Building Regulations are rules and standards set out in the Building Act 2004.
The Building Act is the legislation that governs the building industry in New Zealand. The Act aims to improve control of, and encourage better practices in, building design and construction.
What Building regulations do I need to know about?
Before you hire a Designer, Builder or other contractor you must make sure they are a Licensed Building Practitioner if the work to be carried out is Restricted Building Work.
There are some important new changes to the Building Act regarding building contracts that you should know about too (covered below).
What is "Restricted Building Work"
On 1st March 2012 the Act introduced Restricted Building Work rules. This means, that any structural or weathertight work on a property must be carried out by competent professionals. Competent professionals are certified as Licensed Building Practitioners, or LBP's (Designers, Builders, Plumbers, Electricians). Gone are the days when any handyman or DIY person can wire up a house or replace the roof!
The type of work that is Restricted Building Work (or RBW) includes:
- Building design
- Foundations and sub-floor framing
- Walls and wall cladding
- Water proofing
- Columns and beams
In order to get building consent, your building plans must be submitted by a Design LBP, Chartered Engineer or Registered Architect. In order to get code of compliance all work carried out must be completed or supervised by an LBP, with a Record of Work memorandum signed off.
What about Building Contracts?
On January 1st 2015, new regulations were introduced that have an impact on how you enter a building contract with a builder, or any contractor where the cost of works is over $30,000. In summary, these regulations include:
- Mandatory written contracts for residential building work costing $30,000 or more (including GST)
- A requirement for building contractors to provide checklists and disclose statements for residential building work $30,000 or more (including GST) or when they are asked for this
- Any changes once building has started must be documented
- Infringement fees of $500 for breaching the contract, disclosure or checklist requirements.
Make sure your Builder has presented their checklist and disclosure statement to you in the early stages of contract discussions. There then MUST be a building contract in place before work begins. Additionally, the law sets out implied warranties that apply to all residential building work for up to 10 years, regardless of whether or not there is a written contract or what the contract terms are.
From 1 January 2015, the first 12 months from the date that residential building work is complete counts as a ‘defect repair period’. During this time it is the contractors’ responsibility to prove that any defects are through no fault of their own (or their product) if there is a dispute about whether or not the matter is a defect.
Ask your Builder what types of additional guarantees they can offer. Many Builders and Building Companies offer products you can purchase to protect yourselves from or against events such as loss of deposit, non-completion of the building work, defective workmanship and materials, rot and fungal decay and structural defects. These guarantees usually last 10 years, must be arranged before building work commences.
Building your house is a huge investment. Building regulations and The Building Act are there to increase consumer protection measures. Know your rights and make sure all work is carried out by professionals, and in a professional manner.
Stay tuned for a more in depth article on Building Regulations in NZ, coming soon.