Scheme is born

By - , Build 187

This fifth article in the series on the history of the Licensed Building Practitioners Scheme looks at the introduction of restricted building work and what this means in practice.

THE BUILDING ACT 2004 introduced the concept of restricted building work (RBW), which is work that is critical to the integrity of a building. The Act also required that licensed building practitioners (LBPs) both carry out and design RBW, which meant that a new scheme would have to be developed.

First LBP licence in 2008 Following work with industry, the framework on which the LBP Scheme would operate was developed and refined and established in November 2007.

On 28 February 2008, the first building practitioner’s licence was granted – BP100001. At that stage, it was optional to hold a licence. RBW was not to become law for another 4 years on 1 March 2012.

Today, we have just over 27,000 LBPs holding 31,700 licences. Almost 4,400 practitioners are licensed in multiple licence classes.

MBIE regulator of the LBP Scheme

In 2004, the Building Industry Authority was disestablished, and its functions were transferred to the new Department of Building and Housing, which in turn was integrated into the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which began operating on 1 July 2012. The Occupational Regulation team within Te Whakatairanga Service Delivery is where a small team ensures the efficient ongoing administration of the LBP Scheme.

The Service Centre is the first point of contact for most LBPs – there is a dedicated team ready to answer queries and to pass on requests that need a decision to the Occupational Regulation team. The Service Centre can be reached on 0800 60 60 50.

The Building Practitioners Board

The Building Practitioners Board is a statutory body, independent from MBIE, whose members are appointed by the Minister for Building and Construction. Its role is to hear appeals against licensing decisions made by the Registrar, investigate and hear complaints against the conduct of LBPs, approve the LBP rules and submit an annual report to the Minister.

The wrong end of the stick

After 9 years of it being mandatory for RBW to be carried out or supervised by LBPs, a few things about the scheme continue to cause concern among some practitioners.

Accountability vs liability

Several practitioners are still under the impression that becoming an LBP has increased their liability when carrying out their work – this is not correct.

When practitioners are granted a licence, they become accountable or answerable to the Building Practitioners Board. The practitioner still operates under the same liabilities or legal responsibilities they have always had under the Building Act and Regulations and any other relevant laws.

To clarify, if the Board upholds a complaint against an LBP, the penalty affects no one outside the scheme. For example, an order to undergo formal training or cancellation of a licence only impacts the practitioner. If a fine is the penalty, it can’t be passed on to the complainant as compensation. This is being accountable to the Board.

If, however, an LBP is found guilty in a court of law of carrying out, say, illegal work, they could be held liable to pay for any damage or fix the problem and/or pay compensation to the owner. This liability has not changed due to becoming an LBP.

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Holding a building practitioner’s licence

Applying for and being granted a building practitioner’s licence is not the same as joining a club or a group where there is an expectation of value for money or a membership organisation – of which there are many in our industry. It is more akin to having your driver’s licence.

The LBP Scheme is a regulatory one with two purposes:

  • To ensure that building practitioners are assessed as having the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out the work.
  • To enable consumers to make informed choices.

The purpose of restricted building work is to ensure important aspects of building work are carried out or supervised by practitioners (LBPs) assessed as being competent.

One of the aims of licensing is to promote, recognise and support professional skills and knowledge in the sector. When you complete a certificate or record of work, you are stating that you carried out and/or supervised all the work under that document, and you are stating that it was carried out correctly.

Why wouldn’t you want to do this if you believe you are good at your job? The only time this could possibly present a problem to you is if you carried out or allowed incompetent work to be carried out under your supervision.

When you’re driving on our roads, you would like to hope and trust that the person driving towards you has been assessed as competent and holds a current driver’s licence. The consumer also wants to know that the person they are trusting to carry out what is often the biggest financial outlay of their lives has been assessed as competent and holds a current licence to carry out that work.

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Maintaining currency of skills and knowledge

However, just being assessed initially does not provide certainty for the consumer that the practitioner is still competent several years later, especially considering the fast-changing environment we work in. It seems that, every time we turn around, there’s a new product or an old trusted product that has a new way of being installed or there is a design solution that is completely new and not used before.

Undoubtedly, one of the most contentious requirements of the LBP Scheme is continuing professional development or, as we know it, skills maintenance. Some say it’s too easy, for others, it’s too hard, and for some, it’s just not relevant. To find its relevance, we need to go back to the enabling document that instructed that the legislation leads to a well-informed sector that shares information and quickly identifies and corrects problems.

‘A well-informed sector’ and skills maintenance will be the topic in the next issue of Build.

Quiz:

1. Who is the regulator of the LBP Scheme?
a. The Service Centre.
b. MBIE.
c. The Building Practitioners Board.

2. What is the role of the Building Practitioners Board?
a. To hear appeals against licensing decisions made by the Registrar.
b. To investigate and hear complaints against the conduct of LBPs.
c. To approve the LBP rules.
d. To submit an annual report to the Minister.
e. All the above.

3. Has your liability increased by being an LBP?
a. No.
b. Yes.
c. Sometimes.

Answers: 1. b, 2. e, 3. a.

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Articles are correct at the time of publication but may have since become outdated.

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