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A Bill to revamp the Building Act 1991 is tabled

28 August 2003 Media Statement

Building Bill tabled in Parliament

A Bill to revamp the Building Act 1991 was tabled in Parliament today.

Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel said that this marked an important milestone in the development of a balanced regulatory framework for the building industry that both industry and consumers have been seeking.

"The phrase that I have been using over the last few months after listening to the range of stakeholders from the architects to the builders, from the building occupiers to the homeowners, is that it's better to "design and build it right first time'," Lianne Dalziel said.

"While the weathertightness issue was a catalyst for this work, scrutiny of the industry has allowed us to look at wider issues relating to building regulation.

"The changes in the Building Bill focus on:

- Better building controls and a more proactive regulator, which will provide better articulation of the Building Code, coupled with better guidance and information on how to meet the requirements of the Building Code.

- Better administration of building controls, with more reliable inspection and code compliance requirements.

- More competent and better-informed building practitioners, who will certify their work.

- Better-informed and protected consumers."

The Bill follows a comprehensive review of current building regulation, including consideration of the Hunn report, the Select Committee Inquiry into Weathertightness and the discussion paper Better Regulation of the Building Industry in New Zealand.

"This Bill is the culmination of an extensive consultation process, and I wish to pay tribute to the literally hundreds of stakeholders, who offered advice during this important phase. In particular I want to thank all the retired engineers and builders who made representations to me, even though they had no personal stake in the industry anymore. There is a real professionalism within the industry that wants to be part of the solution, rather than the problem."

Lianne Dalziel said she was confident that there would be widespread support for the Bill, although she anticipated improvements being promoted through the Select Committee process.

"For my own part, I am continuing to look at the role of developers and whether there are sufficient protections for both consumers and head contractors."

Once the Building Bill has its first reading Lianne Dalziel intends to refer it to the Government Administration Select Committee. A pamphlet outlining the proposed changes is available online at www.med.govt or by contacting the Ministry of Economic Development, PO Box 1473, Wellington, (04) 472 0030, or email buildingreview@med.govt.nz.

The General Policy Statement is attached.

General Policy Statement

This Bill provides for the repeal of the Building Act 1991 and for the introduction of a new regulatory framework for building work, building practitioners and product certification and accreditation.

The purpose of the Bill is to provide for the regulation of building work, the establishment of a licensing regime for building practitioners and the setting of performance standards for buildings; to ensure that -

(a) people who use buildings can do so safely and without endangering their health; and

(b) buildings provide an appropriate level of amenity for people who use them;

(c) people who use a building can escape from the building if it is on fire; and

(d) .buildings are constructed and used in ways that promote sustainable development

This Bill strengthens the building regulatory regime by providing the regulatory framework to ensure inputs into buildings are of a high quality. This is achieved by:

- Strengthening the role of the regulator;

- Requiring a review of the Building Code within two years to ensure it is specific enough about the standards to be met;

- Providing for the development of compliance documents that set out how the Code standards can be met. These can require certain building methods and can ban the use of particular products;

- Providing for best practice guidance documents to provide information to territorial authorities, building consent authorities and building practitioners to help them meet their obligations;

- Requiring accreditation and audit of building consent authorities

- Providing for the licensing of building practitioners.

To enhance direct and indirect protection to consumers, the Bill:

- incorporates a reference to amenity alongside the existing references to health and safety in the purpose statement of the Act;

- requires the regulator, when carrying out its functions to achieve the overall purposes of the Act, to take account of the important role played by household units in people's lives;

- gives express recognition in the Act to the importance of standards of design and construction in achieving the objectives of the Act;

- increases the emphasis on durability and standards of maintenance; and

- provides for mandatory standard warranties.

Sustainable development will be promoted by the development of building standards in relation to energy efficiency, energy conservation, water efficiency and water conservation.


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