Smith cautious about building deregulation

  • 23/09/2015
Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith (Getty)
Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith (Getty)

The Government is going to tread carefully as it considers a suggestion that builders could be allowed to certify their own work.

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith says there's no way he's going to risk the sort of deregulation that led to the leaky homes crisis of the 1990s.

The suggestion is one of the "top 10 fixes" in a report released yesterday, commissioned a year ago by Local Government Minister Paula Bennett.

She asked the Rules Reduction Taskforce to identify "loopy rules" that hold up progress and could be scrapped.

The taskforce concluded the Building Act, Resource Management Act and Health and Safety in Employment Act were all sources of annoying rules.

It says building consents should be easier to get, and progressive consents could be used so work can begin sooner.

"Work towards builders certifying their own work so as to deal with liability pressures on councils" is one of the suggested fixes.

Mr Smith says the taskforce has recommended important changes and he hopes to have specific proposals worked out by December.

"I think there is some work for which it is appropriate for builders to sign off their own work, in the same way electricians sign off theirs," he said.

"It's about getting the balance right, and we need to do it with care for the very reason that rash deregulation can result in the sort of problems around leaky homes that cost New Zealand home owners billions of dollars."

Thousands of shoddy houses were built between 1994 and 2004 and weren't properly inspected.

New cases have been reported as recently as May this year.

Labour's housing spokesman, Phil Twyford, says setting up the taskforce was a publicity stunt and the suggestion builders could sign off their own work is "the most loopy of all".