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Building Bill: Using Sledgehammer To Crack Nut

Building Bill: Using Sledgehammer To Crack Nut

The Building Bill extends way beyond its goal of stopping leaky-building syndrome and has serious flaws which will add to construction costs and push up inflation, said Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) President Tom Lambie.

The bill as drafted will require building work worth more than a prescribed amount to be supervised by licensed building practitioners. The bill's explanatory note suggests the threshold for this extra layer of bureaucracy will be work worth more than $10,000 -- a very low amount in the context of modern-day building costs.

Appearing before Parliament's government administration select committee, Mr Lambie said that problems of weather tightness in badly-built homes had no relevance to farm structures such as hay barns and implement sheds.

"This bill is about shoddy housing not being fit for living. It should not extend to all structures built for specific purposes such as storing hay or farm bikes.

Compulsory supervision will add significantly to the cost of building hay barns, implement sheds, and covered yards – tasks which many farmers have traditionally done themselves.

"There is no justification for such blanket provisions given that concerns over leaky-building syndrome have generally been confined to housing and, more particularly, certain types of housing. To impose costs across the economy on people that are not directly contributing to the problem is nonsensical," Mr Lambie said.

"Farmers do not want to be lumbered with more regulatory burdens and unnecessary costs. They are already facing the big squeeze from the 20 new or proposed taxes since the Labour-led coalition came to power four years ago, and a rising exchange rate cutting export returns."

The Building Bill as drafted will add to inflationary pressures in the housing sector, which makes up a fifth of the consumers price index.

"Housing-related inflation is already putting pressure on the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates, which helps push up the New Zealand dollar. Any factors which add to housing costs should therefore be very strongly scrutinised and preferably stopped."

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