New Building regulations come into force from New Year's Day

From today, builders will have to provide customers with written contracts and a list of their relevant skills and experience before they start work. The change applies to jobs worth more than $30,000, and those flouting the new rules face fines of $500.

5509969867_6688a34a3b_bBuilders must hand over a contract with all the details of warranties and insurance, a list of their qualifications and advice on how customers should manage the project. Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith said the new rules would improve the way building work was done, at a time of unprecedented activity. We would always advise body corporates and residential owners completing repairs or renovations to use registered builders and engage specialists for permitting and design elements of any building projects. The more stringent rules would improve the way building work was done, with more than 25,000 new houses set to be built this year, he said.

The Government expected the changes would lead to fewer complaints in the long run.

  • Nat11 - photography for Office of JK & National Party“Whenever you’ve got an industry in boom mode, there’s a greater risk of cowboys entering the industry,” Dr Smith said. “Our hope, with these new regulations, is that it is going to keep the cowboys out while still enabling the industry to expand.”

Some say the new regulations may not go far enough Consumer New Zealand chief executive Sue Chetwin says. Areas such as electricity and banking all had more efficient industry-based resolution services, she said.

“Building just doesn’t seem to have that and it’s one of the areas that the mistakes you make can be expensive ones, so it would be useful to have a better industry-based disputes resolution service.”

Consumer New Zealand would be pushing to have the disputes process changed, Ms Chetwin said.

Certified Builders’ Association spokesperson Grant Florence said he believed the changes would lift the bar for the whole industry.

“The landscape has been littered with issues where builders haven’t done the right thing and that’s led to some incidents with homeowners that haven’t done the industry too well.”

The leaky-home saga had also lowered public confidence in the building industry, Mr Florence said.

Homeowners’ and Buyers’ Association president John Gray said the regulations were a start but still left people in the lurch if they hired a building company that went under.

“It is really disappointing to see that the government hasn’t taken on the advice of both the Homeowners’ and Buyers’ Association and other industry players who suggested there should be a mandatory insurance-backed warranty that survives the collapse of a building company.”

Mr Gray said contracts should be mandatory for all jobs, not just those costing more than $30,000, and that the new rules should have included a mandatory insurance-backed warranty capable of standing up even if a company collapsed.

The $500 fine was low but would still have an impact, he said.

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