11 Jul 2014

Building Act changes welcomed

6:00 am on 11 July 2014

The building industry is welcoming changes to the Building Act designed to protect consumer rights.

From the beginning of next year, builders doing any residential work worth more than $30,000 will be required to have written contracts with their clients.

They will also need to provide information on their skills, experience and qualifications and disclose what insurance and warranty cover they have.

Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith said the protections were about replacing the "she'll be right" attitude with a "doing it right" culture.

The goal was to make the building industry efficient and deliver affordable, high-quality homes, Dr Smith said.

Master Builders Association chief executive Warwick Quinn said the measures were about protecting a builder's clients.

"It's amazing the number of people who will build a $400,000 or $500,000 house on a handshake," he said.

"We always believe there should be a written contract, no matter how big the job is."

Nelson builder Richard Merrifield said the new measures would also benefit builders.

"It gives certainty to both parties because the contracts I'm familiar with have dispute resolutions in them. The performance expectations of monetary payments by the client so both parties are being protected in this setup," he said.

Home owners would also be better informed on who their builder was, Mr Merrifield said.

Home Owners and Buyers Association president John Gray said the measures were a step in the right direction - but he did not believe there should be a minimum amount set for written contracts.

"There's no clear direction as to why they've settled on a $30,000 minimum amount."

No consumer should be exposed in any way when contracting builders to work for them, he said.

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Photo: RNZ