Building sector facing significant legislative reform

Posted by Deanna Clark on September 13 2019 in News

In a recent discussion paper, the Government identified a number of longstanding problems within the building sector including inconsistent and insufficient practices, low productivity, labour shortages and poor health and safety practices. It has therefore proposed changes to five areas of the building regulatory system. These will be the most significant reforms since the introduction of the Building Act 2004 and if passed, will come into effect over the next two to five years.

building sector facing significant legislative reform

The proposed changes focus on three outcomes:

  1. Safe and durable buildings;
  2. An efficient regulatory system that people have confidence in; and
  3. A high performing building sector that builds it right the first time.

Proposed changes include:

  • Creating an explicit responsibility on manufacturers and suppliers of building products to ensure that they are fit for their intended purpose, and provide publicly accessible information about their products and methods.
    This would ensure that people understand and are able to carry out their roles and responsibilities, and ensure work is code compliant as they have access to the necessary product information.
  • Broadening the definition of 'restricted building work' to include all residential and more complex non-residential building work (such as work on high-rise buildings and health care facilities), and establishing higher competence requirements.
    Broadening the schemes coverage means that more people will need to become a licensed building practitioner, or to be supervised by one in order to undertake restricted works. This will increase confidence that practitioners have the necessary skills and competence to undertake the work.
  • Requiring guarantee and insurance products for residential new builds and significant alterations, with the option for homeowners to actively opt out.

    This would arrange for problems to be fixed and/or for compensation to be provided.
  • Lowering the building levy (from $2.01 to $1.50 per $1,000) and standardising the threshold to $20,444.

    This would lower building consent fees, reduce confusion regarding when the levy applies, and reduce the number of consent applications that will incur the levy.
  • Increasing the maximum financial penalties for individuals and organisations in proportion to the consequences of the offences e.g. the penalty for a failure to comply with a notice when a building is dangerous, affected or insanitary is currently $200,000. The proposed penalty would be increased to $300,000 for individuals and $1.5m for organisations.

    This will improve compliance by practitioners and organisations through deterring illegal or unethical behaviour.

If you would like more information regarding the above, or have any questions, please contact us.

Author: Deanna Clark

This paper gives a general overview of the topics covered and is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice.