Recently, the High Court has ruled that Hyun Su Park, who had no relevant experience or qualifications when he built a 3 storey home in Auckland in the early 2000s, is liable to the new owners for negligently misstating that the works complied with the building code at the time of construction.
Mr Park emigrated from Korea in the mid-90s, where he had worked at a chemical company. He retrained in computing, as a pilot, and subsequently as a handyman before he built the home for himself and his wife. Four or five years after the property was sold in 2002, the new owners discovered leaks. The house requires almost a total rebuild, with full reclad, replacement of roofing and decking materials, and internal walls and ceiling linings required.
While it seems mind boggling that Mr Park was able to build the property without any previous experience – he attested that he did not understand the meaning of the producer statements he signed, simply that he couldn’t get a code compliance certificate without them – the more concerning factor is that the building received a code compliance certificate, and prior to purchase the new owners obtained a building report that the property was satisfactory to buy.
Following the leaky building crisis, there have been revamps of the system. Councils have been urged to avoid undue reliance on producer statements. The Court acknowledged that the producer statements provided by Mr Park would no longer be accepted by the Auckland Council, if submitted today – additional measures have been imposed to safeguard processes, including the requirement that for certain works, producer statements only be accepted from persons on an approved register. Further, today, any structural building work or weathertightness work in relation to residential housing must be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner.