The risks in cutting DIY corners

A recent High Court case highlights the costly consequences that can be incured when you do DIY work.

In Jerard v Auckland Council [2014] NZHC 2493 a couple inteded to build a house and did the preparatory ground work themselves. However, they never obtained a building consent for this work. They later engaged a builder who did obtain consent to build the house and a compliance code certificate was issued, but this did not cover the preparatory work.

The house was subsequently sold and the seller provided warranties under the sale and purchase agreement that all works undertaken had the required consent and were completed accordingly.

It was later discovered that the preparatory building work did not comply with the Building Code and required extensive remedial work.

The new owners were successful in suing the previous owners for a breach of warranties in the sale and purchase agreement.

The Court awarded the new owners $290,000 for this breach and an extra $15,000 of general damages for stress and anxiety caused by the experience.

The moral of the story is that if you do building work yourself, be aware that you have obligations under the Building Act to get the necessary consent for the work and to ensure that the work compalies with that consent. Even if no building consent is required, any building work carried out by an owner must nonetheless comply with the Building Code.

It also provides a reminder to be aware of the substantial warranties that exist in most standard form sale and purchase agreements.

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