The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
May 18, 2010

Lucky Leaky?

So: the government has upped its derisory previous 10% offer, to 25%. This is much the same as what one of one avid readers, m-d, was saying some time ago, when we last blogged on the subject. Its good to see that the Fish is so influential as to be having an effect on Government policy. ;-) Sadly of course, they missed out the best bit from m-d:

“My solution, seeing as you all asked, is for the govt to set up a building team specifically for repairing the homes. The teams make no money beyond covering administration, labour, and material costs – thereby removing some of the profiteering from the situation, and significantly reducing the cost of the work. The much lower cost of the work is shouldered by a split between the govt, designers (insurance), and the homeowners… If private businesses could tender lower than the govt teams, then all the better, but I suggest that they would need some incentive such as this to lower their prices (if they could)…

The teams are quickly disbanded after the problem is resolved. (as a bonus, it would appear that the govt was creating jobs in a time of need also – although this would be a mischevious interpretation).

Addresses designer responsibility, government responsibility, and caveat emptor… beautiful… what’s not to like?”

Bernard Hickey comments about the leaky home deal here.
Is it a good deal? Probably not.
Is it the best deal that Leaky home owners are likely to get? Probably yes.
Do the Councils support it? It appears so.
Are the lawyers happy? Amusingly, of course not. They won’t get a cut of anything if people accept this deal and stop trying to sue councils etc.

“I’m not going to be telling the clients that they should effectively take only 25 percent from the council when if they go through the courts they can get 100 percent from the council.”

Is the whole thing a media beat up? (as per H Clark comments circa 2004?) No, but to some extent, yes. Look: there’s a massive problem here, accepted. Is it getting any better at all with the involvement of lawyers? Well, check out this particular report, which notes:

“There are between 22,000 and 89,000 homes around New Zealand that are leaky. A report prepared for the Government last year said repair bills were typically around $110,000 in each case, including $75,000 for legal bills, $15,000 on design and $10,000 each on experts and consequential costs.”

That’s shocking ! If those figures are anywhere near being correct (and I have no idea if they are), then a little bit of maths reveals that the actual repair costs are, umm, 75 plus 15 plus 10 times 2 = umm, carry the 1 and = ooh, look, it’s free! That should keep some people happy!
Sadly, I think we can dismiss those figures as completely wrong or mis-quoted, and totally missing the actual amount of work required to rebuild the home. However, it is still indicative of the amount that the lawyers get. What a pointless exercise to go through. Cut the lawyers out and get on with the job.

Seamonkey Madness
18 - 05 - 10

Amen!

The solutions process sans lawyers will make it easier on eveyone (except the aforementionrd weasels). There will still be people out there who will ‘sue’, but in the end, we are ALL paying for this monumental f-up (taxes AND rates).

m-d
18 - 05 - 10

I thought the best bit was where I said that construction/design professionals should stump up with the other 25%!!

Maximus
18 - 05 - 10

no, that was your worst bit. If that is brought in, there won’t be any “construction / design professionals” left !
There’s no insurance cover as it is for architects for any leaks, and there is no profit in any of the “professions” so if that was the case, they’d all just pack up their bags and head for a very dry part of Australia. Which is most of it. ie, anywhere except Tasmania…

I still maintain that the issue is not one of design professionals, but of construction, legislation, and certification.
The use of kiln-dried untreated timber – expounded in the trade magazines at the time – permitted and promoted by Government. In retrospect, no-one should have thought to use it. But at the time, I’m sure that if it appeared in the official publications (and was being promoted in the official specifications) then why wouldn’t people have used it?

m-d
18 - 05 - 10

I’m don’t really want to go over my arguments again, except to say that this is so obviously a case of the blind leading the blind. Now it might be that the wheels fell off at a legislative level, but that doesn’t absolve the professionals who should not have been similarly blind as to be led down that path. We expect professionals to be, well… professional – experts in their own profession…

This is in effect, the govt asking – no, requiring – ratepayers and taxpayers to bail out the construction industry (who do ‘profit’ even if it is on a cyclical basis). That means property owning NZers who resisted the great mono-clad wonders of the 90s are having to pay up, not once, but twice for those who indulged. I guess that is all well and fair, given the recent assistance we ‘gave’ to the financial industry – but at some point we’re going to have to stop this nasty little trend of privatising the profits and socialising the losses. If an industry goes down in the process, so be it – it will rise again in a reconfigured, and no doubt much more effective form at the end of such a process…

60 MPa
18 - 05 - 10

As one in the trade who looked at all that spray plaster crap back in the when (and avoided it), I now find the ultra-cautious WCC approach ends up costing me and hence my clients much more.
Whatever was done in the 80’s to the old buggers who knew what worked and what didn’t left an essential bulwark out of the net that would catch out the Flash Harrys with their untreated malarky and houses you could break into with a sharp knife.

Far be it for me to lament the loss of the odd cardigan-wearing old git – I’m more upset that Ronny James Dio has died.

One effect of this on the design profession that will show in time is monolithic but not quite in the same sense. Whilst the councils are absolutely paranoid to allow anything that deviates from the acceptable solution and architects are cut to the bone on margins then outliers or more creative alternatives will diminish in frequency leading to a set period look to houses of this era we are in now.

It’s a bit like that shade of grey that people went for so much that you can now look at a villa and say “mid-grey and ochre – last painted between 2003 and 2008” if you know what I mean.

I suspect that we are hellbound for homogeneity.