Building System Legislative Reform Programme public consultation

Submissions closed: 21 June 2019, 5pm

We are proposing major changes to New Zealand’s building laws to improve the quality of building work. These are the most significant reforms since the current Building Act was introduced in 2004.

About the consultation

The two-month consultation period for the proposed building law reforms closed on 21 June.

A total of 470 submissions were received from people and organisations across the building and construction sector.

MBIE is now working through the submissions to ensure its advice to the Minister for Building and Construction takes on board all feedback from the sector. Decisions from the Government are expected by the end of 2019, with any legislative changes likely to be rolled out over the next two to five years.

About the reforms

The building sector faces a number of long-standing problems. These problems range from low productivity and inefficient practices and processes, to skills and labour shortages, to poor health and safety.

The proposed changes affect people, products and practices in the building sector. Changes have been identified to improve building laws in five key areas.

Find out about all of the proposed changes by reading the following discussion paper, or you can read about changes in each section separately.


Please read this section first, to understand how the five parts of the building system legislative reform programme fit together.

Read a summary introducing the building system legislative reform programme [PDF, 211 KB]

Building products and methods

Building products and methods are central to safe and durable buildings. There are around 600,000 different building products being used in New Zealand today.

There are gaps in current regulations and disincentives that make the building regulatory system less efficient.

We're proposing changes to increase the quality of information about building products, hold people to account for building products and their use, and reduce the risk of defects in building work.

We also propose to strengthen the framework for product certification, and make consenting easier for modern methods of construction, including off-site manufacture.

Read a summary of the proposed changes for building products and methods [PDF, 220 KB]

Occupational regulation

We’re proposing changes to ensure that occupational regulation within the building sector is proportionate to public safety risks, there is confidence that practitioners have the right skills and will act professionally, and those responsible for substandard work will be held to account when it occurs.

We propose to broaden the definition of restricted building work, restrict who can carry out safety-critical engineering work, and repeal exemptions that allow unqualified people to carry out sanitary plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying in some cases.

The proposals also include a new, tiered licensing system to provide a progression pathway for licensed building practitioners, and a new, voluntary certification scheme for engineers, to provide assurance of professionalism and competence.

Read a summary of the proposed changes for occupational regulation [PDF, 233 KB]

Risk and liability

When it comes to the building process, homeowners often aren’t aware of the risks or what they can put in place to manage these risks. When something goes wrong, homeowners can face a long, expensive and stressful process to get compensated.

We are proposing to require a guarantee and insurance product is put in place for all residential new builds and significant alterations. Homeowners would be able to actively opt out of purchasing the guarantee and insurance product.

When things go wrong in the building process, liability settings affect who pays and how disputes are resolved.  MBIE is seeking feedback on whether changes are needed to address concerns that building consent authorities (BCAs) may face a disproportionate share of damages when other parties are absent.

We are proposing to leave the liability settings for BCAs unchanged. There are concerns that BCA liability leads to risk averse consenting processes. There have been suggestions to cap BCA liability. However, a cap may not be effective and may have unintended consequences for other participants in the building process.  

Read a summary of the proposed changes for risk and liability [PDF, 214 KB]

Related documents

Building levy

We propose several changes to the building levy to help reduce building consent fees without affecting service levels for levy-payers.

These changes include reducing the levy rate and standardising the levy threshold across building consent authorities (BCA). This would improve consistency and reduce the cost of building consents.

We also propose to broaden the scope of the levy to allow expenditure on stewardship activities such as monitoring, reviewing and reporting on regulatory systems, robust analysis and implementation support for changes to regulatory systems, and good regulator practice.

Read a summary of the proposed changes to the building levy [PDF, 212 KB]

Offences, penalties and public notification

Our proposed changes to offences and penalties aim to deter poor behaviour and better align the Building Act with other legislation that protects people’s lives and wellbeing.

We propose to increase the maximum financial penalties under the Building Act, set higher maximums for organisations than for individuals, and extend the timeframe for enforcement agencies to lay charges.

We also propose to update public notification requirements to reflect the public’s increasing use of the internet to access information.

Read a summary of the proposed changes to offences, penalties and public notification [PDF, 222 KB]

Further information

If you have any questions about the proposals or the submission process please email

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Last updated: 24 June 2019