Push to build it right

This Issue This is a part of the Licensed building practitioners feature

By - , Build 129

The Department of Building and Housing is running a campaign to raise consumer awareness about the need to use licensed building practitioners. That means if you want people to call about work, you’d best be registered.

For many, it has been a long time coming – an occupational licensing scheme for the residential building and construction sector and a move to restrict certain kinds of building work to those who are qualified and/or experienced enough to do it.

The Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) Scheme introduced 5 years ago, and restricted building work (RBW), introduced in March, are among reforms being applied to the 2004 Building Act after a comprehensive review of the legislation governing the building and construction sector in New Zealand.

Quality houses and protection for consumers

The changes, aimed at lifting productivity, improving quality standards and offering better protection to both consumers and tradespeople, focus on a number of industry issues to ensure:

  • clearer accountabilities for owners, designers, builders and building consent authorities
  • consumer protection and remedy changes, including new general remedies
  • risk-based consenting, which will ensure that the amount of checking and inspection required is aligned to the complexity of the work and the skills and the capabilities of the people doing the work
  • a nationally consistent and efficient building regulatory system.

The LBP Scheme and RBW fit hand in glove and the time lag between the start of the scheme and the introduction of restrictions ensured there would be enough tradespeople licensed to carry out residential construction work.

Getting and keeping a licence

To register, a building practitioner must meet a number of competencies relating to the licence class they are applying for. They do this by providing evidence of their qualifications, and/or experience in the building industry.

To ensure licences are current, they must be renewed each year, and every second year practitioners must provide evidence of how they have maintained or further developed their skill and knowledge.

Educating consumers

A campaign to encourage tradespeople to apply for a licence has been under way for some time, but requests for licence registration packs have spiked since the Build It Right consumer campaign began in January.

The Department of Building and Housing website has plenty of information on the scheme for both homeowners and practitioners, including its background and a register of licensed practitioners.

Practitioners can also use their licence as a quality mark and the LBP ‘badge’ for marketing and promotional purposes – which is what some companies are already doing on commercial websites.

The first part of the 2-year Build it Right campaign is focused on restricted building work (RBW), making it even more essential for those wanting the ‘good jobs’ to become licensed.

RBW applies to the construction, alteration and design of houses and small to medium sized apartment buildings. It doesn’t apply to any ancillary buildings such as garages or garden sheds or to commercial property.

Consequently, any structural and weathertight renovations to residential houses or new builds will probably need to be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner.

Further changes to come

Subsequent parts of the Build it Right campaign will focus on pending changes to the Building Act that will go before Parliament sometime in 2012.

Building Act Amendment Bills 3 and 4 focus on a risk-based building consent system, including a DIY exemption from RBW, and introduce a number of protection measures that will help those who are building or renovating homes to get any faults fixed quickly and more efficiently and to ensure responsibility for the work falls to where it lies. The measures not only protect consumers but will ensure tradespeople aren’t held accountable for work they either didn’t do or that wasn’t faulty.

The regulatory changes are also supported by other work being led by the Department on joint and several liability, the Building Code, a national electronic consenting process, the Construction Contracts Act and sector productivity and engagement.

For more

For further information, visit www.dbh.govt.nz.

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