenance, and that means you can replace stuff too". Sounds good. But then it gets into limiting the definition, by spelling out what sorts of maintenance that, after all, you do, need to get a building consent for.

In particular, if you need to work on something which has failed to comply with the building code, generally you need a consent. Which makes sense - independent monitoring will hopefully mean it doesn't fail this time around. So, for example, if your cladding is less than 15 years old and it is leaking - you should obtain a building consent to fix it, unless it really can be fixed with "normal" maintenance (the sort of thing an average home owner can do).

But if the roof is more than 15 years old and you decide to replace it because it looks like it needs it even though it has been working ok - then you don't need a consent unless you plan to replace it with something significantly different. e.g replacing a corrugated iron roof with concrete tiles: for that, you need a consent as tiles are much heavier.

Replacing a few rotton weatherboards on an old villa - no problem, there was no building act in force when those boards went on.

If in doubt - check with Council. The latest version of Schedule 1 (download it here) comes with a useful guidance document (here). Section 2 gives the Council lots of discretion to let you do things, just ask.

 

Hoping to recover money?

If the original work was done less than 10 years ago, you may be thinking of trying to recover money from those involved in the original construction. If this is the case, the whole process needs an additional layer of attention. Essentially, it can be broken into two parts:

1) Collecting evidence and presenting this

2) Everything else

That sounds nice and simple but in practice it has proved to be a bit of a minefield, and since 2012 there is increasing pressure for the practice of one person or firm doing everything to change. The problem is that the collection and presentation of evidence is supposed to be as independent as possible - in this country (unlike USA) experts as meant to be neutral, impartial, in short NOT advocates for the client who hires them. And what "evidence" are we talking about here? Well, anything and everything that is relevant to the process of considering the case - so that includes NOT ONLY evidence of what went wrong originally, but also evidence of what is required to fix it, i.e. the remedial plan. This is because anyone who is being expected to pay for the remediation is going to need to be convinced that the remedial works are reasonable, and not "too much"

Whereas the development of the remedial plans and specifications is inevitably driven by the client, who quite possibly (and understandably) may not care overly much for the "respondents"

The WHRS process attempts to solve this by providing what is generally acknowledged to be an independent service: the Assessor does his investigation and comes up with the minimum scope of works required to fix the problem. If you the client thinks they have got it wrong, or want more, no problem, you engage a consultant to do their own investigation, to reach their own conclusions on what needs to be done. But then you need to stop and think!

If you then use the same firm to prepare the plans and specifications you want, AND you still want to use them as "expert" supporting your argument that the Assessor got it wrong.... warning bells should be sounding. That's when others may say: "Hang on, that person / firm has a conflict of interests - it is clearly in their interests to produce a "generous" scope of works to keep you happy and earn themselves a nice fat commission while doing it - they are simply not impartial in this matter"

So what can you do? Increasingly, we see the consultant's role starting out just like the WHRS Assessor's: undertaking the investigation, collecting the evidence, preparing a scope of works to fix the problems.....and then stepping aside while the client organises someone else (an architect / draftsperson) to prepare the plans and specifications to the client's requirements. However, the consultant can do more than the WHRS Assessor, that additional work might include peer reviewing plans for weathertightness details and at the same time identifying all the areas of betterment......but this can be (and, we say, should be) done at arms length, and we suggest this consultant should take no part in the obtaining if the building consent, letting of the tender, contract administration, or project management.

Once the contract is started, the consultant can come back on board, visiting the site to collect evidence and (working completely independently) puts this evidence together (including clearly identified betterment) to present at whatever dispute forum is chosen.

At first glance this may look like just more work for consultants: "Are you telling me now I have to pay TWO of these blood suckers? On top of the lawyers?!?" Well, no, of course you don't - you can take the risk of just paying one lot to do everything. Talk to your lawyer about this. However, if the above makes any kind of sense, you might start thinking about where you can save money elsewhere - is there any part if this monopoly that might be broken? Is there anyone else that could produce remedial designs that will work?

 

Select someone to be in charge of the process

One way or another - consent or no consent - you need someone to be responsible. This could be an engineer, architect or building surveyor - or possibly even the home owner. This person needs to have the experience, confidence and credibility to take control and coordinate everything. It could be the person who just did the report (if there is no dispute to resolve). Depending on the extent of the work to be done, Council may take some convincing the person you have in mind has what it takes. If you plan to do it without a consent - obtain buy in (in writing) from Council. Don't commit to anyone before checking your local Council will accept them being in charge. You might want help making this first step - in which case HOBANZ could be a good place to start. On the "Other consultants" page I have put a few of my own (biased) comments on some of the main players in Auckland.

Meet with Council

I recommend this at a very early stage. Unless the person in charge has already done this many times, it is worth it and absolutely essential if you are proposing "targeted" repairs or have someone in mind to be in charge that Council is not familiar with. Council would far rather make time to meet you for a general discussion early on rather than have you turn up with a proposal they have to reject. The areas which Council may want the person in charge to be responsible for vary from just certifying the extent of the decayed framing that has to be replaced right up to issuing a Producer Statement for the whole job. This can become a game of "Pass the Risk" where the various parties attempt to deflect as much risk as possible. Again, it is preferable to get this sorted out early on. Generally, the more "Acceptable Solutions" that are proposed, the less risk there is for everyone. Most Councils have now adopted a form of "Quality Assurance" to satisfy themselves remedial work and reclads are done properly.

Describe the work

This must be done is sufficient detail for everyone involved to be sure the proposed works will meet the relevant performance requirements of the building code. To do this a combination of drawings, specifications and technical literature is usually required.

Find and engage someone to do the work

There are now quite a large number of builders specialising in remediation. They will probably have their own category in the yellow pages soon. For a reclad, the person organising the project should have prepared a full set of tender and contract documents to send out to selected builders. These documents will separate out the areas which it is not reasonable to quote on - and they are generally quite small, just the actual replacement of decayed framing, as this cannot be quantified with certainty prior to the cladding coming off. Everything can either be quoted for or set aside via "provisional sums" and "prime costs". This enables a good comparison to be made between the various builders who are also required to disclose their charge out rates and margins for the "charge up" work (the framing replacement).

Pay

The hard part. From the point at which the building consent is issued, the job becomes similar to a "normal" construction project, which means writing out schedules at regular intervals. One difference might be if the contract has been set up to give the "engineer" or "architect" significant additional powers, in which case this person acts as a sort of clerk of works - a bit like having a building inspector come almost every day. This in addition to the inspections carried out by the Council.

Getting it signed off

This is only going to happen if all the steps above have been followed. There are no short cuts to getting a Code Compliance Certificate. All the parties involved share responsibility for the work to a greater or lesser extent: who has to provide what in terms of paperwork at the end should have been sorted out at consent stage. At the very least, the person agreed to by Council will be signing off on the framing - certifying it, in effect. The final straw is that Council is empowered by Law to withhold the CCC until you pay every last cent outstanding to them.