Calls for review into New Zealand's building inspection process following Loafers Lodge fire

The director of Loafers Lodge spoke with the media on Wednesday after residents raised concerns about fire protection in the building.

Greg Mein said he's followed the letter of the law and the building recently passed an inspection.

But one building inspector has told Newshub he has serious concerns about the building inspection process in New Zealand.

As investigators survey the wreckage of Loafers Lodge, its director Mein fronted up for the first time. 

"Everyone's just gutted by this. It's just done us in completely," he said.

The blaze has raised questions about the building's safety. It was not required to have sprinklers and some tenants said the fire alarms were unreliable.

"There's been all sorts of rumour and innuendo thrown around, I can't speak to a lot of that. We have 90-odd residents, there might be the odd disgruntled one," Mein said.

Mein told Newshub when it comes to the building he's followed the letter of the law and fire protection was up to scratch.

"I think so... the building was compliant and all that," he said.

It passed its building warrant of fitness this year and no concerns were raised by the independent inspector, called an IQP.

But another IQP, who wants to remain anonymous, is raising concerns about the warrant of fitness process in general.

He said building owners can take advantage of the system by effectively shopping around for inspectors.   

"Once one IQP goes in and fails a building, they could quite easily go to another IQP that is a bit more lax or not, probably not as skilled and get it passed, because the system allows for that," he said.

He felt compelled to speak out.

"Something needs to be done about this, it's absolutely criminal... it's criminal," he said.

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau has already ordered her staff to look into it.

"To not only scope how wide this problem might be, so that if there are buildings of a similar nature and of course the process of which they receive their warrant of fitness," Whanau said. 

She wants to see a Government review of our building code too.

Experts said it's about time. 

"Looking at the older buildings, especially residential buildings, buildings that people are sleeping in. I think we need to learn from this tragedy, we need to stop it from happening again," Fire Protection Association's Chris Mak said.

"I have asked the Minister for Housing to look particularly at issues of building regulation to see if there's anything we should be doing at this point," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said.

But if nothing changes, the IQP warns there will be more incidents.

"It's not a could be, there will be," he said.

And he fears more lives will be lost.