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Contractors say new building defect rules bad for their business

building under construction
A building under construction in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Construction managers say the newly introduced regulations apportioning blame to them for defects in completed projects should be scrapped for lack of public participation.

The Institute of Construction Project Managers in Kenya chairman Tom Oketch said the newly gazetted National Construction Authority (Defects Liability) Regulations 2020 undermined the role of architects as supervisors during the implementation of projects and was bad for business.

“Every project has a contract signed between the funder and the contractor who bears sole responsibility for defects detected immediately (patent defects) or within six months after completion (latent defects). But the architect is not directly involved in the funder-contractor agreement on project execution,” he said.

While the regulations require architects to seek cover for latent defects, Mr Oketch observed this was difficult since insurance companies would be unable to quantify the risk and determine the premiums to be paid.

He said prolonging the defect liability period to 12 months from six months would make construction expensive as contractors’ payments valued at five percent on a project’s cost would be withheld further hurting cash flows.

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“Why do we want to prolong this period from the usual six months. It will make construction expensive while contractors will require more funds to facilitate their future operations as most of their income will be withheld to cushion property owners of any eventuality,” said Mr Oketch.

“Contractors execute performance bonds that are withheld during defects liability period but roping in architects who are agents of a developer creates confusion in future contracts, whether public or private.”

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