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Building Act Changes to Make Builders Accountable

( The Government will introduce amendments to the Building Act 2004 that will help cut red-tape and bureaucracy and make builders more accountable, Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson announced today.

Mr Williamson says Cabinet has agreed to introduce a range of amendments to the Act that will provide more incentive for builders to ‘build it right first time’.

“Without compromising quality and safety, these amendments will help drive a more efficient and productive sector that stands behind the quality of its work,” he says.

The planned changes to the Act will be phased in over time. Some of the incentives to ‘build it right first time’ to be introduced to Parliament this year include:

* Explicitly stating that builders and designers are accountable for meeting Building Code requirements;

* Mandatory written contracts for building work above $20,000 that set out expectations, warranties and remedies, and how any disputes will be resolved;

* Requiring those doing the work to explain what, if any, financial back-up or insurance they have to remedy any faults.

“I expect these measures will lead to fewer disputes and see most arguments sorted out quickly and relatively cheaply.”

Mr Williamson says these changes are part of the Government’s Better Building Blueprint, a series of measures to make it easier and cheaper for New Zealanders to build good quality homes and buildings.

“We want to make it easier for homeowners commissioning building work to hold contractors to account for fixing any defects that do arise,” he says.

The planned amendments to the Act will also see some minor, low-risk work, such as building a carport or veranda, exempted from the need for a building consent.

Mr Williamson says the Government can only make changes to the building consent process to reduce costs once it has confidence in the quality of what is being built.

The Government is proposing to introduce a ‘stepped’ approach to building consents and inspections after mid-2012 once the other improvements are in place to drive quality, including the licensing of building practitioners.

“Under this stepped approach, the amount of checking and inspection will be directly aligned to the complexity and risk of the work, and the skills and capability of the people doing the work,” Mr Williamson says.

“For example, when building a stand-alone garage, the only check that may be required is that the work is being done by a licensed building practitioner. For building a simple, one-storey house using proven methods and products, it would be quicker to get consent and would require fewer inspections with the local authority only focusing on the critical elements.”

Longer term, the Government is also looking at how it could make the building consent system more nationally consistent and efficient.

“This could be done through centralising some of the functions of building consent authorities, supported by an online consenting system,” he says.

“This has the potential to reduce costs significantly, but we need to balance that against the cost of change. We need to look at this area in more detail and will be discussing it with local authorities.”

The planned changes to the Building Act are the result of a year-long review, which included consultation with interested parties.

More than 380 written submissions were received during the public consultation process earlier this year on the Government’s proposals to change the way the building industry was regulated.

For more information on the detail of the proposed changes to the Building Act visit:

Media Release 12 August 2010 from Maurice Williamson, Minister of Building and Construction.



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