Launched by Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson, the portal can be accessed through the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) web site atwww.dbh.govt.nz/lbp.
It is linked to an online LBP database allowing consumers to check if practitioners are licensed and to obtain the latest information about them.
The roll-out of the portal’s functionality will occur progressively. LBPs will be sent detailed information about this, as well as a log-on code as part of the relicensing process.
The portal has already been an early hit. In the first day after its launch, 22 LBPs used it to relicense. The transition to the online process has been problem-free, with practitioners commenting they’ve found it easy to use, efficient and convenient.
During the phase-in period it was available only to those due to relicense by the end of June, but it will shortly be opened up for all LBPs to use.
The LBP scheme was established in November 2007 as one of a package of changes introduced by the Building Act 2004 to improve control and encourage better overall practices in design and construction.
Mr Williamson endorses the scheme as a simple, universal and reliable way for people to recognise who they can trust to undertake construction work for them.
“LBPs are an important component of the changes which bring national consistency to the building sector, upskill the sector and make it more productive,” he says.
“Licensing is important because it aims to ensure that critical design and building work is carried out by people who have clearly demonstrated they meet a nationally licensed level of competence.
“That’s the goal of this Government and the DBH — to ensure that only those who have the skills to design and build to the required level are licensed to do so.
“New Zealand begins one of the biggest rebuilding projects in its history.
“With the repair of leaky homes and the Christchurch rebuild, the need for the New Zealand public to have confidence in the building industry and in the quality of the work that home owners will receive has never been greater,” Mr Williamson says.
Central to the scheme is the concept of “restricted building work” (RBW) for homes and small-to-medium-sized apartments. RBW is defined as work that is critical to the structural integrity of the building.
From March 2012, it is the Government’s intention that RBW can be carried out or supervised only by an LBP with a license for the class of work concerned.
LBPs can be licensed in more than one licence class providing they can demonstrate they are competent and meet the required standards in each class they apply for.
By the end of May more than 9400 licences had been issued — including more than 2000 in Canterbury — meaning the scheme is well on track for next March’s introduction of the restricted building work concept.
Growth in LBP numbers is also progressing well in the Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin regions.
While sign-up rates have been slower in a number of provincial areas such as Taranaki, Nelson, Hawkes Bay, Northland and Bay of Plenty, the DBH says awareness of the scheme is growing, and continuing solid growth in LBP numbers is expected.