Article: Speak Easy

The 56-page Standard Building Contract: With Michael BoturThe 56-page Standard Building Contract: With Michael Botur

The 56-page Standard Building Contract: More Than Just A Cure For Insomnia

NZStandard 3902:2004 was, at the end of last year, made free to purchase/download in an effort to increase compliance and prevent overcharging.

Ever read the thing? I’ve downloaded one and, at 56 pages, it’s a cure for insomnia. Useful, though, as we’ve all heard stories of builders downing tools when there’s a relationship breakdown.

The standard contract covers a lot of things which are essential but which some of us might never have stopped to ponder – allowances, cancellation dates, start conditions, builder’s account for materials, precise finish time, delay damages and more.

The right kind of contract should cover the following to protect both builder and buildee.

• Before agreeing to building or design work, a contractor must provide potential residential clients who ask for it or whose project will cost $30,000 or more (including GST) with a disclosure statement including information about skills, qualifications, licensing status and any insurance or guarantees related to the work; a standard checklist that includes information about the steps of a build and minimum requirements for a contract.

• When pricing a job, the price should be the total cost of all the building work (including supplies, fixtures, fittings and GST), regardless of whether a subcontractor is doing all or part of the work.

• A builder can only exclude the cost of the subcontractors’ work if they enter into a separate contract with the client.

• All building work in New Zealand must meet the requirements of the Building Code, even if it doesn’t require a building consent.

• Information about ‘who will do what’ should be included in any contract. For example, the contractor might take on the role of obtaining the building consent, even though it is the homeowner’s responsibility. Nobody can contract out of this obligation, but someone else can do it on the homeowner’s behalf.

A licensed building practitioner (LBP – carpenter, bricklayer, roofer, plasterer, foundation specialist) must provide the homeowner with documentation about the work they have done or supervised, in the form of a Record of Work or a Certificate of Work. The homeowner will need it to get the work signed-off by the council at the end of the build.

• Once the building work is completed, the builder must give clients a copy of any current insurance policy for the building work completed under the contract. Also they must give a copy of any guarantees or warranties for materials or services used in the building work. Also Information about the processes and materials to be used to maintain the building work

And did you know?
- The Main contractor is required by law to fix any defective building work notified within 12 months of the building being completed.
• The main contractor is responsible for the quality of the work done by subcontractors
• Any defective product must be remedied by the builder
- Once the 12-month defect remedy period ends, contractors still have a responsibility to remedy defective work after the 12-month defect repair period ends, for up to 10 years.
Struth! Lots of responsibility, but it’s good that we keep our standards high.

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.

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