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Building Bill passed

12 August 2004

Building Bill passed

Parliament today endorsed the changes set out in the Building Bill, with the majority voting to pass the Bill into law.

Associate Commerce Minister, and Minister responsible for the soon to be established Department of Building and Housing, John Tamihere, welcomed the legislation’s passage.

"This act is about all New Zealanders feeling safe about the houses and buildings they live and work in," Mr Tamihere said.

"For many of us, the biggest investment we make in our lives is the house we purchase, and we must ensure that Kiwi home-owners' investment is protected.

"This legislation introduces a range of measures to make sure our buildings are built right from the start, and puts in place better checks and balances on the building industry."

Mr Tamihere said that although the legislation first arose because of the weathertightness issue, the review of building industry regulation quickly discovered the problems were much broader.

The new Act was part of a wider set of measures the government has brought in over the last few years to improve accountability and certainty in the construction industry, Mr Tamihere said.

"The expansion of the Ministry of Housing to the Department of Building and Housing is a key element of making sure this wider view continues and will help bring all these measures together."

Background: Building Act 2004 – key changes

About the new Act

Changes to the Building Act 1991 have been passed by Parliament.

The changes, set out in the Building Act 2004, aim to improve control of, and encourage better practices in building design and construction, so that buildings are designed and built right first time. This will give greater assurance to all building owners and users, particularly homeowners, that their building meets standards set out in the Building Code.

What the changes are designed to achieve: More clarity on the standards we expect buildings to meet. More guidance on how those standards can be met. More capable people undertaking building design, construction and building inspections. More scrutiny in the building consent and inspection process. Better protections for homeowners through the introduction of mandatory warranties.

The changes were set out in the Building Bill, which was introduced into Parliament in 2003, considered by the Government Administration Select Committee, and passed by Parliament on 11 August 2004. The Act comes into force on 30 November 2004.

What the Building Act 2004 Does

The Building Act 2004 introduces a new framework for the regulation of building work, establishes a licensing regime for building practitioners, and sets performance standards for buildings. The Act regulates inputs into building work while continuing to provide for performance-based standards that building work must achieve. It repeals the Building Act 1991 and dissolves the Building Industry Authority. Administration of the Building Act shifts to a government department – the Department of Building and Housing

Building Code Changes The Building Code will be reviewed by 30 November 2007 to ensure that performance standards for buildings are clear and meet community expectations. These changes will take into account the new purpose provisions for sustainable development and attributes of buildings that contribute to well-being.

Mandatory Compliance Documents Certain methods that must be used in order to comply with the Building Code can be prescribed by regulation. This will be done by the Department of Building and Housing.

Warnings and Bans Warnings about and bans on, the use of certain building products or methods can be issued by the Department of Building and Housing.

Certification of Building Products Products can be certified as complying with the Building Code. These certificates will be issued by accredited certification bodies. These bodies will be accredited by an accreditation agency appointed by the Chief Executive of the Department of Building and Housing.

Determinations The Chief Executive can make determinations on a range of issues including a Building Consent Authority’s refusal to issue a consent, Code compliance certificate, compliance schedule or certificate of acceptance. The Act sets out clear processes and timelines for these determinations.

Building Advisory Panel The Chief Executive of the Department of Building and Housing must appoint a building advisory panel from whom he or she will be able to seek advice on, among other things, current and emerging trends and whether regulations are achieving their purpose. This panel will be drawn from experts from the building sector. A public process will be used in appointing the Panel.

Regulation of Building Consent Authorities Building consent authorities will need to be registered to issue building consents, Code compliance certificates, notices to fix and certificates of acceptance. The Act allows for registration of both Councils and private companies and individuals. To be registered the applicant will have to be accredited as meeting quality standards for their procedures, processes and people. This accreditation will be carried out by an accreditation body appointed by the Chief Executive of the Department of Building and Housing. The other standards that a Building Consent Authority will need to meet will be set out in regulations.

Councils, companies and individuals will need to be registered by 30 November 2007 to carry out functions as a Building Consent Authority.

Building Consents All territorial authorities must accept and process applications for building consents (except in relation to dams). Consents can also be issued by private companies who are registered Building Consent Authorities. From 30 November 2009, applications for consents will have to include a list of the licensed building practitioners that will be involved in the project.

Regional authorities will be responsible for the consenting dams.

Code Compliance Certificates The Building Consent Authority that issued the building consent will be responsible for the inspection of that work and the issue of code compliance certificates. These certificates will be issued if the building has been built in compliance with the building consent.

Certificates of Acceptance The Act provides for a new instrument called a certificate of acceptance. These can be issued when a building consent was not applied for before the work commenced, or where inspections cannot be done to accurately decide if the work was done in accordance with the consent. This allows a Building Consent Authority to inspect and certify what work they can as being Code compliant.

Changing a Building’s Use Where a building has changed from commercial to residential then the building must meet, as reasonably practical, all building Code requirements. The Act does allow for improvements in fire safety and access for people with disabilities without the need to upgrade all other aspects of the building. What a change in use is will be set out in regulation.

Licensing of Building Practitioners The Act provides for the licensing of building practitioners. Restricted work Regulations will also define certain work as having to be done or supervised by a Licensed Building Practitioner. This work is called “restricted work”. Categories of Licences Exactly what types of trades will be licensed will be set out in regulation. The Department of Building and Housing will administer the licensing system. Board People will be able to make complaints about licensed building practitioners. These complaints will be heard by an independent Board appointed under the Act. Further information about the licensing system is available at www.builder.govt.nz or by calling 0800 60 60 50.

Mandatory Warranties The Act sets out certain warranties that are implied into all building contracts and any sale agreements made by building developers.

Fines The Act sets out a range of fines for offences and allows for the use of infringement notices for minor offences. The maximum fine for worst offences is $200 000.


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