Thursday, July 24, 2014

Councils and Consents

The issue with consents is quite simple:  there is zero risk-assessment in the process, the way Councils run them.  Schedule 1 IS risk-based:  it exempts small structures, unattached, garden sheds and low decks.  

But Councils are terrified of a risk-based system where low-risk=low fees, minimal inspection, and hence lower Power to Obstruct.  

And one can imagine their intake of breath once they realise that the world is gonna haveta go multi-proof consent (Councils don't get a look in except for foundations), for factory-built houses, to end-run the slung-up-by-drug-addled-hammer-hands-at-massive-expense approach currently en vogue.

Christchurch has demonstrated to the world that single-storey residential construction, whatever the method (and of course excluding URM chimneys and exogenous impacts like rockfalls) is perfectly safe in a risk sense:  it has not killed one single person.

Despite the many and varied 'qualifications' of the builders.

Despite the fact that many such houses (Norman Kirk's was the most famous) were buil;t by the owners.

Despite the fact that many of those houses did indeed become uninhabitable:  they took the hits BUT their inhabitants did not.   That's the definition of 'failing gracefully' which is the point of most design.

And despite about 60-70% of the housing stock being either unconsented at all (too old), consented during the post-war to 1980's period (when TLA's were responsive beasts staffed by common-sense folk).

The remainder, of course were consented (lately, expensively and interminably) by overstaffed empires full of cardy-wearing nit-pickers whose ideas of customer service came straight out of the Obstructiveness for Dummies playbook.


Additional note:  Schedule 1 Building Act 2004 has the following (and, I'm told, rarely used) clause (my italics):

2Territorial and regional authority discretionary exemptions(a)(b)
  • Any building work in respect of which the territorial authority or regional authority considers that a building consent is not necessary for the purposes of this Act because the authority considers that—
    • the completed building work is likely to comply with the building code; or
    • if the completed building work does not comply with the building code, it is unlikely to endanger people or any building, whether on the same land or on other property.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Another cold-eyed but well-argued Spengler piece

In this magisterial article, David P Goldman argues that America has bungled everything for a decade-and-a-half, and is frankly now incapable of affecting much in the world.  Worse, and this has been an emerging theme, the USA has so burnt its old allies, from the Saudis through the EU to the UK, that it will find out about stuff after the deals have been struck, and after the events have occurred.
No-one could have walked into the Oval Office in 2001 and told then president George W Bush that his job was to manage the inevitable decline of Muslim civilization: to humiliate the Iranians, to hobble the contending parties and to leave as much power as possible in the hands of abhorrent military or monarchical governments. No-one could have gone to American universities and recruited the soldiers, spies and diplomats to execute a plan which preferred the slow and inevitable spread of human misery to a cataclysmic alternative.
In another thread from his recent thinking, he argues
It has become nearly impossible in America to ask the question: Which cultures are viable and which are not? Individuals of all cultures are viable Americans, but that is not necessarily true of the culture they left behind. 
This question, of course, is one that NZ must increasingly ask itself, as we are confronted with visibly destructive (albeit and mercifully, not widely geographically distributed) cultures.

Spengler's view is simple:
It is a fool’s errand to stabilize them; the best one can do is to prevent their problems from spilling over onto us.