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Building Act 2004 Q&As

Building Act 2004

What are the main changes brought about by the Act?

The changes (to the Building Act 1991) aim to encourage and improve control of better practices in building design and construction, so that buildings are designed and built right first time. This will give greater assurance to owners, particularly homeowners, that their building meets standards set out in the Building Code.

What are the changes 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.

Under the Building Act, who can do what?

The Act will introduce a licensing scheme for building practitioners (or builders, designers, and some other building related trades), similar to the ones that apply to electricians and engineers. The aim of the legislation is to make sure that building work is done or supervised by competent people. It will not hamper skilled professionals, but will ensure standards are high.

When will this be happening? How much time do I have?

From late 2009 it will be compulsory to use a licensed person to do or supervise "restricted work". People can register voluntarily as soon as the register is up and running. This is likely to be 2007. "Restricted work" will be defined in regulations, and is structural work that if done badly could lead to harm to people or buildings. Examples are the removal of a structural wall or the building of a high deck. Industry input is being sought on what is to be included in restricted work. This definition is yet to be finalised.

What about small stuff? Can DIYers still do building work?

Owner builders/DIers will still be able to do non-restricted building work without supervision - for instance, gibbing, plastering, building low decks or fitting out a kitchen. But, from late 2009, DIers who do restricted building work will have to be supervised by a licensed person. This is to ensure that those who live in or use these buildings are protected, and that future owners are assured that restricted work was done or supervised by an appropriately licensed person.

How will jobs be checked to ensure high standards are achieved?

The Act now proposes that Code Compliance Certificates, which are the confirmation the finished building complies with the Building Code, be assessed against the provisions in place when the building consent was issued at the start of the building process.

This ensures the goal posts can't be moved in the middle of a project and focuses on getting decisions right at the start of the building process. It is a practical, workable solution to an issue that concerned many.

What about claims that says the new Building Act does nothing to address problems in the construction industry?

Hon. John Tamihere has responded to this by stating that the issues will be addressed in changes to the Companies Act next year to deal with "phoenix" construction companies, which are set up for individual construction projects and then deregistered. "The legislation does not set out the specifics. We are currently consulting on how the licensing regime should work, which will also be included in regulations," he said.

What are the effects of the Building Act 2004 on Building Certifiers?

The Act provides that on 31 March 2005 the 1991 Act is repealed and new building consent provisions apply. The 2004 Act gives no powers to building certifiers to undertake certification work on consents after 31 March 2005. The Act does, however, allow certifiers to complete work on consents issued under the 1991 Act for a period of up to either 18 months or 26 months from 30 November 2004, depending on whether or not they have applied for registration as a Building Consent Authority by 31 May 2006.

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