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MDC ‘falls below standards’

A building professional with more than 40 years’ experience has told Wellington High Court that Masterton District Council [MDC] fell short in its processes relating to the construction of Wairarapa Hospital.

Robert Tidd gave expert evidence in the case Te Whatu Ora [formerly Wairarapa DHB] has brought against MDC about seismic defects in the hospital. Te Whatu Ora are claiming up to $100 million in damages, interest, and costs from the council. The four-week trial started on 31 July.

Masterton engineer Michelle Grant has also given evidence about widespread structural seismic defects in the hospital building that now need to be remedied.

Tidd is a Masterton resident and told the court he had spent about 16 years working in a regulatory capacity in local authorities. His CV includes experience as a building designer, consultant, and project manager.

In Tidd’s opinion, MDC fell below the standards required in relation to building inspection and other processes relating to the issue of the code of compliance certificate for the hospital.

“Overall, for the reasons set out in this brief of evidence, it is my opinion that MDC fell below the standard expected of a competent council in granting building consent EC041065 for the hospital building,” he said.

“Failing to ensure adequate inspections were undertaken during construction and issuing a CCC [code compliance certificate] for the hospital building. In particular, I do not consider MDC could have been satisfied on reasonable grounds that the structure of the building complied with the code, and the building consent. In my opinion MDC’s building control quality assurance system and documentation was inadequate, and was inadequately adhered to in any case.”

Tidd went on to say administrators of relevant audit standards for local authorities had commented on MDC’s processing times for CCCs.

“[They] had identified that MDC was having difficulties in the relevant area with the competent and timely processing of CCCs, including ensuring that all relevant inspections had been undertaken, relevant information obtained and recording the reasons for its decisions.”

Tidd also said there was also doubt whether MDC should be handling the building consent process for complex buildings such as hospitals.

“The process for subcontracting to an accredited council or BCA [building consent authority] had not been documented or implemented. I do not consider it was reasonable for MDC to rely on the PS1 design provided by Maunsell in granting building consent for the hospital,” he said.

“The calculations provided with the PS1 were not comprehensive and they should have been queried by a competent building officer.

“The PS1 did not adequately describe the plans and engineering elements that it covered. In my opinion, MDC should have obtained or required the DHB to obtain an independent review of the structural engineering design and the PS2 prior to issuing building consent.”

Tidd said an independent review was especially important for the hospital.

“It was complex design, and it was a hospital, so the design and operation had an element of public safety.

“In these circumstances, it is my opinion that a competent council would have required the structural design engineer’s work to be reviewed by an independent qualified
and experienced engineer.”

Tidd said without a peer review, it would be difficult to be satisfied the work was adequate.

“Without obtaining an independent peer review and a PS2, a competent council could not in my opinion be reasonably satisfied that the building work when constructed in accordance with the drawings, specifications, and other documents would comply with the relevant provisions of the code,” he said.

“Therefore, in my opinion MDC failed to meet the standard expected of a competent council in granting building consent for the main hospital building without obtaining a PS2.

“There is minimal evidence of inspection being adequately or sufficiently undertaken by MDC, or the results being recorded adequately.”

Tidd said MDC inspectors should have been able to identify most of the as-detailed damaged structural elements, “which should have been raised, and required to be remedied”.

Tidd said there were no recorded relevant inspections in relation to bracing and other problems at issue in the hospital.

“Nothing is recorded as being checked by the council in this regard,” he said.

The trial is scheduled to finish at the end of the month.


Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


  1. Should this not be on the consultants they issue a ps1 for the design a ps2 is for a peer review if required. A ps3 is issued by the contractor to say that it was constructed to the design. A ps4 is issued by the consultant when he is happy that it has been constructed to the design.we pay engineers because they are qualified to do the design

  2. Re. Suing a council for building defects and inspection shortcomings.
    There is something seriousy wrong with the system when liability and remedial costs end up being the local ratepayers problem.

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