Homeowners too casual about hiring builders without a written contract

New Zealand homeowners are too laid back when it comes to written contracts for building work and assume being licensed means builders have a higher standard of training, skills and experience than is currently required under the Licensed Building Practitioner scheme.

These are some of the results of a survey of 1000 Kiwis carried out by the New Zealand Certified Builders Association (NZCB).

Its survey found that more than half (51per cent) of homeowners who had used a builder in the last 10  years didn’t have a written contract for work done by their last builder. Of the work done without a written contract, 22 per cent  was for work worth more than  $30,000.

NZCB’s CEO  Grant Florence says  the survey highlighted the importance of consumer protection measures, such as the change last year to make written contracts mandatory for building work over $30,000.

However, in a press release issued by the organisatoin,  he cautioned that there’s still work to do to raise awareness within the industry and among consumers about the  mandatory requirement for contracts and the importance of written contracts for any  work.

He says: “The survey found that that 46 per cent of homeowners think it’s the builder’s responsibility if something goes wrong with a build or renovation. The reality is if there’s no written contract in place, this makes it difficult to resolve any issues. Having a contract is important for spelling out duties and obligations in relation to building projects.”

The organisation   provides template contracts for its member builders to use, and has introduced a mandatory building guarantee, which applies to every new home build or home building alteration over $30,000 that is undertaken by a NZCB member.

The survey also found that 90 per cent  of homeowners thought that having a formal building trade qualification was a requirement   for a builder to be a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP).

“Trade qualification isn’t currently a requirement under the LBP scheme, and in terms of professional development, while the LBP Skills Maintenance Scheme has recently been strengthened, in our view it doesn’t go far enough,” says  Florence.

He says that all builders are required to do is read LBP News (part of MBIE’s Codewords newsletter), identify two examples of on-the-job learning over the two-year licensing cycle and undertake some elective activities to earn points, to maintain their licence.

“Like the homeowners who responded to our survey, we’ve always thought the LBP scheme should require trade qualification, as well as a more stringent skills training pathway. This would further lift the standards of training and skills across the industry, which is in the best interests of consumers,” says Florence.