Consumer protection measures

The consumer protection measures encourage a professional, no-surprises relationship between you (the contractor) and your homeowner clients. The measures should also help homeowners make better-informed decisions about building work.
Key consumer protection measures related to residential building work: 

1. You must provide a written contract for residential building work costing $30,000 or more (including GST) whenever you are contracting directly with the client (not subcontracting). We recommend you have a contract even if the work will cost less, so everyone has an understanding of obligations, requirements and expectations.

2. Before the contract is signed, if the building work is likely to cost $30,000 or more (including GST) or if the client requests it, you must provide:

  • the standard checklist
  • a disclosure statement including information about your skills, qualifications, licensing status and any insurance or guarantees you provide.

3. Once the building work has been completed, and regardless of the size of the job, you must provide certain information or documents related to the building work. These include ongoing maintenance requirements, guarantees or warranties and any ongoing insurance policies.

4. You must fix any defects you’ve been told about in writing within 12 months of the work being completed.

5. The homeowner can take action, for up to 10 years, when warranties in the Building Act have not been met.

6. You can be fined if you don’t comply with the law.

Who is considered a contractor?

A contractor is any person or business contracted directly by the client to do residential building work, whether they are doing all or part of this work. 

‘Building work’ covers many different trades and is any work for, or related to, the construction, alteration, demolition or removal of a residential building. Note that ‘buildings’ include structures that are not occupied by people, such as fences and retaining walls.

Remember, all building work must comply with the Building Code, even if the building work does not require a building consent.

Changes to the Building Act and supporting regulations

The consumer protection measures are included in Part 4A of the Building Act 2004, which came into force on 1 January 2015.

Other changes came into effect in November 2013, including an updated list of work on homes and outbuildings that do not require a building consent (in Schedule 1 of the Building Act). More low-risk work has been exempted, but there are limits on who can do some potentially higher-risk work. For example, certain plumbing and drainlaying work can be done without a consent but only by authorised people (as defined in the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006).

Planning a successful build has guidance on building work that does not require a building consent.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: