Sorting out the pros from the cons

by Andy Bryenton

In March 2012, the rules around building changed for the better, in a move heralded by the Government of the day as a step forward in regulating the industry.

A huge part of this law change was the implementation of a definition for ‘restricted building work’ — any work which affects the structural integrity and weathertightness of a building. Four years on, the repercussions are still being felt. 

The more obvious implication of this law was clearly apparent — that after March 1 2012, it would be an offence to undertake such work as a builder, roofer, architect (or a number of other registered trades) without the correct certification. Builders who are allowed to undertake such work gained (at minimum) the title of Licensed Building Practitioner, an insignia, which is now visible on the signs and company vehicles of many local professionals. Others were, and are, members of specific professional organisations particular to their own trade.

A lesser-known part of the law is even more pertinent to those who are considering using cheap, unlicensed labour to undertake restricted work. This clause states that it is also an offence to knowingly engage an unlicensed person to undertake restricted work — meaning that the customer as well as the unlicensed tradesperson is liable under the law. Fines are steep and remedial work by a qualified tradesperson — might be necessary.

It’s a sobering thought considering what is already at stake, but the simple answer is to always check the credentials of any person who you want to do work on your home or business. This is true for numerous other trades, which may come under the umbrella of general building — it would be a foolish supervising builder indeed (even if they themselves are correctly accredited) who hired unregistered electricians, plumbers, drainlayers and the like to work on a project. Insurance companies and real estate agents also keep a close watch on the legality of work undertaken on your home, for obvious reasons.

No matter whether the job is big or small, always ensure that the people who you have entrusted with your biggest investment are correctly qualified and licensed — most trades carry cards to show that they are of the highest standard, and certain groups such as the New Zealand Certified Builders Association, enforce a strict code of training, qualification and ethical practice for your peace of mind.