2019 IN REVIEW – REGULATORY CHANGES
2019 was a year of changes for the building and construction sector, largely led by the Government. On the basis of new partnerships with industry, the Government has sought its views and instigated a number of new initiatives as a result. We take a bird’s eye view of some of the changes over the year…
APRIL – The Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE) releases the Building System Legislative Reform Programme, which proposes major changes to New Zealand’s building laws, for public consultation. The proposed changes affect five areas: building products and methods, risk and liability, occupational regulation, the building levy, and offences, penalties and public notification.
JUNE – Regular six-monthly updates to the Building Code are introduced. These are to assist MBIE in being more responsive to industry and reduce the number and scale for any changes required. They also provide the flexibility to enable timely, incremental changes to be made, while also allowing more complex changes to be rolled over into the next update cycle if required.
JUNE – Consultation closes on MBIE’s Building System Legislative Reform Programme. The resulting recommended changes to the Building Act are intended to be presented to Parliament mid-2020, with the aim of having the first changes come into effect shortly after, with other changes to follow through 2020 and 2021.
JULY – Over 120 building standards used for Building Code compliance made are available for free download following a collaboration between MBIE and Standards New Zealand.
JULY – Changes to the Building Act were announced, making it easier to undertake modest building work on earthquake-prone buildings, without needing to do seismic strengthening at the same time.
AUGUST – Vocational Education Reform Bill introduced to Parliament – includes re-design of how apprenticeships will work.
OCTOBER – Government procurement rules updated to replace focus on ‘lowest price’ to a ‘broader outcome model’ and require government departments to consider factors including: skills development and training undertaken by construction companies and their subcontractors, whether there is strong governance over the project, and sustainable building practices such as using sustainable materials and minimising waste.
OCTOBER – The first Building System Legislative Reform Programme decisions are announced: streamlining consents for prefabrication and off-site manufacturing, requiring better information and clear responsibilities for building product manufacturers and suppliers, strengthening the framework for product certification, reducing the building levy, and updating Building Act offences and penalties.
DECEMBER – Building Amendment Act – a new system for managing buildings after an emergency is introduced, which gives clear legislative powers for investigating building failures.
DECEMBER – The Accord Transformation Plan, which builds on the momentum of the Construction Sector Accord, is launched. It will set out initiatives that will be implemented in the short, medium and longer term to drive the right behaviours and practices among all players in the sector. The Accord has generated strong interest, with nearly 500 people and businesses signing up on
the Accord website to get involved in sector transformation.
OTHER CHANGES UNDER WAY:
- Progress on additional exemptions under Schedule 1 is under way, meaning that this year there will be even more work that can be done without a building consent.
- A review of the industry’s response to the retention money provisions introduced in 2017 to protect sub-contractors was completed. The review looked at factors such as awareness of the regime, extent of compliance, signs of behaviour change in the sector, and the impact the legislation is having on firms. The Minister for Building and Construction will be releasing the report publicly in the near future.
- A significant new piece of work is under way to consider how the built environment can contribute to Government’s climate change goals.