24 Nov 2020

Auckland builder fined $80k for turning warehouse into offices, apartments

2:02 pm on 24 November 2020

A builder has been fined tens of thousands of dollars for illegally turning a warehouse into a building with offices, car parks and apartments in the central Auckland suburb of Eden Terrace.

11096232 - renovation of old houses with scaffolding

File photo. Photo: 123RF

John Liong Kiat Wong was fined $80,750 relating to four charges including illegal building work, breach of notice to stop work, continuing offence relating to fire safety systems and conversion without resource consent.

The illegal building work on Exmouth Street was discovered in 2018 when a large concrete block fell from the top level of the converted building and onto neighbour's roof, narrowly missing a skylight.

As well as converting the building illegally, people were living in the apartments and basic safety features such as smoke detectors and fire sprinklers were not compliant.

He was sentenced at the Auckland District Court last week.

Judge David Kirkpatrick said Wong was an experienced developer, so there was no explanation for why he did not follow the rules. He said the offending called for a substantial penalty.

"In particular, the purposes of the Building Act include providing for the safety of occupants of buildings. The deliberate behaviour of the defendant in failing to obtain the necessary consents and in failing to have the specified systems checked and approved requires a deterrent sentence," Judge Kirkpatrick said in his decision.

Mayor Phil Goff said the penalty reflected the serious nature of the offending and would send a strong message to anyone purposefully not meeting their obligations under the Building Act.

"Those who flout the rules in such a manner need to know that they will be caught and face of the consequences of their actions."

Auckland Council compliance response and investigations manager Kerri Fergusson said the offending in this case was calculated and deliberate, for commercial gain, and put occupants and neighbours at risk.

She said the sentence should act as a deterrent to others wanting to avoid the legal process of obtaining the required consents and inspections.

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