Government to review building code

NZ has been criticised for the poor quality of our housing stock.
NZ has been criticised for the poor quality of our housing stock. Photo credit: Getty

The Government's promising to review the building code to bring it in line with other developed countries.

The OECD and the International Energy Agency have criticised New Zealand's lack of stringency, which they blame for the poor quality of our housing stock.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford says he'll be setting up a review in the next few months.

"We ask a lot of the building code. It should be a living document that is constantly updated to help homes be warm, dry and energy efficient," he says.

Mr Twyford says his Government's 100,000 KiwiBuild homes will constructed to a standard above the current code, to set an example.

"This is really a once in a generation opportunity to seriously improve the quality and standard of New Zealand housing."

The Green Building Council estimates that bringing the building code up to the standard of similar OECD countries will add around one to 1.5 percent to the construction costs of new builds.

However, chief executive Andrew Eagles says that extra cost can be offset by downsizing.

"If you were presented with a 220-square-metre new-build house and somebody said to you, 'could you do away with three square metres to get a house that is ventilated, warm, efficient and environmentally friendly?', most people I put that too say 'hell yeah'."

Mr Eagles says the previous National Government was short-sighted on the issue.

"I think in the past it's been seen as a burden rather than an opportunity."

Mr Twyford is promising that will change. He told Newshub it's about doing what is right, not what is easy.

"If we build warm, dry, homes then we're going to reduce health costs for both the individual and the Government, so it's about being smarter, investing at the beginning and getting the benefit of good design."

Mr Eagles says the Minister's comments are encouraging, but he is worried about that Mr Twyford's commitment to high quality KiwiBuild homes won't go far enough.

"He's actually being quite vague about that, he's saying that they will be good quality homes but I'd urge him to adopt the Homestar standard, created and used in the sector, which is 20 percent better than the current building code," says Mr Eagles.