Tree house ‘breaches building code’

The Dunedin City Council has ordered the removal of a tree house because it breaches the building code. I bet the building of it also breached safety codes by not surrounding the tree with scaffolding during contrutction. And it hasn’t got smoke alarms or any tsunami warning system.

1 News: ‘Seriously get a life’ – Council tells Dunedin family to remove backyard tree house they say breaches Building Code

The tree hut, built by grandad Trevor Norman, has given his grandsons Logan, Devon and Ethan hours of fun.

But a visit from the Dunedin City Council – prompted by a privacy complaint from the neighbours – has seen the tree house in line for the chop.

Trevor – who built the platform with a friend – is questioning what the council is spending its resources on.

“What’s wrong with kids playing in their own backyard anymore, are we not allowed that?” he said.

“I don’t see why the Council would waste their time on it.”

There probably aren’t safety mats on the ground under the tree house either.

The platform, ladders and railing sit in the plum tree owned by Trevor’s daughter Janice Norman-Oke.

“They’ve all had their friends over. We’ve got quite a few kids in the neighbourhood, they’ve all been over climbing it. They all have gone home and said to their parents they want one too,” said Janice.

But shortly after it was built, Janice was notified by the Council that a neighbour had complained the tree house disturbed their privacy.

Rachael and Martin Morris said they approached the Council asking about “guidance regarding privacy, and in the process alerted the Council about the tree house structure”.

Council inspectors visited, and decided that while there was no breach of privacy – the tree house didn’t meet the Building Code.

“I think it’s rather ridiculous,” said Janice.

The structure isn’t exempt under provisions for private playground equipment, because the safety railing takes the overall height to more than three metres – which means, it needs a building consent.

So why not just remove the safety railing? That would probably breach something else – including common sense.

I must admit the tree house and swing I have made don’t have RMA approval, and the trolley I built doesn’t have a warrant of fitness.

60 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  July 3, 2018

    Christ! Who are these morons? The farkin Fun Police?

    • Gezza

       /  July 3, 2018

      What’s bloody next? Ban skateboarding? Parachuting? Hang gliding? Ski Jumping? Driving? Fishing?

      • PartisanZ

         /  July 3, 2018

        It must be a thinly veiled Left-Wing conspiracy to destroy Aotearoa New Zealand’s ‘Adventure Tourism’ industry …?

        • Gezza

           /  July 3, 2018

          😮 Jesus!

          Never even occurred to me until now! 😐

          Bastards! Is there no end to their perfidy? 😡

          • PartisanZ

             /  July 3, 2018

            Apparently not … and here’s the paradox …

            It is ALL the direct result of neoliberalism … All this extra regulation and quantum increase in government spending (see my post on Open Forum today) began its soaring rate of increase in 1984 …

            Rogerednomics, it turns out, has been the single biggest economic dupe ever perpetrated in history …

            • PartisanZ

               /  July 3, 2018

              When government gets OUT of people’s lives …

              But government is more and more IN people’s lives …

              One of the two has got to be a SHAM …

            • High Flying Duck

               /  July 3, 2018

              Your logic in open forum was off – the lift in spending matched a lift in GDP so was not increasing disproportionately. We were also coming out of the Muldoon “freezes” era and had some catch up to do.

  2. Trevors_Elbow

     /  July 3, 2018

    Give a bureaucrat a little power and watch them go all megalomaniac …. Nanny State knows best – and a Kiwi’s home is most definitely not their castle…

    As for the neighbour complaining about privacy…. really???

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 3, 2018

      An American friend says that in her state all houses have to have central heating to a required level of heat and that portable heaters are illegal. Bugger that.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  July 3, 2018

        Basic safety laws are essential. I have no argument against those.

        NB ACT is agin the extremes of the RMA and always has been.

  3. NOEL

     /  July 3, 2018

    How often is a Privacy complaint up held. Heaps of new builds in partition land in my area and older residents don’t have many rights in regard the new 2 story next door.
    I’m for a give a little page to bring it up to code to see what happens next.

  4. Geoffrey

     /  July 3, 2018

    These bureaucrats are the sort of honest upright self-righteous clowns who impose asinine restriction on relatively powerless citizens but who duck for cover and evade responsibility whenever a real issue arises. Bet we could not find a single example of an official who indulges in this type of madness and who has also confessed to having overlooked a requirement when signing off a consent on say Cave Creek. or CTV Building. or half the houses in Christchurch. Council should issue an exemption with an apology and fire the moron who approved the position taken. Some ONE person had to have said, “Yes, let’s do this.” Get rid of him.

