27 Aug 2009

Onus on builders to take more responsibility for work

11:12 pm on 27 August 2009

The Government wants builders rather than councils to take more responsibility for ensuring that homes are properly built.

From March 2012, only licensed builders will be allowed to carry out or oversee critical structural work such as foundations and other jobs which make a building weathertight.

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says such licensed builders will then be able to self-certify their work, reducing council inspections and red tape.

Mr Williamson is estimating the new system will reduce costs by up to $10,000 for a simple standard house.

Do-it-yourself builders will be able to apply for an exemption from the restricted building work, but will become legally liable for the work they carry out.

Registered Master Builders Federation president Brent Mettrick says it is appropriate that licensed builders are more accountable.

Mr Williamson says a wider review of the Building Act will also look at whether there should be home warranty schemes to ensure that homeowners are covered if their new houses develop problems.

The president of the Homeowners and Buyers Association, John Gray, told Checkpoint that warranty will be crucial.

"It's all very well sharing the liability. But unfortunately, if one of the practitioners or parties to the construction of a particular dwelling gets it wrong, and then the owner suffers loss and that party is no longer in existence, there needs to be ... some sort of insurance warranty programme."