Choosing the right people for your type of building work

Last updated: 17 April 2024

Choosing the right people

Make sure your building professionals are right for your project and can confidently meet Building Code requirements.

Before you start your building project

The rules about building change for different types of buildings, what they’re used for and how they’re built. You will need to hire people with suitable skills and experience for your job. You must use licensed people for some residential building and design work.

Most plumbing, electrical and gasfitting work must be undertaken by licensed or certified people.

Think about whether your project:

  • is simple, average or complex
  • needs a building consent
  • needs a licensed tradesperson (recommended)
  • is a renovation or new build
  • has more than one ‘use’ (such as a shop, with an apartment attached).

A complex project could mean one with innovative design, techniques or products. It can also refer to a difficult site or renovation. Renovations often pose more challenges than new builds.

It makes sense to use practitioners with suitable experience and skills. They key things are to:

  • ask for references
  • get more than one quote
  • get a contract (or at least an agreement in writing).

Use licensed people for restricted building work has more information on why you need an LBP.

Meet with your tradies to discuss the details of the brief. Ideally, have a document everyone can refer to throughout the project, and update it when things change.

Make sure everyone has a clear understanding of:

  • the required level of quality and finish
  • who's responsible for what
  • contract terms.

Be as detailed as you can be from the start, eg specify where lights and power points should go, list all the different appliances and confirm with your main contractor who needs to do what for each thing. Try to confirm as much as you can before work starts, and make sure that anything that is important to you or that involves a lot of money is put in writing.

Work on a home

It's important that your home is safe, healthy, and built to last. Having the right people on the job is critical to the warmth, safety and insurability of your home – your biggest asset.

Professional designers and builders are needed for work that's more complicated.

By law, all Restricted Building Work must be done or supervised by an LBP. 'Restricted building work' is work that's critical to make a home structurally sound and weathertight. You must use Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) to design and carry out this work. Generally, you'll need an LBP for the bigger or more complicated jobs, usually the ones that need a building consent from your council. It also covers fire safety design in smaller apartment buildings.

LBPs are designers, builders, roofers, external plasterers, brick and blocklayers, foundation and site workers. LBPs are licensed and their skills and knowledge are regularly assessed for competency.

Restricted building work has more  information

Work on other buildings

Commercial and other buildings are likely to need the services of design professionals, or engineers where a building consent is required. The plans and specifications in the building consent need to demonstrate how the proposed work meets the requirements of the Building Code.

You can choose to use builders or tradespeople who are LBPs whether or not one is required for your building work.

If you are planning work to an existing building with a specified system (certain safety and essential systems), the compliance schedule may need to be amended.

Amendments to compliance schedules has more information.

Finding the right person

Check your tradesperson is licensed for the work you're hiring them to do.

If they aren't:

  • you might not be insured for damage caused by poor workmanship
  • you may not be able to get the certificates you'll need for council sign-off if the work required consent
  • you may have problems when it's time to sell your home
  • the work might be unsafe.

Use licensed people for restricted building work has information on:

  • why you need licensed people
  • restricted building work
  • DIY and exempt work

Choosing a building practitioner has information about:

  • finding an LBP and checking the register
  • using a housing company or other builder
  • getting quotes
  • requirements for contracts – particularly for work over $30,000 or more (including GST).

Choosing a designer or architect explains:

  • different options and qualifications of designers
  • tips for keeping on budget
  • what you can expect from your designer
  • why contracts are valuable.

Hiring subcontractors shows what to look for when agreeing terms with a main contractor and what to expect if you nominate subcontractors.

Tenders and quotes gives information on:

  • the difference between an estimate and a quote
  • payment terms
  • comparing quotes – materials and fixtures.

Searching for a licensed tradesperson

Licensed tradespeople are generally listed on public registers.

To find a licensed tradesperson, start looking by searching the following registers:

DIY (do-it-yourself)

You can still choose DIY (do-it-yourself) as long as you meet requirements and apply for the right consents and permissions.

Use the following resources to check whether a building consent is required if you’re planning on carrying out building work.

Owner-builder obligations

Building work that does not require a building consent

"Do you need a building consent" tool for homeowners -

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: