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Act will provide stronger consumer protection

18 March 2005

New Building Act will provide stronger consumer protection

The new Building Act 2004 which comes into force on 1 April will tighten technical aspects of building legislation in the wake of the leaky home syndrome.

Consumers will be better protected from builders who are less than scrupulous, says Waitakere City’s Planning and Regulatory Committee Chair Councillor Vanessa Neeson.

“The new act is designed to prevent the sort of things that caused the leaky homes problems of the last few years. It will provide an enhanced level of protection to the consumer,” says Councillor Neeson.

The far-reaching changes to the Building Act 1991 include a tightening of the rules around obtaining code compliance certificates and change of use. The building levy will rise and a new certificate of acceptance has been introduced for unauthorised building work carried out after 1 July 1992 and for urgent work.

Some building consent applications will need to be referred to the NZ Fire Service while some others that do not meet current criteria will be asked to supply extra documentation to normal plans and specifications.

Two main areas will not change: these are safe and sanitary inspections for unauthorised building work carried out before 1 July 1992 and code compliance certificates for buildings constructed under the Building Act 1991.

What changes:

The building levy increases from $0.65 to $1.97 per $1000 of value of work on building with an estimated value of work over $20,000. This increase is retrospective, with consents uplifted after 31 March 2005 charged at the new rate, regardless of when the application was lodged. It will be an offence to permit public use of a building without a building consent or code compliance certificate having been granted. Fines of up to $200,000 and $20,000 per day will be charged for continuing offences. It will also be an offence for a residential property developer or 'spec builder' to sell a household unit without first obtaining code compliance certificate. Building consent applications will have 20 working days to be processed.

Interim code compliance certificates cannot be issued after 31 March 2005. Code compliance certificates will no longer be issued by requesting a final inspection. Owners must apply in writing for a code compliance certificate, using the prescribed form and the work will be inspected within 20 working days. The code compliance certificate must be obtained within two years of the granting of a building consent. Owners must give written notice to the council if they propose to change the use of a building. If the change of use involves creating a new household unit (eg changing a basement into a flat), the building will require upgrading in all respects to comply with the NZ Building Code to the same extent as reasonably practicable as if it were a new building. In all other cases (eg changing a garage into a hairdressing salon) the building will only need upgrading in terms of fire escape and rating, protection of other premises, sanitary facilities, structure, access and facilities for people with disabilities to comply with the NZ Building Code. The new Certificate of Acceptance is required when unauthorised work has been carried out after 1 July 1992, for urgent work and for any building work where the building consent authority that is not a territorial authority (previously called a building certifier) is unable or unwilling to issue a code compliance certificate. This does not apply where the territorial authority refuses a code compliance certificate or the certificate has not been obtained within the required two years. Some types of building consent applications must be referred to the NZ Fire Service for comment on provision of fire escape facilities. Applicants for building consents will need to supply additional documentation to the normal plans and specifications (eg justification for alternative solutions).

What does not change

Safe and sanitary inspections for unauthorised building work carried out before 1 July 1992. Code compliance certificates for buildings constructed under the Building Act 1991.


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