Once building work finishes

It’s important that you know what information and documentation you need to give the homeowner once building work finishes. You also need to be aware of the 12-month defect repair period as this could affect you.

Information you must give the homeowner

You must give clients the following information/documents once the building work is completed, regardless of the price of the work (effective from 1 January 2015):

  • A copy of any current insurance policy you hold for the building work completed under the contract. This does not include policies that expire before the work is completed. 
  • A copy of any guarantees or warranties for materials or services used in the building work, including:
    • information about how to make a claim
    • if the guarantee or warranty is transferable
    • and if it must be signed and returned to the issuer.
  • Information about the processes and materials to be used to maintain the building work. This is particularly important if maintenance is required to meet the requirements of the Building Code or could affect any guarantee or warranty.

Do your homework

  • Make copies of any insurance policy certificates you have for the building work you carried out, and any guarantees or warranties for the materials or services you used. Give these to your client at the end of the job.
  • Source information on product maintenance from the manufacturer or supplier, and then give a copy to the homeowner. You might find this information online (for example, BRANZ maintenance schedule) or through the product supplier.
  • This is an additional requirement, over and above any maintenance information supporting a consent application.
  • It’s okay to provide information on maintenance and insurances as you go, but it’s easier to save this up and hand it over in a tidy packet when the project is finished. That way, you also know exactly what you’ve provided.
  • Neglecting to provide this information could mean a fine of $500.

12-month defect repair period

There is a defect repair period of 12 months from the date the building work is complete (effective from 1 January 2015).

If your client tells you about any defective work before the 12 months are up, you must put it right within a reasonable timeframe from receiving written notification. It is your responsibility to prove that any defects are through no fault of your own (or the subcontractors or products you’ve used) if there is a dispute.

How the process works

If you are the main contractor or you have been contracted directly by the homeowner, they must notify you in writing of any problems. It’s then up to you to arrange and manage the repairs, including any issues with subcontractors. If you’re a subcontractor, the homeowner must advise the main contractor, not you, of any problems.

When does the clock start?

The completion date is when all the physical building work agreed to by you and the homeowner has been finished.

The 12-month defect repair period applies to all residential building work, regardless of the price.

Once the defect repair period ends 

Implied warranties in the Building Act apply for up to 10 years, so you will still be required to remedy defective work after the defect repair period ends. If you do not agree the work or product is defective and the 12-month repair period has lapsed, the homeowner must prove there is a defect before you are required to have it fixed (ie it becomes their responsibility to prove that there is a problem).

Your responsibilities

  • You are required by law to fix any defective building work.
  • It’s a good idea to do a walk through with your client after each milestone to show them progress and to check the quality of the work. It will be much easier (and more time and cost effective) to repair any defective work or products as you go. If you wait until the end of the project, you may have to leave work on other projects to come back and fix something.
  • Remember that when clients visit you on site, your obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 apply. This means taking care to ensure that visitors aren’t harmed by any hazards in the workplace that you control.
  • If you are the main contractor, you will need to organise the repair of anything faulty for the homeowner. You are responsible for the work done by your subcontractors, so make sure you keep an eye on the quality of their work.
  • If a product is defective, it has to be remedied. It is your responsibility to arrange a replacement for any product you supplied.

How to identify defects has more guidance on acceptable levels of workmanship and tolerances.

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: