Step 4: Rebuilding it right

Sort out what you and others need to do to help the project run smoothly and what to do if things don't go to plan.

  1. Decide how you want to manage the project.
  2. Insist on written contracts.
  3. Avoid problems by being well-informed.

Managing rebuilds and repairs:

You are responsible for managing all repairs to earthquake damage relating to the property. You can choose to:

  • Manage the project including contracting the designer and building contractor and sub-contractors. This can be stressful and time consuming, but you will have control over the project.
  • Contract a building professional – an architect/designer, builder or independent project manager – to manage the project on your behalf. This is less time consuming, but you are still responsible for making sure the work complies with laws and regulations.
  • Whatever you choose to do, make sure you understand the building process and your obligations.

Top tips for a successful build - Use these tips to help your building project run well and ensure you meet your legal obligations.

Written contracts

Whichever approach you take, insist on a written contract. A written contract protects your interests and sets out your rights and obligations. If the rebuild or repair of your home will cost $30,000 or more (including GST) you must have a contract with your builder contractor.

A written contract should:

  • confirm the price of the building work
  • set out the roles of each contractor
  • confirm any subcontractors
  • set start and finish dates for your work
  • plan the payment schedule
  • define an acceptable quality of work
  • detail the materials and products used for your build
  • confirm who pays for any council fees
  • outline what to do if there are defects
  • detail simple procedures for any disputes
  • state any ongoing maintenance work.

Each person you have a residential building contract with must give you a disclosure statement if the work will cost $30,000 or more (Including GST) or if you ask for one. This provides you with information about their:

  • business and trading details
  • skills and qualifications
  • licensing status (what restricted building work they can do)
  • insurance or guarantees they provide.

They must also give you a consumer protection checklist that includes information about managing building projects, hiring contractors and ways to protect yourself before the contract is signed. This is required by the Building Act.

Remember: A contract is enforceable when you and the contractor have signed and dated it

Initial every page and keep a copy. Make sure you get any changes to the contract or the building work in writing.

Why contracts are valuable has further information about contracts. 

Keep good records

Keep good records on site, somewhere safe and accessible to everyone (plans and specifications, building consent, record of work and energy work certificates). You could also keep a brief build diary to note key dates and deliveries.

Understand your obligations under the health and safety legislation and have a health and safety plan in place before construction begins.

Check out page 10 of A principals guide to contracting to meet the health and safety in employment act 1992 on the WorkSafe website.

Dealing with defects

Under the Building Act there is a defect repair period of up to 12 months from the date the building work is complete.

How to identify defects has more information about acceptable levels of workmanship.

If you have a dispute with your contractor or the contractor does not finish the job, start by checking the terms of your contract and discussing matters with your contractor. The next step is to follow the dispute resolution process in the contract. If you do not have a contract, or if your contract does not have a clause that applies, default clauses within the Building Act might apply.

Contracts has more information about default clauses. 

Other resolution options include:

  • complaining to the Building Practitioners Board, if your contractor is an LBP
  • complaining to your contractor’s trade or professional association
  • seeking mediation or taking a dispute to the Disputes Tribunal if your claim is for up to $15,000.

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: