The last building report in Auckland I prepared was on the very interesting project of a large commercial office building being erected in the middle of an area contaminated with asbestos. The original building plan had been agreed upon in 2006 by the developer and his architect’s but it was not until over two and a half years later that the building had finally gone up for approval. It is my sincere belief that the delays in getting the building permit were primarily responsible for the eventual failure of the project. If only the local council and its building Licensing Branch would have been more responsive to the concerns of the developers I believe the building would have met all of its legal obligations and enjoyed the necessary certificate of occupancy sooner.
My final building report in Auckland concentrates on the problems I encountered with the licencing department while preparing the report. Having undertaken several similar reports in the past, I have become very familiar with the processes required to obtain building permits in Auckland. While the final analysis of the risk associated with the proposed building can be complex and detailed, my main focus has been on the need for asbestos testing prior to commencing construction on the building site. This is a risk that I believe all developers should consider and prepare for.
For several years I have also worked as a consultant to the Ministry of Business, Employment and Social Development in New Zealand. My position, as a consultant has meant that I have had direct access to the application process for building permit applications and the subsequent assessment of the contractor’s compliance history with the various building laws and regulations. It is my sincere belief that the Ministry of Business, Employment and Social Development in New Zealand needs to take additional measures to protect the interests of the public when considering the granting of building licenses. These measures should include encouraging developers to get the building permit earlier rather than later. I believe this would give the general public more time to make comments and recommendations to the MBIEZ concerning the application of asbestos containing materials.
Unfortunately have been supportive of asbestos testing for new construction projects in the past, my view of the situation today is more negative than positive. Asbestos containing materials are still being used by many building providers in Auckland. I believe this is because the cost associated with asbestos removal is not economic for contractors. The use building report in Auckland often leads to recommendation of further testing, which again adds to the costs of asbestos removal and remediation. While I am certain the costs of asbestos removal and remediation are nothing compared to the health and financial impact of not removing asbestos, the increased level of uncertainty surrounding the legal liabilities involved makes it appear to me that builders may prefer to wait and see rather than commence the process of asbestos testing and removal.
There is no doubt that building report in Auckland contain information that some people may find of great concern. As I have stated previously, I am strongly supportive of the use of asbestos containing materials in building construction but I also think that the MBIEZ (Ministry of Building Industry zonal) should take a more active role in ensuring that the correct standards of safety are maintained throughout the industry. I believe the MBIEZ needs to work closely with the Ministry of Construction and Building Registration to increase the monitoring of asbestos containing materials in buildings. Jim’s Building Inspections should also work closely with the construction Registry to ensure the information provided on building reports in Auckland accurately reflects the current standards of safety and asbestos use in the industry. Jim’s Building Inspections should also encourage the use of qualified professionals when undertaking asbestos containing material testing or removal projects.
In conclusion, I believe that the situation regarding the use of asbestos containing materials in buildings in New Zealand is still unclear. It is my belief that the Jim’s Building Inspections needs to take a greater role in ensuring that asbestos containing materials are removed correctly and safely from buildings. If the MBIEZ is unable to do so, I believe the asbestos containing material manufacturers and sellers should be investigated closely by the Ministry of Business, Employment and Social Development for failing to meet their obligations in terms of safety and protection of employees and workers from asbestos related diseases. Jim’s Building Inspections should work closely with the Ministry of Building Industry and Building Registration to monitor the removal of asbestos containing materials from buildings where there have been new construction for more than three years only.Jim’s Building Inspections should work in conjunction with healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, dental staff, builders and contractors. I recommend the use of trained asbestos removal professionals. This would give a more accurate and fair estimate of the cost of asbestos containing material removal from a building. The MBIEZ should also consider the effect of changing asbestos containing materials on individuals with long term exposure such as pregnant women and children and elderly individuals.