Standards for P tests needed and solar panel owners are penalized


Solar panel installation
Solar panel owners in Hawkes Bay are being asked to pay more for their power.

When police were alerted to half a tonne of methamphetamine on a beach last week it highlighted the problem New Zealand has with illegal drugs such as P.
It seems the drug is so widespread that anyone seriously contemplating buying a home  needs to have it tested for P contamination — even if the property looks pristine.
Unfortunately, there are no guidelines or rules that companies testing for drug contamination need to follow. Home buyers risk paying lots of money for potentially questionable test results and advice on making an infected home safe to live in.
Harcourts’ CEO Chris Kennedy wants the government to set standards for the methamphetamine-testing industry.
He says: “Testers and cleaners have differing views on the severity of contamination and the methods for decontamination.
“We need some standards put into place to protect consumers and the government needs to take the lead on this.”
Kennedy says that just as the leaky building problem has made hiring a qualified building inspector essential, the P scourge should make methamphetamine testing mandatory. Tests should be done before the contract is signed.
If a real estate agent knows a property is contaminated, they are required to tell you.
The blame game
The three-year Auckland Housing Accord, which ends in September, is falling short with a little more than 30,000 housing consents issued or sections created. The figure is well short of the 39,000 target, which Housing Minister Nick Smith says is unlikely to be met.
Smith appears to blame the slack performance on anything he can think to name, from shortages of labour and equipment to concrete firms wanting three weeks’ notice to pour a slab. The only thing he didn’t mention was the supply of structural steel.
Auckland needs 13,000 consents a year to match demand and in the full year to March there were 9566 consents (unfortunately, people can’t live in a “consent”).
Surely, with all these consents pouring in, someone could see what would happen next?
As for the 154 Special Housing Areas, where consents can be fast-tracked … just 1010 homes have so far been built. The reason? Land owners are making more money sitting on the land than developing it.
Meanwhile, more than 68,400 migrants entered the country in the year to May – breaking all records. Based on the current trend, Half of these will want to live in Auckland. Although Treasury says A quarter of arrivals are New Zealand citizens coming returning home.

Home loan warning
Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf is worried Aucklanders are taking on too much debt as a direct result of   high  property prices.

Speaking at the Committee for Auckland Group Summit he  said  Housing debt is   the largest component of  the  country’s $246 billion of household debt. On average households are spending 163% of  disposable income, the  figure is set to rise and  is already higher  than  that leading up to the GFC of 2008.

Treasury is  worried  that a drop in people’s income, perhaps due to job losses,  or a rise in interest rates – which I don’t think we will  see for another year or two –  may  cause  some  people  to struggle to meet mortgage repayments.

The risk is that if too many people find themselves backed in to a corner financially , repossessions will starts and house prices will fall – sending people into negative equity.

High house prices he says is also preventing people from moving to Auckland to find work. Wages have not risen anywhere near the rate or rents or house prices. High accommodation costs also impacts the government as  rent subsidies rise.

Crossed wires
I often wonder why the building code doesn’t include solar panels being fitted to new homes in suitable areas of the country.
With so much sunshine we could be among the greenest countries on the planet with homes generating a high percentage of the power they need.
We’d all benefit if it were part of the code, which has been changed before to include radical things such as double glazing and insulation.
But what’s this? In Hawkes Bay those with the foresight to invest in solar power  generation  are being penalised by lines firm Unison Networks. The firm — via some twisted logic — has figured that people with solar panels should pay more to be connected to the grid.
By this rationale, if I walk home tonight, Auckland Transport should charge me more the next time I catch a bus.
Next week, more lessons from the North Korean School of Business.