Building stumbling blocks focus of review

By Sophie Price

1 comment
Mayor Peter Butler emailed builders personally asking for feedback.
Mayor Peter Butler emailed builders personally asking for feedback.

The issues plaguing the Central Hawke's Bay council's building department are potentially costing local tradesmen work, a local industry pundit says.

Last year, concerns about the plight of industry members came to a head with mayor Peter Butler stepping in to address them personally.

In a letter penned to the 60 tradespeople on the council's Building Consent Authority's (BCA) mailing list, Mr Butler asked people to "write or email" him directly if they had a complaint.

"The only thing I can take from a 'no reply' is that you are happy with the service we provide," he wrote at the time.

Architectural draftsman Paul du Fresne, who has spent 52 years in the industry both in New Zealand and overseas, said, while he had only been living in CHB for two years, he had spent 16 years there "in a prior life".

"I know builders who can cite two or three clients who have decided to build elsewhere in another territorial authority because it was all too hard here, which is driving people away from the place," he said.

Mr Du Fresne said, while the head of the Building Consent Authority, Jock Hyde, has a job to do, he has enjoyed a good working relationship with him.

"It's more why there are so many stumbling blocks that go with the process," he said. "And if the dam does go ahead, there is going to be a flood of stuff and it is going to hit the wall."

"Why don't they have this problem in Napier, why does it cost so much to process it here in comparison with Hastings and Napier?"

CHB council's chief executive John Freeman responded saying the council was committed to assisting with the growth of the district and its communities.

A review of the authority, announced last week, was designed to look at how it was functioning, including whether it was meeting customer expectations and legislative requirements, as well as protecting home owners and ensuring ratepayers did not foot the bill for poor building practices as has been seen with the leaky home situation, Mr Freeman said.

The results would assist in ensuring that the authority was in a strong position to handle the increased building activities "once the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme goes ahead".

Last year, at Mr Butler's blanket request to the industry, Mr du Fresne submitted a letter highlighting what he perceived the issues were.

"It used to be that building inspectors were assumed, more often than not, to have served their time in a building-related trade and were able to come on site, talk directly to the tradesmen in their own lingo. [Now] the tradies view city hall with suspicion and mistrust."

Mr du Fresne said there needs to be an open and honest forum on the issue.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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