“Some building work needs licensed people on the job - make sure you have the right builder for the work you’re doing,” is the advice of Paul Hobbs, Registrar, Building Practitioner Licensing for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

“Spring marks the start of the busiest time of year for building practitioners,” Paul says. “Some consumers may feel pressured to choose the first builder who says they can do the job, or the one with the cheapest quote. Building well can be very rewarding, but it’s often a different story if things don’t go to plan.”

Only licensed building practitioners (LBPs) can do or supervise restricted building work. This type of work tends to be on larger jobs that need a building consent and affect the structure or weathertightness of a home.

“These days, there are more consumer protections in place for homeowners,” Paul says, “so if you follow the rules when you build or renovate, you’re more protected if things go wrong.”

As an example, when you employ LBPs you’re hiring people who’ve been assessed, can be held more accountable for their work, and who have to keep their knowledge up to date to be relicensed.

Nationally, there are 19,755 LBPs with a carpenter’s licence – what most people think of as a “builder”. There are also about 10,282 LBPs with licences in design and other trades including roofing, external plastering and brick and blocklaying.

Paul’s top tips for hiring a builder or tradesperson are:

  • check they’re licensed as an LBP if they’re doing restricted building work
  • ask for references
  • get several quotes
  • get a contract, or at least an agreement in writing for smaller jobs.

A quick check of the government LBP register will tell you if someone’s licensed, or you can ask to see their LBP photo ID card. You can also find out more about choosing a building practitioner, and read about your rights and obligations here on the Building Performance website(external link).

“Money and availability are always going to be key factors in choosing a building practitioner,” says Paul, “but they’re not the only things you should consider. What seems like a good idea or a quick fix at the outset could cost more in the long run. It pays to get the right people for the job.”