Licensing and restricted building work

renovationsThe new Restricted Building Work regime applies when renovating or building residential houses and small to medium apartment buildings.

Restricted building work is work to the structure or external moisture management system of these structures – work that is critical to the integrity of the building. Most residential building work that needs building consent will be restricted building work. There is a new definition of a “small to medium apartment building”. These are buildings that contain 2 or more households, are exclusively residential and less than 10 metres in height – so a row of terraced houses for example, but not a 4 storey apartment complex with 16 units. There will be some interesting distinctions here for bodies corporate especially.

If you are applying for a building consent from 1 March 2012 your building design will need to be done by a licensed designer (or a registered architect or a chartered professional engineer) if it includes restricted building work. Restricted building work will then need to be carried out and supervised by practitioners licensed to do so e.g. carpenters, roofers, external plasterers, brick and block layers and foundation specialists.

There is a transitional period. If an application for building consent is lodged pre 1 March 2012 then the work that follows is not restricted building work.

Home owners are going to be responsible for ensuring council know who the licensed building practitioners are on their project. When you apply for a building consent the names of all the trade licensed building practitioners involved will need to be given. The home owner is also responsible for notifying council as soon as practicable if any of them leave the project and are replaced or if any new licensed building practitioners join the project.

The home owner will also be responsible for managing the new paperwork – ensuring they get a Memorandum (Certificate of Design Work) from the designers to lodge with the building consent application and a Memorandum (Record of Building Work) from the licensed tradespeople to lodge with the application for code compliance. Building contracts will need to ensure that these new requirements are addressed.

It will be an offence for a home owner to knowingly engage an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise restricted building works. This carries a fine of up to $20,000. Designers and tradespeople can also be fined up to $20,000 if they carry out restricted building work without being licensed.

The aim is to assess and record building practitioners who have the skills and knowledge to do the work and to ensure that people appropriately qualified are carrying out or supervising the critical building work. It is part of the raft of changes to improve the quality of design and building.

A register of licensed practitioners has been created and may be searched (see A building practitioner’s board is also established. They have power to hear complaints and take disciplinary action. Action taken on disciplinary matters in the past 3 years will appear on the register.

Building Amendment Bill (No.4) is not yet operative. This will take things further requiring mandatory written contracts for building work valued above $20,000. This bill was introduced to parliament on 6 September 2011. We can expect to see it progress through the year.

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