    • MaureenW

       /  July 3, 2018

      Are they even capable of inspecting a tree-house? With the shambles of building clusterfu**s in NZ, I do wonder.

  5. sorethumb

     /  July 3, 2018

    I can see the point though – it was a privacy complaint.

    • PartisanZ

       /  July 3, 2018

      TV Whoever should be around there in a jiffy …

      Offer them an episode of ‘Neighbours At War’ …

    • Gezza

       /  July 3, 2018

      Not upheld. Just because they sunbathe in the nude in their back yard or whatever doesn’t mean tree huts should meet building codes.

      • PartisanZ

         /  July 3, 2018

        But Gezza …. Think of the children!

    • NOEL

       /  July 3, 2018

      No the Council visited and on inspection determined no privacy was breached.
      Then defaulted to the building code argument presumably to appease the complainant?.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  July 3, 2018

        I don’t think so. If it was safe and within the limits for height etc, that would be easy to prove and the neighbours would have no say in the matter. If it wasn’t, it would be nothing to do with them, either.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 3, 2018

    Shoot the next building inspector and hang him on the fence as a warning to others.

    • PartisanZ

       /  July 3, 2018

      We don’t need to be that severe Alan … He/She’s only carrying out his/her pseudo-neoliberal instructions …

      What the building inspector needs is Libertarian Correction & Re-Education Camp … Right?

      They need Superintendent Von Hayek … and prison officer-instructors Ludwig Von Mises and Milton Friedman …

      The problem is that the re-educated building inspector will not be able to function in the real pseudo-neoliberal world … where every step in the direction of Less Government is actually a step in the direction of More Government …

      We’ve been duped!

      • You may have been

      • Gezza

         /  July 3, 2018

        Don’t think so. Dupers has posted elsewhere but not on this page yet.

      • Gezza

         /  July 3, 2018

        I really do think the rot set in with the neo-lib downsizing of the bureaucracies. It led ultimately to things like the westherside & leaky homes debacles, Cave Creek, Pike River. To make up for the lack of properly-qualified inspectors who’ve had real world experience in people called unskilled bureaucrats had to come up with checklists that they happily just continue to add to & pass up to government Ministers with NFI either & then they just get passed into legislation like acts and regulations.

        • PartisanZ

           /  July 3, 2018

          And simultaneously this downsized bureaucracy costs the NZ Taxpayer a shitload more than it ever did pre-neoliberalism …

        • High Flying Duck

           /  July 3, 2018

          The leakies had more to do with house trends to monolithic claddings and a lack of understanding of how to keep them moisture-proof, along with allowing non-treated timber to be used (treated timber took longer to dry and was more subject to warping apparently).
          Cave creek survivors admitted (many years after the fact( that they had been shaking the platform pretty hard when it collapsed – not that that is an excuse I guess.

          I would say the shift from people who knew what they were doing to box ticking bureaucrats who checked off a list has been a big (and ongoing) issue!

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  July 3, 2018

            The Cave Creek people didn’t deserve to die for that stupid action (which of us hasn’t done something like that ?) but if it was a contributing factor, which it may well have been, it’s a shame that it didn’t come out at the time and save some of the blame and guilt.

    • Gezza

       /  July 3, 2018

      Al advocates murdering a building inspector and gets 5 upticks for it ?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 3, 2018

        A modest proposal, Sir Gerald.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  July 3, 2018

          It was only one. Just enough to serve as a warning.

  7. George

     /  July 3, 2018

    Name and shame the Councillors who signed up to this

  8. duperez

     /  July 3, 2018

    I was In Dunedin a fortnight ago. We went out of the city centre and came across an obvious danger, not fenced off and by any reckoning a hazard. I believe it is most likely the council’s responsibility. Who specifically do I contact to complain and demand attention?

    I think St Clair beach will l look quite nice with a fence around it the same heigh as the one we have to put around our pool way out in the country.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  July 3, 2018

      Yes – pool fencing regulations in areas with lakes, ponds and beaches is another ridiculous situation.

      I have seen houses that back directly on to a lake and have a pool being required to fence the pool.

      Common sense never gets in the way of a box ticking exercise!

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  July 3, 2018

        The answer to that is that small children will be attracted to a swimming pool but are not likely to go into a lake, someone I know was told. I hadn’t thought of that obvious point.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 3, 2018

          Also, a small child is far more likely to wander where there is a pool than be alone by a lake, river or beach.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  July 3, 2018

            The place I saw had the pool within 5 m of the lake. They were more or less adjacent. The back lawn sloped into the water.

