This has created the present leaky building fiasco, a problem which has affected comfortable assumptions of living in a safe and healthy environment.
Not only have these leaks proved hard to remedy, but the cost in endeavouring to overcome the difficulties is huge. In July 2010 the repair costs were estimated to range from somewhere between $5.9 and $22.9 billion, affecting some 22,000 to 89,000 homes. The true cost may well exceed this by a significant margin. There is also an emotional and social cost, which is not fully yet understood.
What the government is and isn’t doing
Successive governments have struggled to find a cost effective and timely way of dealing with the issue. The National Government (leading up to the most recent election) have offered a financial contribution towards the cost to rectify, payable to homeowners who are eligible to apply. It remains interesting however, that the offer comes on terms. This includes an undertaking not to hold the Government liable for losses.
Untying the knots
The New Zealand Legal Research Foundation has recently recognised existing legal processes struggle to produce efficient and fair outcomes in addressing the complex legal issues that arise out of these disputes. New law is developing around areas such as liability for negligent construction of commercial and mixed use developments, as well as facilitating of repairs of multi-unit developments.
The Leaky Buildings Crisis – Understanding the Issues is a book addressing immediate issues of immediate concern. The text is a courageous endeavour to gather together expertise from different disciplines to address the current issues. It is hoped that the book will have broad appeal and assist in understanding both the scope and difficulties of the leaky building phenomenon, and thus aid in its ultimate resolution. I might boldly suggest however, we are nowhere yet close to cutting the Gordian knot.
Barrister and Senior Lecturer (AUT Law School, Auckland)
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