Many builders will have kept track of the law reforms that have taken place in the building sector over the past 15 years,
through attending local meetings or workshops, attending conferences, reading industry magazines, or (if you are licensed) earning CPD points in some other way. So you may know that there are two major reforms that are still in the pipeline...
On 1 January 2015, assuming the Government stays true to its word, new laws are going to come into force that are going to have a bigger impact on your business than licensing did.
I say “bigger” because licensing created a lot of extra paperwork for you, but it did not actually increase your liability, other than by exposing you to the risk of being disciplined by the Building Practitioners Board. These new laws, which are part of the Building Amendment Act 2013, not only increase your liability but they also increase your paperwork substantially, and for many of you they completely alter the terms on which you contract with your clients.
For many years now, Madison Hardy has been providing legal advice to builders.
These days, hardly a week goes by when we do not receive a call from a builder who is at an emotional breaking-point over a dispute that has arisen with his client, and who tells us that in 20 (30, 40) years of building, he has never encountered as difficult a situation as the one he has contacted us about.
The past 20 years has seen a lot of change in the building industry.
It started with the 1991 Building Act, and the “market forces” approach of the then Government. This no doubt led to greater innovation, efficiency and competitiveness, but it also resulted in a decline in industry training and a relaxation of standards (eg. untreated framing timber and Mediterranean-style stucco houses).
No-one likes being bullied, so we all like to hear stories of the little guy taking on the big guy, and beating him.
But in the cold light of reality, that doesn’t happen very often. Size usually does matter.
As adults, we encounter bullying in the business world in two situations. First, where a small business is being forced to accept the rules laid down by a much larger supplier or customer. Second, where an individual has received poor quality products or services from a supplier, and “can’t get no satisfaction” to quote Mick Jagger. What can we do about it?
Anyone from the baby boomer generation like me will know that ethics and morality aren’t what they used to be.
My parents’ generation were by and large honest, considerate, respectful, polite, and law-abiding – and some would say too homogenous as a result.
The reputation of New Zealand’s residential building industry has clearly taken a hit since the 1980’s.
This has been graphically illustrated, of course, by the leaky building crisis that first came to prominence in 2001. The reasons have been debated at length.
The Building Act 2004 is the culmination of a reform process that began in 2002 as a result of the leaky homes crisis.
It is a companion to two other statutes that were introduced to cater for more urgent needs – the Construction Contracts Act 2002 which applies to construction disputes, and the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2002 which applies to leaky homes disputes.
Lawyers aren’t the only profession or trade currently undergoing a major shake-up.
The Building Bill, introduced shortly after the Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill, will significantly tighten up the rules relating to the building trade. It will replace the Building Act 1991 with a more heavy-handed regime that is intended to cure the deficiencies that were highlighted during the leaky buildings crisis. Although the Bill retains the same basic structure – a building code specifying minimum performance standards for buildings, and monitoring by Councils and other approved experts –greater controls will be imposed to lessen the risk of building failure.
After an intensive period of Government enquiries and consultation, the Building Bill was tabled in Parliament on 28 August.
It is 386 clauses and over 200 pages long. The Bill will replace the Building Act 1991 with a more heavy-handed regime that is intended to cure the deficiencies that were highlighted during the leaky buildings crisis.