Protection for homeowners

If you’re considering residential building work, you need to know about the consumer protection measures. These measures encourage a professional, no-surprises relationship between you and your contractor. They should also help you make informed decisions about building work.

Key measures protecting consumers doing home building work

1. You must have a written contract for residential building work costing $30,000 or more, including GST. 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 you sign a contract for work that will cost $30,000 or more, including GST (or if you ask for it), your contractor must give you:

  • information about his or her skills, qualifications, licensing status, and the insurance or guarantees they provide (it’s called a disclosure statement)
  • a checklist that outlines stages of the build and how to protect yourself.

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

4. You have an automatic 12-month defect repair period when contractors have to fix any defects you’ve told them about in writing.

5. You can take action for up to 10 years if warranties in the Building Act have not been met, even if they’re not in your contract (they’re called implied warranties).

6. Contractors can be fined if they don’t comply with the law.

We’ve written this quick guide to explain these measures and remind you of other important steps in the building process.

These measures relate to residential building work only.

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 affecting homeowners 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 was exempted, but there are limits on who can do some potentially higher-risk work and only authorised people (as defined in the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006) can do certain plumbing and drainlaying work without a building consent.

Follow the Building Code

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

Planning a successful build has guidance on 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: