Edifice can be a boat in progress

Just Doi and his ‘‘house boat’’. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Just Doi and his ‘‘house boat’’. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
First it was a boat, then it was a house; now it just might float.

Construction of the ark-like structure in Aramoana at the centre of a dispute between its owner and the Dunedin City Council will be allowed to continue after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) issued a clarification on whether it was house or boat in progress.

Self-described ageing hippie Just Doi began the structure about 10 years ago, but last year received a notice to fix — his second — from the Dunedin City Council, which considered it a house built without consent.

Last month MBIE issued a determination, made after a site visit from a naval architect, that declared the structure was a house and subject to the Building Act.

Mr Doi then asked for a clarification on the decision, which was issued earlier this week.

In the clarification, MBIE determinations manager Katie Gordon said as the work needed to make the boat suitable for navigation was not extensive, the council should exercise its discretion.

"Basically they are saying that I’m obviously building a boat and it’s not far from meeting their peculiar requirements and that the council should really just leave me alone," Mr Doi said.

He would now be given time to alter the features of the structure that were incompatible with a sailing a boat, mainly the non-nautical windows and a fire air-supply vent running through the bottom of the floor.

While he was uncertain what remedial measure would make the boat more nautical, Mr Doi said he would keep "plugging away" until it was seaworthy.

"Essentially, nothing has changed; just a year’s worth of unnecessary public expense and significant money spent and stress for me and my family."

Council building solutions manager Paul Henderson said the council would be in contact with Mr Doi to agree to a reasonable timeframe for the work to be undertaken.


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