An evaluative framework for defects in new residential buildings: the New Zealand case
The achievement of quality performance is an important component in the handover stage of new residential buildings, and plays a key role in homeowners’ satisfaction levels. Every new homeowner wants a product that is defect-free and worth the utmost value for their investment. Unfortunately this is not generally the case, since majority of newly built homes have been found to contain significant number of defects. Defects have become a main issue for concern to house developers, approving authorities, end-users and the construction industry as a whole. Therefore the aim of this research is to improve quality achievement levels through the reduction or complete eradication of defects at the handover stage of new residential buildings in New Zealand.
To achieve this aim and its attendant interstitial objectives, the study employed a mixed method research approach involving questionnaire surveys, interviews, and research verification using key industry stakeholders (subject matter experts). The investigations cover five regions in New Zealand: Auckland, Wellington, Waikato, Canterbury and Otago region, so that the entire population of new homeowners is truly represented.
The research generated a list of common defects and provides insight into the extent of defects experienced by new homeowners at handover. This information enhances the understanding of quality performance in the residential and wider construction industry. Major causes of defects were found to be poor workmanship and material quality. These are attributable to lack of training, poor apprenticeship schemes, skills of imported trades, and poor monitoring of imported building products. It is made apparent from the current research that standard operating procedures (SOP) for quality achievement would need to be maintained across all house developer organisations in New Zealand. The research also found that the use of independent building inspectors for new homes is at a low level. It is therefore suggested that independent building inspection be made part of pre-purchase agreements and would make developers liable for defect rectification within a reasonable time frame. In the same light, the research suggests that financial institutions make the release of mortgages, conditional upon the provision of independent building inspectors’ reports for all categories of buildings.The current research shows that creating awareness and establishing a national warranty scheme will address the lack of uniformity and inconsistencies in new home warranties in the residential sector. This research has added new data to existing literature and provided a good wealth of information with respect to current quality performance in the house building sector in New Zealand.