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Leaky Buildings lessons ignored

Leaky Buildings lessons ignored

The New Zealand Government has not learnt from the leaky buildings debacle and is setting itself up for another disaster through charging tradespeople to access official Building Standards, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

The Building Act, which was past last year in response to the leaky buildings crisis, intended to make it easier for tradespeople and DIYers to follow the latest building rules.

"It was intended that New Zealanders be provided free access to all Building Standards by downloading them from the Internet. The Government today undid much of the hard work and lessons learned from the leaky buildings issue."

The Legislation (Incorporation by Reference) Bill, which passed today, removes the obligation for New Zealand Standards to be freely available, meaning builders, plumbers, electricians, architects and home renovators will continue to have to pay exorbitant charges to purchase copies to ensure their work complies with best practice.

"What is the point of putting in place standards that would ensure a leaky building crisis could not happen again, unless you ensure that all people have free access to them for their construction planning? Government claims that there are copyright issues that preclude free publication of these documents, however, that is a lame excuse, as Building Standards are owned by Standards New Zealand and the public of New Zealand and so there are no copyright," she says.

"It seems to me this could be a case of the Government wanting to protect Standards New Zealand's profit margins, rather than protecting the quality of New Zealand homes."

The Green Party wants to see all Building Standards owned by Standards New Zealand published online and freely available to New Zealanders. If this means that one Government department - the Department of Building and Housing has to purchase the copyright from another government agency - Standards New Zealand, then that is what should happen.

The Green's call is supported by the Registered Master Builders New Zealand. Manager Membership Service Jim Hagarty said: "Having the NZ Standards available freely on the Web would assist builders and subcontractors to keep up to date in all building related matters. It is a real shame this isn't going to happen."

The Green Party encourages tradespeople and homeowners to contact the Building Issues Minister and demand access to these important documents is freed up.

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