Know your rights
Builders, designers, carpenters, roofers, external plasterers, bricklayers and blocklayers, site and foundations (called building practitioners) are all licensed under the Licensed Building Practitioner’s scheme (LBP scheme).
You can now check an electronic register online to see if your building practitioner is licensed.
You now need to hire a licensed building practitioner (LBP) to carry out or supervise restricted building work (RBW) on a house or an apartment in a small apartment block. Ask to see their LBP card with a photo ID and to use the details to check the LBP public register (external link) .
Restricted building work includes:
- anything that influences the structural integrity (including walls, framing, foundations, floors and roofs)
- weathertightness (anything outside of the building which prevents moisture entering your home)
- fire safety system design (for attached houses or small apartment buildings).
This RBW scheme protects you and ensures that building work is done by competent tradespeople who can be held accountable if anything goes wrong.
There are different classes of licence for different types of building work such as design, site, carpentry, roofing, external plastering, brick and blocklaying and foundations. Each LBP is restricted to working within the work covered by their licence class, and they may be licenced in more than one class. Their LBP licence card will also state what type of building work that LBP may do.
Registered architects, plumbers and chartered professional engineers are also treated as being licensed to do or supervise certain elements of RBW.
See Choosing the right people for your type of building work (external link) on the Building Performance website for more information.
Disclosure and checklist requirements
You must have a written contract for residential building work costing $30,000 or more (including GST).
If the work is $30,000 or more (including GST), of if you ask for it, your contractor must give you:
- a disclosure statement that includes key information including their name, contact details, insurance cover, and any guarantees they provide and for how long
- a standard checklist with information about their contract terms, and how they will manage hiring contractors, and manage your building project.
A building contractor is a person or company you have asked to do your residential building work. They might be an architect, builder, plumber, electrician or any other tradesperson you are dealing with directly. If your contractor hires other workers to help complete your building work, they do not need to provide a disclosure statement (for example subcontractors).
See Consumer protection – disclosure and checklist (external link) on the Building Performance website to find out more.
Documentation for restricted building work
For any design work that is RBW, a Certificate of Work (COW) must be submitted with the plans as part of a building consent application. This states how the design work complies with the Building Code.
For RBW, the LBP needs to give you a Record of Work (ROW) for the council when the consented building work has been completed.
You should also keep any energy work certificates from any electrical worker or gas fitter working on their property. You’ll need these certificates when you apply for council sign-off on completion of the work.
To find out more about what building work is restricted and what is not, see Restricted building work (external link) on the Building Performance website.
Warranties under the Building Act
The Consumer Guarantees Act doesn’t cover buildings or building materials. But it does apply to services provided by the building industry such as other trades, design work and inspection services.
You are also protected by a specific set of warranties for all building work done under residential building contracts entered into from 30 November 2004 which apply for up to 10 years. These warranties apply whether you write them in the contract or not. The contract can’t state that these warranties don’t apply.
These warranties apply to work done by subcontractors employed by the main contractor.
As well as these warranties, you have an automatic 12-month repair period from the date of completion. During this period, the building contractor will have to fix any defects that you give notice of.
If your building practitioner goes out of business, you are not protected but you may still have legal rights against the subcontractors.
Remedies for breach of implied warranties under the Building Act are similar to those under the Consumer Guarantees Act, depending on the seriousness of the breach. If the problem can be fixed, then you may require the building contractor to do so, including repairing or replacing defective materials.
See the Building Performance website to find out more about:
A building practitioner is excused from liability if the breach is caused by:
- events beyond human control
- accidental damage caused by others but not subcontractors or anyone that the builder is legally responsible for
- not carrying out normal maintenance
- not carrying out or arranging to have done repairs as soon as practicable after a defect becomes apparent.
Private building guarantees
The New Zealand Certified Builders Association and the Registered Master Builders Association provide private building guarantees which you pay for (although some independent companies also offer guarantees to cover their own work).
For payment disputes, you have access to a fast and cost effective disputes resolution scheme (adjudication) under the Construction Contracts Act (CCA). The scheme also provides a payment regime for residential construction contracts. Payments can be made in instalments (progress payments) or in one single payment. Each payment claim has to have a prescribed form with all the necessary information set out in the CCA.
From 1 September 2016, design, engineering and quantity surveying work will be included under the scope of the Act.
For more information about adjudication and the payments process, see Construction Contracts Amendment Act 2015 (external link) on the Building Performance website.
Misleading statements or behaviour
You have rights to protect you from misleading statements or behaviour related to products or services made by anyone in trade. You can claim for damages or other remedies under the Fair Trading Act for misleading conduct or claims made.
Read False and misleading advertising or trading to find out more.