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

A total of 470 submissions were received from people and organisations across the building and construction sector. Feedback received strongly supports the need for legislative change, and shows a high level of support for many of the proposals.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) also received a lot of valuable feedback on how the proposals can be refined, and how they can go further in some areas to make sure we achieve what’s needed.

Current status

On 11 October 2019 the Minister for Building and Construction announced the Government’s first set of decisions on the proposed building reforms. If passed into law, the reforms will significantly improve the efficiency of the building system, lift the quality of building work and deliver fairer outcomes when things go wrong.

Find out more about the reform programme(external link)

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.

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.

In the discussion paper, we proposed 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 proposed to strengthen the framework for product certification, and make consenting easier for modern methods of construction, including off-site manufacture.

Occupational regulation

In the discussion paper, we proposed a number of 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.

Specific proposals included broadening the definition of restricted building work, restricting who can carry out safety-critical engineering work, and repealing exemptions that allow unqualified people to carry out sanitary plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying in some cases.

The proposals also included 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.

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.

In the discussion paper, we proposed requiring a guarantee and insurance product to be 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.  The discussion paper sought 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.

Related documents

Building levy

In the discussion paper, we proposed several changes to the building levy to help reduce building consent fees without affecting service levels for levy-payers.

These included 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 proposed 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.

Offences, penalties and public notification

In the discussion paper, we proposed changes to offences and penalties to deter poor behaviour and better align the Building Act with other legislation that protects people’s lives and wellbeing.

We also proposed 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.

In addition, we proposed to update public notification requirements to reflect the public’s increasing use of the internet to access information.

Last updated: 11 October 2019