There was a time when building a house involved meeting the builder, designing your house, paying for it and watching as the whole thing came together under the builder’s guidance – usually with an apprentice in tow. They would pour the concrete, build the walls, put on the roof, fit the locks, hang the doors and, well, do everything that wasn’t going to kill you if it went wrong. The dangerous bits were done by specialists who were known by the builder – electricians and plumbers primarily.
Fast forward to today. Many seem to be complaining about building or renovating – asking “why do things take so long when we’re in the middle of a building boom?”
Whereas it used to be a single project for a builder, it is now a series of jobs given to specialists who arrive, do their bit and go again. Everything has to happen in the right sequence and this is where it starts getting awkward and overly complicated, in our opinion. We’ve had leaky homes and something clearly had to be done, but the regulatory pendulum has swung too far the other way. We have so many specialists depending on so many other specialists that it’s impossible to “just get the job done”. In addition, the focus has moved from “getting the house built” to “not being liable for anything that goes wrong”. You, the homeowner, are paying for it in time and money.
The building industry is now so specialised that, in a lot of cases, the builder doesn’t even put up the gib, and a ‘gib fixer’ doesn’t stop the gib ready for painting. The slightest delay ripples down through the schedules of everyone due to work on the project. It could be something as simple as bad weather delaying a concrete pour, a bad cold or a car refusing to start.
Consider also the building boom, where the opening up of land has caused a shortage of all the people involved in the building process. No one has looked at the problem holistically. The process is faulty. Auckland is crying out for houses and freeing up land may contribute to the solution. But in addition, we need more tradespeople, more materials and, most of all, less red tape.
Let’s look back on the good old days and take some lessons in commonsense from them. Have the builder install the ceiling and put up the gib. Let’s just get the job done.