Cutting costs?

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New Zealand is experiencing a well-publicised high level of demand for construction services at the moment. But is this increased demand compromising the quality of the homes we are producing? While we would hope not, Amanda Saxton suggests that building inspectors are telling a different story, and are said to be experiencing an increased volume of cost-saving shortcuts in newly-built houses.

Saxton says that this so called ‘crisis’ can be boiled down to three principle issues:

  • A ‘glut’ of inexperienced but comparatively cheap tradesmen who have recently saturated the construction sector during this high-demand period.
  • The influx of substandard steel being used to reinforce concrete floors, much of which is being imported at low-cost from Asia. This defective steel is supposedly slipping under the radar because it is impossible to tell the difference between quality mesh from cheap substitutes simply by sight, and the price differential between them has made it too tempting for construction workers to turn down.
  • The growing amount of building supplies being sourced from overseas wholesaler websites, like Ali Baba, without any quality certification.

From a legal perspective, it is likely that we will see more of these issues filter into the court system. One prominent example at the moment is the representative action suit targeting manufacturers and suppliers of faulty steel mesh. Over 100 applications have been made to join this particular action brought by Adina Thorn against mesh suppliers.

While it is unclear whether these concerns will materialise into something more concrete, if these cost-cutting practices are as prevalent as has been suggested, costs saved in the short term may be outweighed by the cost of disputes further down the line.

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