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Building Regulation Submissions Summary

Building Regulation Submissions Summary

Overview There is general support for the proposals in the discussion paper. In addition, there are underlying themes relating to professional competencies and information. There are concerns that generally, competencies and qualifications of inspectors, certifiers, builders and trades people are inadequate. The institutional capabilities of the Building Industry Authority (BIA) were also a concern. It is believed that there is insufficient good quality information available to facilitate operational and investment decision-making. These areas are seen as key to the proposed initiatives of accreditation, certification, and additional Acceptable Solutions working successfully.

Clarify and strengthen the directions to and from the regulator There is general support in favour of clarifying and strengthening the directions to and from the regulator. Most reviewed submissions believe that the importance of amenity and durability should be increased (80%), converted apartments should meet all the provisions of the Building Code (90%) and houses should be recognised as a special place (75%). However, there are concerns regarding increased compliance costs relating to apartment conversion and that all buildings are of equal significance and, therefore, homes should not be treated differently. Some believed that other general values should also be considered (60%). Those mentioned include sustainability, impact on the environment, community and utilities.

Strengthened building controls More detailed Building Code Most reviewed submissions (70%) believed that building controls needed strengthening. There is suggestion that the Building Code requires additional detail in specific areas including weathertightness, insulation, installation, health and safety. Many suggested that the existing Code should be clearer, better understood, and the guidance notes improved. Some believed that performance requirements should be set out in the Code to aid compliance.

More rigour Although most reviewed submissions (80%) believe the BIA should have stronger powers, there is concern about the BIA’s current competencies and accountability. There is support for the BIA being able to ban or restrict building methods/products and requiring an Acceptable Solution to be used, but that this power should be restricted - specifically to high risk areas: where standards are not met, there is evidence of failure or there are significant health and safety issues.

More Acceptable Solutions More Acceptable Solutions are supported (65%). Some believed this would lead to better buildings and a direct positive impact, as more Acceptable Solutions would increase confidence, provide clarity and possibly lower compliance costs. However, there are concerns that additional Acceptable Solutions need to be of high quality and be clearly understood to be effective.

Accrediting inspectors & certifiers Most reviewed submissions (70%) believe that the accreditation proposal would help improve the quality of inspection services. Highly proficient TAs (Territorial Authorities) and building certifiers, and consistency in decisions are mentioned as being the critical factors.

Product and process certification There is significant support for a product certification process (80%). Nearly all submitters believed this would lead to better quality buildings and designs and the BIA should be able to require a certified product to be used in specific circumstances. It is also suggested that whole systems, as well as products, should be certified. Quality installation is also raised as being important.

Registration There is a high level of support for registration (85%), although who should be registered is unclear. Some suggested that it should be only those who perform a critical function. There is support for mandatory registration where work requires a building consent, although possibly a dollar value threshold should be attached. Nearly all submitters thought that TAs should not be responsible for assessing qualifications and skills, as there is general concern regarding the competency of TAs. Most believed that owner-builders should have the same responsibilities as registered builders, but could possibly be recognised separately. Again, the idea of a dollar value threshold is proposed.

Regulatory impact analysis A significant number of reviewed submissions (60%) believe that a published regulatory impact analysis would ensure that the BIA takes all the benefits and costs into account when creating new regulations. It is noted that this analysis would be very complex and should involve consultation from industry and other government departments. Nearly all believed that the concept of the whole life of a building should be taken into account.

Improving information There is general belief that all involved in the industry could be better informed, including homeowners. Information needs to be low cost, clear, simple and directed at specific users. It needs to cover legislation, compliance, obligations and technical areas. The most important education gap in the industry is viewed as insufficient appropriately qualified people. This specifically includes practical training, and complete process and regulatory knowledge.

Putting things right There is support for “putting things right”. Most reviewed submissions (70%) believe that mandatory warranties would be helpful in clarifying responsibilities and there is merit to providing an accessible dispute resolution procedure. It is unclear whether home warranty insurance, a guarantee fund or performance bonds should be a mandatory feature of building regulations. There is support (70%) for infringement penalties, especially where a system of de-registration could operate. There is also support for the BIA to have an enforcement role.

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