17 Jun 2019

Auckland Mayor wants urgent changes to the Building Act

11:24 am on 17 June 2019

Auckland's mayor is calling for radical and urgent changes to the Building Act.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Phil Goff wants a compulsory insurance or warranty scheme to pay for problems with building work such as leaky homes.

Auckland ratepayers have had to pay $600 million for weather tightness problems because those who did the substandard work disappeared, Mr Goff says.

He also wants a mandatory product register to certify that building products were fit for purpose.

At the moment, each council has to separately examine and certify the same products. Mr Goff's recommendations are part of the Auckland Council's submission to the government on reforming the Building Act.

"The government has put out a discussion paper through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. And we think it's great that they are addressing the question of the Building Code and the Building Act. But these are two submissions, actually one from Auckland Council and one from the Mayoral Housing Task Force, which includes a lot of people from right across the private sector," Mr Goff said.

Reforming the Building Act needed to go further, he said.

"One of the things that we are looking at, of course, is the fact that when when shoddy workmanship happens too often the company has taken off somewhere else they've they're no longer registered as a company. And what happens is that local councils have to pick up the bill ... there needs to be a compulsory liability and insurance and warranty scheme."

The council wasn't trying to avoid having to conduct consents itself, Mr Goff said.

"We have a role in that. And we should have a proportionate liability when something goes wrong. But unless you put the the cost directly on those that are doing the work, you're not incentivising them to get their product and their workmanship...

"We want council to do consulting, what we want the central agency to do is have a national building product register. At the moment, you've got 59 councils which are called Building Consent Authorities that have to consent every new product that comes on. What we're saying is 'Why don't you do it once, do it centrally, do it to universal standards across the whole country, stop the duplication, stop the cost, and that would make a lot of sense'.

"So that's one of the things that we're also advocating to the government - having a building register that is central with an authority that actually has the research and capability to make sure that the products are fit for purpose."

The council wanted builders to be incentivised to get it right in the first place, he said.