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The Department of Building and Housing today launched a two-year campaign “Build it Right” aimed at improving the quality of building in New Zealand and increasing the confidence of consumers.
The initiative will improve the productivity, efficiency and accountability of the building sector in New Zealand.
The first major change is the introduction of Restricted Building Work (RBW)on 1 March 2012. This means most residential building work requiring abuilding consent must be carried out by Licensed Building Practitioners (LBP).
Department of Building and Housing sector capability deputy chief executiveAlison Geddes says the programme of work being introduced over the coming months will raise standards in the sector while doing away with unnecessary red tape.
“The first step has been to ensure we have enough LBPs assessed within a range of competencies relating to their licence class. Only they will be able tocarry out RBW which is design and construction work critical to the integrity of a building,” Ms Geddes says.
“The Licensed Building Practitioner programme will give consumers additional comfort that they‟re getting experienced building practitioners and ultimately a quality job,” she says.
Six licence classes relate to RBW - designers, carpenters, external plasterers, brick and block layers, foundation specialists and roofers. Registered architects, gas-fitters and plumbers, as well as chartered professional engineers, who are registered with their own professional authorities, are treated as being licensed.
Ms Geddes says New Zealand‟s future economic prosperity depends upon astrong and successful building and construction industry.
“Over the past few years the Department and the industry have worked very hard to find initiatives that will allow the industry to flourish while offering consumers greater comfort and protection. I think this programme of work reflects that.”
The Department of Building and Housing‟s aim is to improve building quality and housing availability in New Zealand.
The Department is the Government agency responsible for helping New Zealanders affected by weather-tightness problems. Our aim is to help peopleget their houses repaired. We manage the weather-tight homes‟ dispute resolution service and the leaky homes repair scheme.
The Department was set up in November 2004 to work with the sector as awhole. Until then, five different government agencies had worked on building and housing issues.
Building and housing are very important to the economy as a whole, as well as to people‟s daily lives. The sector contributes around $1 in every $25, and employs one in every 12 workers.
The Department works closely with others to deal with the longer-term challenges facing building and housing in New Zealand. This includes lifting skill levels in the building sector, to help ensure there‟s no repeat of the leaky homes crisis.
Building Act 2004
The Building Act 2004 is the legislation that governs the building industry inNew Zealand. The Act aims to improve control of, and encourage better practices in building design and construction.
In 2009 Government agreed to a Terms of Reference for a review of the Building Act 2004 to reduce the costs, but not the quality, of the building control system. The review found that the building regulatory system was not broken but was costly and inefficient. The review did note that changes made by the Building Act 2004 had contributed much-needed improvements to the quality ofbuilding work. The review also found that:
Two Building Act Amendment Bills contain the core regulatory changes identified in the Building Act review.
These Bills are expected to be through the House in 2012.
Licensed Building Practitioner Scheme
Under the Building Act 2004 the Department of Building and Housing established, in November 2007, the Licensed Building Practitioner Scheme. This scheme sets out a regulated process where skilled and/or qualified building practitioners are required to demonstrate their ability to meet industryagreed competencies in order to obtain the status of being a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP). The scheme has seven licence classes:
Registered Architects, Gasfitters and Plumbers as well as CharteredProfessional Engineers who are registered with their own professional authorities, are already considered licensed.
Why use an LBP?The Licensed Building Practitioner logo confirms for consumers that the building practitioners they are engaging have been assessed as having the competencies in their licensed field.
To retain their licence, an LBP must continue to provide the Department witha record of training and activities such as reading industry publications or attending seminars they‟ve undertaken as a means of ensuring their knowledge of their trade stays current.
From 1 March 2012, changes to the Building Act 2004 mean that buildingwork (including design work) that relates to either the structure (load-bearingwalls; foundations etc) or moisture penetration (roofs; cladding etc) of homes including small to medium sized apartments will be classified as "RestrictedBuilding Work‟ (RBW).
Restricted Building Work, which also includes the design of fire safety systems for small to medium apartments, is deemed to be building work critical to the integrity of a building and therefore required to be carried out by competent, appropriately licensed building practitioners. Restricted Building Work for which a consent application was not made before1 March 2012, must use Licensed Building Practitioners. After 1 March 2012,it‟s an offence for an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise restricted building work and it‟s an offence to knowingly engage an unlicensed person tocarry out or supervise restricted building work.