Notable decision against a carpentry LBP

Posted: 23 March 2017

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The Building Practitioners Board (the Board) recently passed down a sanction to an LBP. The Board has chosen to name the LBP due to the seriousness of the matter.

In decision number C2-01409, Grant Tromp, an LBP licensed in carpentry, was contracted by a home owner to carry out alterations and to build an extension on an existing house. Mr Tromp did not obtain a building consent for the work and failed to carry out the building work to an appropriate standard, resulting in him being disciplined and his licence cancelled.

The Board upheld two grounds for discipline:

  • negligence or incompetence – failing to comply with building consent requirements, and building work
  • working outside one’s competence.

Negligence or incompetence – failing to comply with building consent requirements

Mr Tromp was initially engaged under a ‘design and build’ contract to carry out renovations to a kitchen area. Because he thought Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 (building work that does not require a building consent) applied to the work, he did not think a building consent was required. Mr Tromp subsequently provided the home owner with other concept plans and was then also engaged to extend and enclose an existing porch into a new room.

However, a building consent was required for the kitchen renovation because the hot water cylinder and associated plumbing work was not exempt under Schedule 1 (see page 89 of the ‘Building work that does not require a building consent’ guidance). The extension and porch enclosure also required a building consent because it was also not covered by any of the exemptions in Schedule 1 (see page 50 of the guidance).

The Board found that Mr Tromp was negligent in that he did not obtain a building consent for this work as required under the Building Act 2004.

Building work that does not require a building consent

Negligence or incompetence – building work

There were significant concerns with the construction of the extension and enclosure and the Board found that Mr Tromp failed to comply with both the Building Code and NZS 3604:2011 (the relevant standard).

There were significant shortcomings with the flashing and joinery installation, which was not weathertight. Sill flashings had been left out and only sealant had been used to waterproof cladding junctions. The roof framing and subfloor framing construction were not within the scope of NZS 3604:2011 because the spans used were too large for the framing members installed. An engineer should have been engaged, or different construction methods should have been used.

The Board found that Mr Tromp had also been negligent with respect to the work he carried out in the extension.

Working outside one’s competence

Mr Tromp was an LBP licensed in carpentry. He did not think the work required a building consent and, as such, he thought it was not restricted building work. He therefore undertook the design as well. He said he purposely designed the extension and enclosure of the porch to fit within Schedule 1. Mr Tromp did not draw his construction details from Acceptable Solutions or other tried and tested construction methods. The design and construction details used by Mr Tromp did not comply with the Building Code.

Ultimately, the Board found that he worked outside his competence when he carried out the design work. A competent designer would have ensured better construction design and elements were used in the extension and would have identified that building consent was required for the work undertaken.

What we can learn from this decision

Failure to correctly interpret Schedule 1 was a major part of the process breakdown in this circumstance. If a building consent had been obtained, the compliance process would have identified the design deficiencies and they would have been corrected. As this decision clearly illustrates, carpenters and other trades should not take on the role of designer.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has produced guidance on Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 that is worth reading if you are considering undertaking exempt building work. Remember that if you are in doubt as to whether the intended building work will come within Schedule 1 or not it is best to seek advice from an authoritative source.

Building work that does not require a building consent has further information.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: