Archive | Legislation

Building Amendment Act brings changes to residential work

The Building Amendment Act 2013 came into force on New Year’s Day with a number of changes for residential work.

Parliament passed the act in November 2013 as part of a package of changes which introduce new measures to improve the building sector. Amendments which take immediate effect include:

  • The type of work that doesn’t require a building consent has changed
  • Higher penalties apply for doing building work without the appropriate consents
  • A number of terms & definitions have been changed
  • Councils have increased authority to restrict entry to buildings that may be near buildings that are dangerous
  • The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) has more power to hold building consent authorities to account, and, separate from the general changes,
  • The way dams are defined & measured has changed.

Cabinet has agreed new consumer protection measures as a result of the act, including:

  • Mandatory written contracts for residential building work costing $30,000-plus (including gst)
  • A requirement for building contractors to provide checklists and disclose certain information for residential building work costing $30,000-plus (including gst) or when they are asked for this
  • Minimum content that must be included in all residential building contracts
  • Clauses that are taken to be included in a residential building contract that doesn’t contain all the minimum content, or in a contract for work costing $30,000-plus (including gst) that is not in writing
  • Information that a building contractor must provide to their client after the building work is completed
  • Infringement fees of $500 for breaching the contract, disclosure or checklist requirements.

Building & Housing Minister Nick Smith said builders would have to have written contracts, provide information on their relevant skills, experience & qualifications and disclose their insurance & warranty cover.

“These new requirements are about improving how building work is contracted in New Zealand. They ensure increased professionalism, open disclosure & clear expectations about what work is to be done, at what price and in what timeframe.

“Building & construction activity in New Zealand is expected to reach unprecedented levels. This makes it all the more important that we have an efficient industry in place that is capable of delivering the quantity & quality we need.”

Links: MBIE, Building Amendment Act page
Building Amendment Act 2013

Attribution: MBIE, ministerial release.

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Government introduces restriction on who can do primary structure work

Published 11 October 2011

The Department of Building & Housing will introduce a category called restricted building work from 1 March 2012, requiring critical building work to be done by a licensed building practitioner.

This will include design & construction relating to primary structure such as foundations, floor, load-bearing walls & columns, roofs & weathertightness such as exterior cladding & joinery.

Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said yesterday: “Unlicensed building practitioners who carry out restricted building work unsupervised can be prosecuted and face fines of up to $20,000, and may be required to remove their building work.”

Mr Williamson said introducing the restricted building work category was a critical part of the Government’s plan to remove red tape by placing more reliance on skilled & accountable practitioners doing quality work.

Link: Licensed building practitioners register

 

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Attribution: Ministerial release & department website, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Law Commission to review joint and several liability

Published 11 October 2011

The Government has called in the Law Commission to review joint & several liability in the construction industry.

One change being considered is a switch to proportionate liability, so parties would have to contribute a set amount that reflected how much they contributed to the loss or damage.

Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said yesterday the Building Act review had identified some issues with the way joint & several liability worked in practice in the building sector, and also considered other possible options such as proportionate liability.

He said the Law Commission would provide a broader review of the issue. The Government has released a Cabinet paper & related review documents (see the links below).

The Department of Building & Housing said: “The Building Act will be amended so it’s clearer to builders, designers, building consent authorities & consumers who’s accountable for what. New measures will also be introduced to make it easier for homeowners to hold builders to account.

The amendments to the act will make it clear that:

designers are accountable for ensuring that their plans, specifications & advice will meet the requirements of the building codebuilders are accountable for building to any approved plans & specifications, or if there are no approved plans or specifications then they are accountable for meeting the requirements of the building codeowners of building work are accountable for getting any necessary approvals; if they change the plans or specifications, or do the building work themselves, then they are accountable for meeting the requirements of the building codebuilding consent authorities are accountable for checking that others are doing their part – including checking plans & specifications for building code compliance, checking at any prescribed inspection points that work is done in accordance with the plans & specifications, approving any critical variations and certifying that the work has been completed in accordance with the consent.”

The department said a review of the Building Act found “the system is out of balance, with an unduly heavy reliance on building consent authorities to identify & correct inadequacies in building design & construction.

“Building consent authorities are inclined to err on the side of caution, partly in response to the weathertightness crisis, and this has led to a level of checking & inspection that may be higher than necessary for low-risk work. This can cause delays & extra compliance costs. The weathertightness crisis has also shown that it can be difficult for homeowners to hold those responsible for problems to account.”

Links: Cabinet paper, Building Act review of joint & several liability

Buddle Findlay/Sapere review of application Cabinet paper, regulation of guarantee products Regulatory impact statements Overview of reform proposals

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Attribution: Ministerial release, department website, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Leaky homes assistance bill passed

Published 12 July 2011

Parliament gave the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services (Financial Assistance Package) Bill its third reading today.

Under the new law, qualifying owners of leaky homes will have to pay half the repair costs. The Government and their local council will pay 25% each.

Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said the $1 billion voluntary package was a fair solution that would help owners get their homes fixed faster.

Homeowners who discover they have a leaky home must lodge a claim within 10 years of the completion of building work to access the financial assistance package.

Specialist leaky building lawyer Adina Thorn said it was a positive alternative for the many homeowners who couldn’t afford to pursue their claims through the courts or in the Weathertight Homes Tribunal.

She said the new law would shift the focus of litigation away from defendants & their insurers, product manufacturers such as James Hardie and Plaster Systems (Insulclad) would hope homeowners accept this option rather than sue them, and it would be a blessing for the many homeowners in Manukau & Tauranga who’d had had their work certified by a private-sector building certifier who’d gone out of business.

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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Government seeks feedback on Construction Contracts Act, building code changes

Published 7 November 2010

The Department of Building & Housing has issued a discussion document on the Construction Contracts Act. Feedback closes on Thursday 16 December.

The department’s also seeking feedback by Friday 26 November on a number of Building Code clauses & alternative solutions – the fire protection clause, fire warning system, signs clause, noise clause and medium density housing acceptable solution (outline & links below).

Construction Contracts Act

The Construction Contracts Act regulates progress payments under construction contracts and provides an adjudication process for people with building disputes.

Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said on Thursday the act was being reviewed in response to feedback received through the Building Act review: "The submissions we received were very supportive of the act’s adjudication process, but feedback suggests there is some confusion about the types of disputes that can be heard.

“The act excludes residential construction contracts from the clauses relating to progress payments & the enforcement of adjudication orders. This can expose residential consumers & contractors to more risk and can make it difficult for them to resolve disputes and obtain financial redress. The discussion document asks if this exclusion is still relevant and if it should be removed.

"While the act works reasonably well for people with commercial construction contracts, there is room for improvement. The application of the act to residential constructions needs amending to increase & improve consumer protection so people carrying out residential building work are better equipped to use the act to hold builders to account.

"We want to hear from people who have used the act’s adjudication process to resolve building disputes. This will help us to identify what’s working well and to address those areas of the act that require improvement."

Other consultation:

Building Code fire clause & compliance documents consultation, the department is proposing a single Building Code clause C, a new verification method and a revised acceptable solution to clarify & simplify requirements, while retaining the current level of fire protection.

Warning system consultation, the department is proposing to amend the warning system acceptable solution (Building Code clause F7) to align with the proposed changes to fire protection.

Building Code signs clause & compliance documents consultation, the department proposes to amend Building Code clause F8 & acceptable solution to modernise signage requirements and bring them into line with international practice.

Building Code noise clause & compliance documents consultation, the department proposes to introduce a new Building Code clause G6, 2 acceptable solutions & a verification method to clarify noise insulation requirements in new apartment buildings and bring them into line with international practice.

Medium density housing acceptable solution consultation, the department proposes to introduce a new acceptable solution that incorporates fire & noise requirements for medium density housing into one document.

 

Links: Building & Housing consultations Construction Contracts Act consultation Building Code fire clause consultation Warning system acceptable solution consultation Signs consultation Building Code noise clause consultation Medium density housing acceptable solution consultation

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Attribution: Ministerial release, department website, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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