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Auckland Mayor calls for reform to Building Act and code

The Building Act and Building Code need radical and urgent reform to make them fit for purpose to tackle New Zealand’s housing crisis, says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

In submissions sent to the government by the Auckland Mayoral Housing Taskforce and Auckland Council, major changes are recommended which go beyond the government’s discussion paper.

“Aucklanders deserve to have greater assurance that when they buy a new home or renovate an existing one, the work done will be of high standard,” said Phil Goff.

“It’s time to change the situation whereby shoddy building products and poor design and workmanship are a cost loaded on to ratepayers rather than those whose incompetence cause the problem.

“The weather tightness issue has cost ratepayers $600 million because those who did the poor work are nowhere to be found and the council as the consenter is the “last man still standing”.

“What we need is an insurance and warranty scheme that directly incentivises companies to do the job properly and for general ratepayers through council to meet only a fair proportion of liability for substandard work. The insurance and warranty scheme needs to be compulsory for it to work.

“Secondly, we need a centralised and mandatory product register to certify that building products are fit for purpose. It’s absurd that 69 different councils acting as Building Consent Authorities have to separately examine and certify the same products. Duplication like this adds costs and inconsistency. Doing it centrally would be far more efficient”, the Mayor said.

“Thirdly, we need a Licensed Building Practitioners scheme which ensures that builders and associated trades have the skills, training, ongoing professional development and ethics to be relied on to do the job properly.

“Finally, the building code is also below international standards in what it requires for buildings to be energy efficient. Higher standards for insulation, ventilation, and efficient heating and lighting systems for new houses would cut energy use, reduce carbon emissions, ensure better health and wellbeing, and cut heating costs.

“We welcome the government’s move finally to reform the Building Act and code, but in these and other areas, it needs to go further than what is included in its discussion paper and to act with a greater sense of urgency,” Mayor Phil Goff said.

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