13 Feb 2010

Licensing system aims to weed out 'cowboy' builders

3:40 pm on 13 February 2010

The Government says a new licensing regime for builders will weed out cowboys, such as those responsible for leaky buildings.

At present, only about one in three people calling themselves builders have any form of trade qualification.

From March 2012, it will be illegal to work as a builder without a licence. This provision also applies to bricklayers, roofers and plasterers.

By 2015, tradespeople will not be able to get a licence without qualifications.

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says builders must be held accountable when homes are not fit to live in.

Mr Williamson says lack of regulation is to blame for the leaky building problems of the past few decades.

The minister says those without recognised qualifications can still become licensed under the existing process, which involves more practical assessment.

The Certified Builders Association and the Registered Master Builders Federation say the changes will weed out "cowboy" builders.

However, Auckland engineer John Scarry, who has lobbied successive governments about what he calls sub-standard practices in the industry, says the new regulatory system is superficial and not tough enough.

Mr Scarry says architects and engineers have been licensed for years, but that has not stopped sloppy practices and defective buildings being signed off. He believes more emphasis is needed on practical training, guidelines and enforcement.

The president of the Home Owners and Buyers Association, John Gray, says he would prefer a higher bar for licensing. However, he believes it is more important to have a greater number of tradespeople come under regulation.