Weathertight Remediation: An introduction for builders

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This is the last in a series of articles summarising a number of workshops on weathertight remediation for builders that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – Building and Housing group has been running around New Zealand. They outline some of the things a builder may need to consider before, during and after such a project. In this article we will be investigating where to from here for a builder who may be considering this line of work, or who is maybe just looking for more information on the whole subject.

Builders carry a latent risk on all construction projects, and leaky building remediation projects are no exception. Typically, we builders get our work through word of mouth or existing relationships. However, to secure this type of work it may be necessary to approach organisations not previously considered for new opportunities.

As raised previously, the qualification and experience of designers and those professionals involved is critical to minimising a builder’s risk and maximising the success of the overall project.

There are now many companies and individuals who specialise in services around remediation projects, who have varying skills and competence. Some of these may belong to industry bodies such as the NZIBS who have prerequisites for membership, provide training and a certification specifically related to such work.

I will always assess the suitability of those involved in a project, and I am not afraid to walk away if they are, in my view, not sufficiently skilled or experienced.

In some circumstances, the risk to me as a builder can be too great. There are also builders out there offering a “one-stop shop” option to building owners by effectively providing a design and build service. However, by doing so they take on the additional design risk, arguably significantly increasing their exposure as a whole.

The building industry has to adapt to changes to the Building Act, Building Code and Health and Safety compliance, to name but a few. With the Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) scheme, we don’t have a choice but to keep upskilled and abreast of these changes if we want to continue to do restricted work — which leaky building remediation most certainly usually is.

So where does a builder go to get more information or training regarding remediation work? The Building and Housing group runs various training courses for builders on an ongoing basis, such as the Weathertightness Induction Course, which may prove valuable.

The Building and Housing group also produces some very useful guides which, whilst not specifically targeted at builders, provide highly relevant information on many parts of the process.
These guides cover topics such as identifying the riskier features of a building, various investigation techniques, understanding the owner’s position, and design considerations.

These are available in hard copy and PDF formats from the Building and Housing group’s web site, details of which are listed below.

This web site also contains lots of other useful information on weathertightness issues, and provides helpful background not only for builders but also important information for home owners who may be unfortunate enough to own an affected property, such as outlining the eligibility criteria and process for the WHRS.

There are many examples of builders who have a successful business specialising in remediating leaky buildings, and we have tens of thousands of affected homes in New Zealand. We need many good builders to restore our housing stock. Remediating leaky buildings is a challenge, but also an opportunity.

Suggested follow up areas for more information

• Building and Housing web site: www.dbh.govt.nz/ws-info-for-building-professionals 

• The Building and Housing publications

• Guide to Remediation Design

• Guide to the Diagnosis of Leaky Buildings

• Dealing with Timber in Leaky Buildings

• Code Watch Issue 1: October 2011

• www.dbh.govt.nz/weathertightness-guides

• OSH Bulletin 17

• ACC Think Safety First kit

• Pink is Tough Guide

• The author: Harry Dillon has been involved with the repair of more than 300 homes as a builder over the past 10 years. This article represents Mr Dillon’s views which may not necessarily be the same as the Department’s.

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