            There was precisely zero safety enhancement from the expensive requirement to fence. Not that money was an issue – these people had a lake house in Auckland!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 3, 2018

              If the pool wasn’t fenced, why didn’t you go to the council ?

  9. Sunny

     /  July 3, 2018

    Actually I agree wiht the inspector on this one. Falling from 3 metres is enough to do serious damage. It’s different if a kid is climbing a tree. Because they know they have to rely on their hands, feet and balance. But if they see a built structure they assume it is safe. And the whole neighbourhoods kids come round jumping around and overloading it and if it breaks could be disastrous. The height for a deck that is off the ground requires a railing at 1 metre or something for adults. When the doc viewing platform gave way on the school trip it was disastrous. So why would we not have such high standards for kids equipment. So anyways, think it’s important it’s safe, but they should have just given him some upgrades he needed to make instead of taking it down.

    • Blazer

       /  July 3, 2018

      When you assess it like that I have to agree with you Sunny.Safety of the children is ..paramount.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 3, 2018

        Actually it isn’t in my book. Teaching them confidence and to manage risk is far more important than perfect safety.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  July 3, 2018

      The platform had a railing – which was one of the reasons they decided it needed a building consent.
      I don’t think anyone is against safety. The issue is the high cost of compliance. Obtaining a building consent is not a cheap process!
      Using the Dunedin council tool, the consent cost for a treehouse costing less than $500 to build would be $1,662, which takes it out of being a fun project to do for the kids to prohibitive.

      http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/services/building-control/fees-and-charges

      I guess they’ll just go back to playing Fortnite inside all day instead of being outside with friends.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  July 3, 2018

        Well, no, it’s not as if that’s the only alternative.

        We had a playhouse at one time when I was little and I loved it. Very basic, A-line, furnished with castoffs from the house, and what fun it was !

        • High Flying Duck

           /  July 3, 2018

          It’s not the only alternative, but kids, especially boys, crave adventure and a sense of danger that things like climbing trees and sitting up high gives them.
          A-frame playhouses may not cut it.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  July 3, 2018

            I didn’t suggest that they would. I said that I liked it, not that anyone else would like it and I neither thought nor said that there was any adventure or danger in it.

            But stupid risks that can result in serious injury or death when they are avoidable seem pointless.

            • Gezza

               /  July 3, 2018

              Well, they are, but boys in particular like to have fun and we are pretty stupid. Hurting ourselves is one of the ways we get less stupid if we survive.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 4, 2018

              Some young lads near me built a tree ‘house’ in a big tree; the good old rough and ready, she’ll be right, DIY by themselves kind made of old planks. They called on me to admire it, which I duly did.

              The spoilsport developer made them take it down because it spoiled the look of the place. Bah, humbug.

              This was a man who, when I was talking to him one day, didn’t look when a heron rose up beside us and flew really close, to my delight. ’nuff said.

      • Blazer

         /  July 3, 2018

        $1662 is cheap insurance for your 9 y.o son .The fact that you say he’s obtuse makes it even moreso.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  July 3, 2018

          Who said what?
          Have you watched the video? The platform looks very solid and only failed because the railing took it over the 3m limit. It looked like a great place to play.
          This is utter council wowserism.

  10. Geoffrey Monks

     /  July 3, 2018

    And the abundance of evidence can be found…… wher?

  11. Geoffrey Monks

     /  July 3, 2018

    Oh do come on! How many children fell out of Grandpa constructed tree houses in the recorded history of New Zealand. And of them, how many were hurt?

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  July 3, 2018

      I fell out of my own construction. Must have been a good three metres since it was well above our old shed roof in a big willow tree. I seem to remember some rather painful rocks at the bottom. Only did it once.

      • Blazer

         /  July 3, 2018

        so…never been the same since….

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  July 3, 2018

          Learnt about balance and fulcrums. Improved science and building skills. Guess I was six or seven then.

      • Geoffrey Monks

         /  July 3, 2018

        That’s the point

        • Gezza

           /  July 3, 2018

          Exactly. If we survive we get smarter. 👍🏼 😎

        • Gezza

           /  July 3, 2018

          Well, some of us get smarter, but here are some Trump voters

          I’m not entirely sure about them.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  July 3, 2018

            At last you post a video worth watching.

  12. High Flying Duck

     /  July 3, 2018

    [video src="https://tvnz-a.akamaihd.net/963482464001/201807/3274/963482464001_5804252945001_5804250086001.mp4" /]