Changes are a potential sea change


The Building Act Amendment No. 4 is part way through its second reading. It has been through the Select Committee and is back in the House, but still has the Committee of the Whole House stage and third reading to go.

However, once it has passed these steps, all of the consumer protection mechanisms will have regulations developed to put them in place.
I have written about the affects before so will not repeat myself, other than to say watch this space as we will have to respond by providing you with the correct information and documentation.

Running in parallel with these changes are a number of other important things: the review of Joint and Several Liability being undertaken by the Law Commission, and the development of a National On-line Consenting System (NOCS).
There is also, of course, the Building Act No. 3 Amendments that were passed over a year ago, some of which are waiting to be enacted, such as risk-based consenting.
All of these changes are culminating in a potential sea change that we have been waiting for for a very long time. It will be over to the Government and Building Consent Authorities to be bold and embrace these so we can get on and construct houses as quickly as we can.

Housing affordability is a hot topic at the moment, and is looming to be a big election issue. The Government is responding by speeding up the resource consent process, launching the Housing Accord initiative, and investigating the cost of materials.

And the Reserve Bank is looking at loan-to-value ratios for first home buyers, all in an effort to slow the rapid growth in property values, particularly in Auckland.
What they shouldn’t forget are the Building Act changes. They have the potential to have quite an impact on affordability.

One in every five homes sold is a new home. The trouble is it takes too long for the new home market to respond to a pick-up in demand, so up go prices for existing homes.
Imagine if one in every three homes sold was a new home and they took a shorter time to build as there was less “government” in the process by way of consent paperwork and inspections, and more self certification by construction companies.

Fixing new problems with old solutions
There is nothing more frustrating for a building company than time delays — just look at the Christchurch situation — and that is just the consents. Then there is the wait for the inspections to start and the CCCs to be completed.

We are trying to fix new problems with old solutions, and it is failing. The mouse can only run so fast on its wee wheel. It is time to bring in the changes the Building Act Amendments promised — and fast, before it is too late.
About 80% of NZ homes are low risk — they do not need mountains of paper work, 15 inspections and so on.
We have LBPs now, consumers will have further protections when the No. 4 Amendment is passed, New Zealand has home warranties and many quality building companies that stand behind their work.

It is time to introduce risk-based consenting, self certification and other things so the consumer can have an affordable home at no greater risk than today’s process.
I always find it interesting that the highest risk properties (for example, hotels, office buildings etc) have very little real oversight by BCAs, and they rely on producer statements and quality peer reviews by the private sector.

Yet they are all over the lowest risk buildings like a rash. Historical, I guess.

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