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Disputes

Under the provisions of the Building Act and the NZBC, a contractor who undertakes to do work on a building implies that he can produce an effective and sound result which will fulfil its intended purpose.

There is a customer expectation, backed by consumer legislation, that the finished work will leave the building weathertight, and the work done will comply with the NZBC and will be to a standard that is described as “acceptable trade practice”.

“Acceptable trade practice” and “good trade practice” for the Roofing Industry are both described and contained in this Code of Practice. In addition to any contractual or verbal offer there may also be a written obligation given in the form of a warranty. See Material Selection.

All contractors should ensure that materials they use comply with the requirements and specifications contained within this Code of Practice. All suppliers’ or manufacturers’ product literature should be dated; and where superseding previous literature the dates should be referenced. The user must ensure that suppliers or manufacturers product literature is the latest version published.

Contractors must be satisfied that the product as described in the product literature is acceptable to the Territorial Authority, and contractors must be aware of their liability under law and the contractual documents they have signed or agreed to.

Customer expectation is supported by law that states that the material and product used must be fit for its intended purpose, and the liability of each of the parties is assessed on their ‘failure to warn that the product would not fulfil a perceived function".

Poor workmanship is a common cause of dispute and it is often given as the reason for non-payment between the sub-contractor and contractor or owner. This Code of Practice provides a standard of workmanship and a benchmark for arbitration.

It is in the interest of all parties to avoid the cost and delay of litigation and although there are other voluntary ways to settle disputes, they all require some compromise by those concerned.

One voluntary method is negotiation by calling a site meeting where all interested parties can air their grievances across a table and draw up a programme of rectification and reach an agreement over responsibilities and payment.

Any agreement must be recorded, signed and state what is to be done, how much is to be paid, by whom, by when, and how it will be accepted and checked. If no agreement can be reached then a solution may be found through mediation.

The Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006 provides for a mediation service to be available to dwelling/house owners with eligible claims. The claiming owner and any of the other parties against whom the claim is made may agree to refer the claim to mediation, with provision for binding settlements by agreement. This service is restricted to leaky homes built within 10 years of the claim.

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