Building quality – We need to be vigilant.

July 2015

A recent article in the New Zealand Herald (view article here: NZ Herald) stated that local Council inspectors are becoming increasingly frustrated at the poor quality of construction work that they are encountering. A spokesman for the council goes on to state that between “25 and 40% of all building inspections continue to fail”.

For those of us involved in the Building Surveying profession, this is not ‘news’ but the well-documented decline in core skills across the spectrum of trades. The so-called ‘leaky building’ issue was simply a symptom of a much wider building quality problem that manifested itself before some of the other defects came to the fore.

The reason for the decline in construction quality is complex, but can be variously attributed to the gradual retirement of skilled craftsmen, the removal of the Clerk of Works, the propensity of labour-only subcontractors, poorly-trained and de-motivated apprentices, poor supervision and a transient semi-skilled workforce including high numbers of overseas workers with limited understanding of New Zealand standards and compliance requirements.

With site managers dealing with labour, project managers concerned with progress and programme and Council inspectors only looking at compliance with the Building Consent who really is checking on quality? The reality is that probably 20-30% of all work completed on site is never viewed by anyone other than the tradesman actually doing it.

If we are to avoid a repetition of the weathertightness failures that became an unwelcome feature of the property market post 2000, then it is critical that all stakeholders in New Zealand construction and property address the current downward spiral in trade skills. At Babbage our Building Surveying team has the skills to ensure that your project meets the highest industry standards. To learn more about the services our Building Surveying team can provide visit our Building Surveying page here: Building Surveying


An example of poor workmanship.