Under the 2004 Building Act builders need to be licenced.  All builders are required to qualify for a license by meeting a number of criteria.

The criteria that are likely to be taken into consideration are:

  • Building trade qualifications;
  • Building experience;
  • Historical problems (such as involvement in construction of leaky buildings).

Builders will also need to take steps to ensure that they keep their license.  As in all industries that are regulated, the responsibility will fall on to the license holder to ensure their work, or the work of those under their supervision, meets the appropriate quality standards.  This involves:

  • Using Building Code approved products;
  • Ensuring the work meets industry approved standards;
  • Complying with all other aspects of the Act (i.e. obtaining building consents before building commences, building in accordance with the consent, obtaining codes of compliance for all building work, rectifying faults with workmanship and/or products within a reasonable time);
  • Standing by the warranties imposed by the Act (i.e. reporting to the relevant territorial authority and the owner, if building work is not being carried out in accordance with a building consent);
  • Certifying specified systems in a compliance schedule for a building (this includes inspection of and the issue of certificates and written reports to the building owner).

Each building consent now includes details of the licensed building practitioners who will be involved in carrying out or supervising the work.  Those named are required to certify that the work complies with the relevant building consent at conclusion of the work.

As the license is personal to the building practitioner dealing with the project, the responsibility comes back to them.  There is no doubt this regime will change aspects of building industry practices including the supervision levels required.

Builders also need to be careful how they deal with current claims (i.e. leaky building issues) to not only protect exposure to personal liability, but also to avoid being declined a license because of past indiscretions.  Experience in New South Wales, where licencing was introduced prior to New Zealand, shows that complaints are vigorously investigated and in several instances, licences have been either suspended or totally cancelled as a result of disciplinary proceedings.

Builders need to act now to plan for [qualifying for and] keeping their licence.