26 Jul 2019

Hamilton council makes changes to building WoFs

2:59 pm on 26 July 2019

Hamilton City Council is making changes after concerns about buildings that do not have warrants of fitness.

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Photo: Supplied / Facebook

Several Waikato Hospital buildings have not had warrants for several years and scores of other buildings have expired warrants.

The council's chief executive Richard Briggs said he would change his confidential weekly briefings to councillors after an approach by councillor Dave Macpherson worried about the WOFs.

"I intend to include critical outstanding building of warrant information as part of that report."

He said the number of buildings without warrants fluctuated a lot - this week it had dropped to 140 from 200 - but in all cases the council did not put up with any risks.

"If we identify an outstanding warrant of fitness that could be at risk to public safety we will investigate to try to understand that issue straight away."

More commonly, warrants expired because building owners were late in trying to renew them.

The council had powers for ordering action or shutting a building which related only to hygiene and safety, Mr Briggs said.

"We're quite unique in Hamilton in that we actually go out and do risk-based assessments - so we will go out and meet with our building owners from an education point of view, look at their documentation and understand the issues.

"There's not many councils actually doing that front-foot approach."

Some councils have had patchy ways of policing warrants of fitness.

At Waikato Hospital, firestopping defects have stopped warrants being issued.

"In terms of firestopping, we work out whether it might present a risk that would lead us to believe that people were [at risk] of harm," Mr Briggs said.

Mr Macpherson said Mr Briggs had agreed "there is not enough information on which elected councillors can reasonably be expected to meet governance requirements, nor enough opportunities for this area to be perused by the members".

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