Award Winning Building Surveyor Shares His Experience With Others

As winner of the 2017 Excellence in Building Surveying Award, Sean Cavan hopes to pass his knowledge on and raise awareness of the role building surveyors play in New Zealand.

Sean is a Registered Building Surveyor at Prendos NZ Ltd in Auckland. He was awarded the 2017 NZIBS Excellence in Building Surveying Award for his work in remediation contracts – doing design and management, providing reports on buildings with issues and acting as an expert witness for the Weathertight Homes Tribunal and high court.

The NZIBS is the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors. This well-respected group possess an in-depth knowledge of ‘good building methods’ as well as the ‘bad methods’ of construction that have been used in many of New Zealand’s existing buildings.

“I’m really flattered to win this award. The partners at Prendos were instrumental in forming the NZIBS, and their encouragement shows that the way I work and mentor others is appreciated.”

Before joining Prendos NZ Ltd 12 years ago, Sean’s career spanned all parts of the industry. He started out as a builder’s labourer before working in structural design, architectural detailing, site supervision, contract management, timber design and manufacturing as well as software support. And he’s passionate about sharing this experience with others.

“Many young building surveyors come from overseas. They understand the condition of buildings, but sometimes lack an understanding of the mechanics of the common failures in our building industry. My experience has helped me realise that good results are a combination of design, order of construction and common sense in leadership. It’s about understanding the fundamentals of what has happened to buildings and ensuring the same mistakes aren’t made again.”

Sean is also keen to help New Zealanders understand the role building surveyors play in ensuring our residential and commercial buildings are up-to-scratch.

“Building surveyors essentially find out what is wrong with a building and work out how to fix it – assisting in getting compensation for the problem if possible. This means investigating problems, writing building reports and getting involved in the repair.”

Most New Zealanders understand the importance of ascertaining a building’s quality when they’re buying, selling or taking up a lease (when the question of who owns the condition of the building arises). Unfortunately, they don’t often approach a building surveyor to find out this information.

“Kiwis tend to get a builder to run their eye over a property and give it the thumbs up (or down) through a Builder’s Report. Overseas, people understand the assessment should be made by a person experienced in the condition of buildings – not just someone who builds them.

“This is even more important in New Zealand, where untreated timber and poor methods have resulted in the well-known ‘leaky house syndrome’. These days things are a lot more stringent, but building surveyors play an important role in identifying existing problems, finding solutions and holding people to account.

“It’s about helping people understand not only what the problem is, but why there is a problem – so we can hopefully prevent the same issues recurring in the future.”

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