A Taupō man who allegedly forged the signatures of qualified engineers to sign off more than 1000 homes is cooperating with police, according to Engineering NZ.
Forty-two councils are now racing to contact homeowners whose producer statements and designs were signed off by Jonathan Beau Hall of Kodiak Consulting Ltd.
Police are also investigating, while officials check if the residential and commercial buildings he signed off are structurally safe.
Engineering NZ revealed to Newshub on Saturday it found out only by chance from a member of the public that Taupō-based Hall had signed off documents needed for building consents using the identities of chartered professional engineers without their permission.
“Someone had a query about the design and contacted one of the engineers involved… they checked it and said ‘I wasn’t involved and shouldn’t be on the form’. That is what triggered the complaint and triggered the investigation,” Engineering New Zealand chief executive Richard Templer told Newshub on Saturday.
Appearing on AM on Monday, Templer revealed Hall is cooperating with police.
“So as part of the police’s investigation, they have got in touch with Mr. Hall and through his lawyer, he has released to us basically a list of all the engineering projects he was involved in and we were surprised to discover that list is over 1000 projects across 42 councils across New Zealand, right from the top to the bottom,” Templer said.
Templer told AM co-host Laura Tupou the majority of the affected homes are residential properties but also new builds, alterations and a few light commercial.
“We are working with the councils to basically go through and identify all these properties and all these designs,” he said.
“We’re very mindful of the fact this will be really concerning for homeowners and owners of businesses that are impacted, so we’re trying to resolve this as quickly as possible to reduce the stress and pressure.”
Templer expects the number of homes affected to continue to increase as councils check their records.
“I think we would expect the number to increase because, in addition to the properties on the list, there may well be others that weren’t included in his records,” Templer explained.
“I’m aware of some councils have made the decision to check through all their files to see if there’s any reference to the engineer’s identities who were compromised or Kodiak Consulting Ltd just to check just in case there’s any that aren’t on the list.”
Templer explained to AM how Hall forged the signatures of legitimate engineers.
“From what we understand, he probably engaged the engineers completely legitimately to do work for him to sign off designs he’d done and he then basically retained their signatures and their details and started putting them on designs which they hadn’t reviewed and were completely unaware of,” he said.
When asked if there would be a change in the process to sign off on producer statements and designs, Templer said it’s something that would be looked at, but was hesitant to commit to it.
“I think ourselves, councils and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will all be looking at what can be done to make the process more robust, but we’re very mindful of the fact that 99.99 percent of the people who use these forms and put submissions in, do them completely legally and completely legitimately,” he said.
“We don’t want to put in a process that’s so onerous we add significant cost or time delays into the consenting process. So we’ve got to try and find the right balance.”
Watch the full interview with Richard Templer in the video above.