Building and Construction Minister Clayton Cosgrove recently announced the rules for the licensing of building practitioners, a new regime aimed at raising building quality standards and ensuring people working in the sector are competent and accountable.
The announcement marks the completion of formal rules for the Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) scheme that starts being rolled out, initially on a voluntary basis, from November 1 this year.
Mr Cosgrove says licensing in the building sector will benefit all New Zealanders.
“Licensing will promote and recognise professional skills and behaviour in the building industry. The writing is now on the wall for the cowboy operators,” he says.
“The public will have increased confidence in the building sector, knowing that the LBPs either doing or supervising the work on homes and buildings will do a professional job. In time, this will translate to an overall raising of quality standards, as we rebuild a world-class construction sector in this country.”
Mr Cosgrove says the rules of the LBP scheme cover:
who should apply and how to go about doing that,
how each application will be assessed,
the minimum standards for staying licensed,
how and when a licence can be suspended,
the information that will be held on the Register of LBPs, and
how the annual contract with the Registrar will function.
Seven categories of licence take effect from this November on a voluntary basis:
Site 1, 2 and 3, and
Design 1, 2 and 3.
The levels of licence are linked to the complexity of the building work or the role being undertaken. People who can apply for these licenses include designers, builders, site supervisors, construction managers and carpenters.
Six more categories of licence will be added next year. These licenses will apply to external plasterers, roofers, bricklayers and blocklayers, and specialists in concrete structure, steel structure and building services.
The rules have been determined for the seven licences taking effect from November. Schedules to the rules detail minimum standards or competencies for each licence class, and describe the skills, knowledge and experience people will have to demonstrate in order to become licensed.
For example, in order to get a carpentry licence, carpenters will need to show skills ranging from planning and scheduling their work, through to demonstrating they can set out and construct floors, walls and roof frames, and install, finish and make weathertight exterior joinery.
Assessors will determine if applicants meet the required standard of competency by examining their documentation and through face to face interviews and other interactive methods.
Mr Cosgrove says having a formal qualification is not mandatory for obtaining a license, and skilled people with a good track record should not have any trouble meeting the criteria.
He says licensing means people in the building sector are going to have their expertise formally recognised, in many cases for the first time.
“Professions such as plumbers, electricians, architects and engineers, and those with trade certificates already have formal qualifications through their occupational groupings.
“But many others who are responsible for important aspects of building design and construction have not had the opportunity to have their skills formally recognised.
“Licensing means they can finally get the recognition they deserve.”
Mr Cosgrove says occupational licensing will help ensure people in the construction industry who are responsible for the work done are competent and accountable, so homes and buildings are designed and built right the first time.
“It is a credit to the construction industry working groups and everyone else involved that the rules have been completed, and we now have a robust framework that can work for a variety of different trades and disciplines,” Mr Cosgrove says.
He says he especially wants to thank the building sector for its involvement in developing the LBP scheme.
“The licensing scheme has come about with the strong support of the construction industry because it is totally committed to ensuring its reputation is enhanced, and the quality of New Zealand’s homes and buildings are improved.”
People without licenses will still be able to work in the construction industry, but from November 2010 some specific restricted work will need to be supervised or done by a licensed person.
Mr Cosgrove says he wants again to reassure home handymen or women that the Kiwi Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tradition would be protected under the licensing scheme, and they would still be able to do DIY work, including building a standard, straightforward house from scratch or adding on a room.
Options to ensure future house buyers know if a house was built by an LBP or a DIYer are being looked at.
A copy of the 49-page Licensed Building Practitioners Rules 2007 document can be viewed on the Department of Building and Housing web site at www.dbh.govt.nz.
Application packs will be available from October 1, 2007, for the Carpentry, Design 1, 2 and 3, and for Site 1, 2, and 3 licenses.
The processing of licences will begin on November 1, 2007.