The rules that will set out the standards of competence that building practitioners must meet in order to be licensed were announced recently by Building and Construction Minister Clayton Cosgrove.
The Registered Master Builders Federation (RMBF) has been working closely with members, key industry stakeholders and the Department of Building and Housing to ensure the new Licensed Building Practitioners (LBP) scheme is practicable for builders, and that it ultimately serves to protect the consumer through higher levels of professionalism in the construction industry.
Industry ‘blood, sweat and tears’
“We have been working hard on the licensing framework for some two years now, and the rules as they have been promulgated are a culmination of a lot of industry ‘blood, sweat and tears’,” RMBF chief executive Pieter Burghout says.
“The RMBF agrees with the intent and the philosophy of LBP and the rules themselves, but where we still have a major concern is around the as yet unknown exemption for DIYers.
“At the launch of the rules the Minister once again reiterated that he fully supports the Kiwi tradition of ‘having a go’ when it comes to DIY.
“We have been happy to have exploratory discussions with the Minister and the Department around how such a licensing exemption might work and, in principle, we would be happy to look at what we call ‘true blue DIYers’.
“The danger we foresee is where, unless properly frameworked, the exemptions allow rogue builders, who either cannot or will not be licensed, to masquerade as DIYers and carry on building, potentially putting consumers at risk and undermining the integrity of the whole LBP scheme,” he says.
Where an owner-builder exemption has been poorly introduced in other countries — such as Australia and Canada — they have found that instead of there being just 3-5% of owner-built homes each year (which is what we would expect based on current numbers), that has mushroomed out to 30% and higher.
“Those countries are now tightening up on the exemption, because they have realised that in making the exemption too loose, they are letting the rogue builders carry on getting away without needing to meet the required industry skills standards,” Mr Burghout says.
“In our own survey work we did with Colmar Brunton, 96% of Kiwis have said that the critical parts of a house should be done by a building professional, and so New Zealanders agree that any DIY exemption should not be too loose.
“The intention of the LBP scheme is to ensure New Zealanders can be assured of having their homes designed and built ‘right first time’.
“We agree and, therefore, it remains absolutely critical we get the LBP scheme right for the future of our industry, and that we agree a position on DIYers that will work without undermining the whole scheme.”