The Restricted Building Work (RBW) regulations came into effect on March 1. Most residential building or renovations will have to be designed, undertaken or supervised by a licensed building practitioner (LBP).
It is now an offence to knowingly hire an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise RBW and a fine of up to $20,000 could be imposed.
Good news, however, is that the Government is considering an exemption from the rules for DIY homeowner builders.
Under the new rules, DIYers working on their own house can do so. But if they are unlicensed they must have their work supervised by a LBP. For example, if a DIYer is doing RBW to the roof of the house, the LBP supervising the work must have a roofing licence.
A Bill to amend the Building Act 2004 to exempt DIYers is expected to have a second reading later this year. Until then, all RBW can only be done by or under the supervision of an LBP, until and if the exemption is passed.
Designed to improve the quality of building, the “build it right” changes apply to work affecting the structural integrity or weather-tightness of residential buildings. New responsibilities are being placed on homeowners and members of the building industry.
Auckland Council has welcomed the Government’s changes. Ian McCormick, the council’s building control manager says the new rules will help give homeowners more confidence their crucial building work is being carried out to a good standard, with increased accountability and ongoing professional development of the building industry.
“The new rules also officially recognise the qualifications, skills and knowledge of licensed building practitioners,” he says.
The Licensed Building Practitioner Scheme, established under the Building Act, sets out a regulated process where skilled and/or qualified building practitioners are required to demonstrate their ability to meet industry competencies.
LBPs include designers, carpenters, roofers, external plasterers, brick and block layers and foundation specialists. Professional engineers, architects, plumbers and gasfitters are treated as LBPs and can carry out some restricted building work.
Under the new rules, a building design must be done by a licensed designer, registered architect or a chartered professional engineer.
A designer must identify all the RBW when they fill in their memorandum (certificate of design) while they are drawing up building plans.
If the job does not include work to the primary structure or its weather tightness, it is not likely to be RBW.
Building work that requires a consent from the council but does not necessarily contain RBW includes fitting new sanitary fixtures such as a new kitchen or en suite, installing a wood burner, domestic wind turbine, domestic swimming pool, installing a cable car to a house, installing other systems in small/medium apartments such as smoke alarms, lift, HVAC systems, insulation to external walls.
Homeowners are advised to get a written contract with anyone working on their house.
Contracts should include information such as price, payment schedule, start and completion dates, materials and products used, who pays for any council fees, that the work will be Building Code and RBW compliant, warranties and a dispute resolution process.
All residential work is automatically covered by the implied warranties set out in the Building Act. But building contractors may offer their own guarantee in which case the homeowner should be sure of what they are getting. They are advised to check the limitations and exclusions and the guarantee against the implied warranties in the Act to ensure they at least match.
Anyone can make a complaint to the Building Practitioners Board if an LBP has been convicted of a serious offence that reflects on their fitness to be an LBP, has done work negligently or incompetently, has done RBW they are not licensed to do, carried out or supervised work that does not comply with a building consent, held themselves out to be licensed in an area they are not, has not provided the memorandums necessary for RBW or has obtained their licence dishonestly.
The board is unable to award compensation or reparation to a person who complains. But it can cancel an LBP’s licence, suspend it for up to 12 months, restrict the type of work that the LPB can do or supervise, order that an LBP be formally reprimanded or to do training or impose a fine up to $10,000.
• If a homeowner’s building consent application has been lodged with the council before March 1, the new rules do not apply. After this date the building consent application will need to comply with RBW requirements, regardless of when the plans were drawn.