David Kelly, CEO of Master Builders, said he was pleased that the Commerce Commission’s first report on the cost of building materials revealed some critical issues.
Kelly would like to see the idea of a centralized regulatory regime adopted, rather than the dozens of different consenting authorities in New Zealand.
That could mean that if a product is approved in one jurisdiction, it will be approved everywhere.
“There are 60 nearly 70 municipalities in New Zealand and they are all struggling with whether the new products meet the building regulations or not – from my perspective that’s really hopeless.”
Authoritative advice from the Department of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) central regulatory agency was needed, and the gib task force had shown it could be done, Kelly said.
There was only one building code, but 70 municipalities had to interpret what it meant, he said.
MBIE could issue a directive that the councils generally pick up, or it could issue a directive that certain products should be accepted, he said.
“I think the guidance is often the easiest way and a good way to go, but MBIE hasn’t been particularly active in that area in recent years.”
It would be preferable for one body to issue guidelines on products covering all of New Zealand, rather than each municipality having to work it out, he said.
Housing Secretary Megan Woods told: Checkpoint the government wanted detailed work and recommendations from the Commerce Commission and this preliminary report was a stepping stone.
The final report and conclusive recommendations are not expected until December, with an official response from the minister only next year.
The report indicated that some work was already underway, including providing guidance to construction permit authorities on how to make product substitutions, Woods said.
Asked why MBIE couldn’t list acceptable substitute products in other areas, Woods said if it made sense, the government would look to do that.
“I’m not ruling that out…I’m saying we’ve shown we can do it and I’m saying if it has to be done in other products, I certainly don’t rule that out.”
It was necessary to make sure there were simplified processes so that building inspectors and people in the permitting authorities needed to know how to run the variations, Woods said.
“We have to take the process that we’ve shown has worked with drywall and we have to do it product by product.”