Posted: 3 December 2019
It’s been a productive 2019 for the Building System Performance branch, with a record number of public consultations and a far-reaching legislative reform programme kicking off. Our key achievements include:
- Government and industry have developed a genuine partnership through the Construction Sector Accord launched in April to transform the sector through improved behaviours and culture. The Transformation Plan, expected to be announced shortly, outlines how the vision of a high-performing construction sector for a better New Zealand will be achieved.
- All six initiatives across government in the Construction Skills Action Plan are underway to address the skills shortage by getting more people into the construction workforce and growing skills.
- The first decisions on proposed building law reforms were announced by Government in October, following public consultation earlier this year. These changes will help lift building quality so things go right the first time. They’ll also support people to take responsibility for their role, and allow for people to be held accountable with higher penalties if things go wrong. The first Bill is currently being drafted, with the opportunity to engage during the Select Committee process next year. Further decisions will be made on other proposals early in 2020.
- One of the key changes in the law reforms is a new certification scheme for modern methods of construction, which will clarify the consenting process and reduce duplication of effort for both BCAs and manufacturers. By supporting increased use of prefabrication and offsite construction, the scheme will also help bring more affordable homes to the market.
- There’s a regular programme of twice yearly updates to the Building Code (every June and November). A more risk-based approach is helping to inform updates, and we’re hearing more from you to inform change.
- We expect final proposals on the safety of New Zealand’s large dams to go before Cabinet soon. Great consultation feedback helped shape this work.
- The Building Amendment Act comes into effect on 18 December 2019. This is a new system for managing buildings after an emergency, and provides clear legislative powers for investigating building failures.
- Progress on additional exemptions under Schedule 1 is underway, meaning that next year there will be even more work that can be done without a building consent. This will reduce the cost of consenting for minor and low-risk building work and will benefit all areas of New Zealand.
- In July, 120 New Zealand building standards were made free to access and have so far been downloaded 99,000 times. This supports our core work to help remove barriers to compliance.
- Also in July, changes were announced to make it easier for owners of earthquake-prone buildings in small towns to undertake modest building work, without having to do seismic strengthening at the same time. These changes come into effect before Christmas.
- A review of industry’s response to the retention money provisions introduced in 2017 to protect sub-contractors was completed. The review looked at factors such as awareness of the regime, extent of compliance, signs of behaviour change in the sector, and the impact the legislation is having on firms. The Minister for Building and Construction will be releasing the report publicly in the near future.
- A significant new piece of work is underway to consider how the built environment can contribute to Government's climate change goals.
Keep an eye out for updates on the above projects that are still in progress, as we gear up for an equally busy and fast-paced new year.