A government regulator is investigating a local insulator who allegedly impersonated the company he used to work for while offering shoddy and “fraudulent” work around the region.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) confirmed that it was reviewing all homes that had been serviced by local contractor Marc Stewart across the top of the South Island.
“EECA will audit all the Government programme insulation retrofits carried out by the person involved in this allegation,” a spokesperson said. “There are 11 claimed under the contract since inception in June last year.”
Marc has allegedly been impersonating the brand he used to work for, Kiwi Insulation, and improperly installing insulation in homes.
“It has fraud, fraud, fraud and deception written all over it,” says local real estate agent Doug McKee, who enlisted ‘Kiwi Insulation 08’ to insulate a rental property in Stoke he is helping to manage.
However, after the tenants complained that the new insulation did not seem to be doing anything, Doug showed them the certificate of compliance, which was issued by “Kiwi Insulation 08”.
However, such a company does not exist. The man behind the Kiwi Insulation 08, is Marc, a former contractor for “Kiwi Insulation,” – a brand which is owned by Kensair Ltd.
Director of Kensair, Brent Thomas, says his company is as much a victim as the customers.
He has sent Marc a cease and desist letter and started legal proceedings against him. Police are involved.
“He has screwed us over,” says Brent. “It’s a farce.”
Brent says he stands 100 per cent behind Kiwi Insulation, and Kiwi Insulation 08 was an imposter.
“It’s outright fraud.”
Kiwi Insulation used to be locally-owned but was sold to North Island-based Kensair, which also owns the Comfort Master brand. Comfort Master and Kiwi Insulation were both represented locally by its manager Marc Stewart.
Comfort Master and Marc first came to the Nelson Weekly’s attention last year when it was discovered that it was offering non-existent government or council subsidies on hugely inflated quotes to insulate homes.
It attracted a growing number of complaints and was “likely” to be breaching the Fair Trading Act, according to the Commerce Commission.
From 1 July 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes where it is reasonably practicable to install.
The certificate that Marc Stewart issued is supposed to mean that the property has met this standard.
But Doug McKee says something didn’t seem right.
So, he enlisted local building inspector Paul Fox to take a look.
He found that Kiwi Insulation 08 had installed new batts around the ceiling’s manhole, but as soon as you went 3 metres in, it reverted back to old bats. Some areas had new bats that had been sliced in half to take their thickness to less than a third of what they were meant to be.
“They had split it down three times and literally laid it loosely on top,” Paul says. “So it looked like lots of padding but if you lifted it up you could see it was only about 50mm thick.”
It was meant to be 175mm thick.
“We are not talking about a company doing a bad job,” says Paul. “This is a fraudulent job as they are not doing what they said they were going to do.”
The property Doug helps manages is not alone. Paul has another client who has exactly the same story.
Paul says they have laid a complaint with the police.
Doug says the company has issued him a fraudulent certification for a job that is not up to scratch. However, when he went back to Kiwi Insulation they told him that Marc Stewart does not work for the company.
“But he certainly used to and all my documentation and the business card he gave says ‘Marc Stewart, Kiwi Insulation’.”
The invoice does have the name “Kiwi Insulation 08”.
Doug says Marc also gave him a brochure for a Comfort Master ventilation system.
“It doesn’t add up,” he says. “I’m sick to death of the thing. I’ve been ripped off.”
The Nelson Weekly spoke to Marc Stewart, and arranged a time to meet in person. He did not show up and has not responded to requests for comment.
His Linkedin profile still says that he is a current sales manager for Kensair.
Brent Thomas of Kiwi Insulation says any customers who are worried about the work should call 0508 Insulation.
Have you had dealings with Kiwi Insulation 08 and Marc Stewart? Email firstname.lastname@example.org