The 4th Amendment


The No 3 amendment also introduced risk-based or step consenting, something which is designed to ensure the regulatory regime adopted by Building Consent Authorities does not treat all buildings as high risk.

It does this through establishing four categories of building consent — low risk, simple residential, standard and commercial. These are not yet defined in detail, and work is under way to define these further.
There are also extensions to Schedule 1 which includes a wider range of work not requiring a building consent.

‘Consent completion certificates’
No 3 also confirms the “design to code” and “build to design” philosophy, and changes the “code compliance certificates” (CCC) to “consent completion certificates” (still a CCC but with a different meaning and obligation).

No 3 allows for the owner-builder exemption from the Licensed Building Practitioner regime and, while it does not detail restricted building work, a recent “order” (basically a regulation) introduced that, and guidance notes are being developed by the DBH to assist in interpretation of restricted building work.
So then, what is Amendment No 4 all about?

It introduces enhanced and more comprehensive consumer protection measures, including mandatory written contracts for residential work over $20,000, mandatory disclosure of certain information by building contractors before a contract is entered into (called pre-contract information) and, while this is yet to be defined, will include things such as a contractor’s skill, qualifications, licensing status and track record.

We’re not sure what that means, and don’t particularly like the sound of it either.
It also introduces new offenses for breaching these requirements — ie, a $20,000 fine.
It extends again and reformats the exemptions under Schedule 1 of the Building Act, and adds a power for councils to deal with buildings that are at risk because they are near or adjacent to dangerous buildings. This is predominantly as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes.

The 4th Amendment is also designed to protect consumers in relation to residential building work by implying warranties into residential building contracts, and providing remedies for breaches of these implied warranties.
It requires a builder to remedy a defect notified within one year of completion, and certain information and documentation must be provided on completion of the building work.

Yet to be qualified
Again, this is yet to be qualified (it will be done by regulation), but will most likely be associated with proving product warranty information, and maintenance requirements for the owner and subsequent owners.

What’s still to be addressed yet is the joint and several liability question which the Government is investigating.
Part of this enquiry will need to consider the role of home warranties and the requirement of surety providers that stand behind them.
This is a very complex issue, and the Federation understands the Law Commission may be requested to consider this matter, given its wider application.

There is still a lot of detail to be delivered through regulation which is where the rubber hits the road in its daily application.
The Federation does not expect these amendments to be through until 2012, although licensing will proceed as planned from March 2012.

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