Do-it-yourself builders can build their own homes under new building laws - but will face the same consequences for shoddy work as licensed builders. (The NZ Herald - April 25, 2008)
"Building Minister Shane Jones yesterday announced new rules for home handymen which allow DIY builders to build their own homes.
They will also be liable for their workmanship for 10 years afterwards, in the same way licensed builders are.
The exemption from the requirement to use licensed builders for major structural work is reserved for those working on their own homes only and they must fill out a statutory declaration stating any new building will be their home.
It must also be recorded on council-held LIM reports as DIY.
The extension of the implied 10-year warranty of workmanship to DIYers will give future owners of any DIY-built home some comeback.
The new rules clarify the rights of home handymen after confusion following the introduction of the licensing scheme, under which from 2010 only licensed builders can do work defined as 'restricted'.
The licensing scheme is designed to improve building standards after the leaky homes cases. It does not prevent home handymen from doing simple work, such as decks or sheds.
However, there was a question mark over whether DIYers could do more major structural work, such as building a house.
Builders' organisations said giving a wide exemption to DIYers would allow unlicensed 'rogue' builders to work under the radar.
Yesterday Registered Master Builders' Federation chief executive Pieter Burghout said the changes ensured only "genuine DIYers" could do such work.
'If genuine DIYers want to build their own home and save a few dollars, that's fine by us. But if you're a builder trying to make money from it, you should be licensed.'
Mr Jones said applying the Building Act 10-year warranty also gave future buyers of DIY homes some protection.
'If DIY builders want the right to continue, then that's fine, but if something goes wrong, they will have to stand behind their work.'
The new licensing scheme will not affect the rights of home handymen to do minor work, such as moving a window or building a free-standing deck or garage.
The exact work to be defined as 'restricted work' is yet to be established. Mr Jones said it would include work in which water-proofing, fire-proofing or structural safety was critical."
Rules for DIY home builders:* Can build a house only on their own land.
* Must fill out a statutory declaration saying it is their own home.
* Must say it is DIY-built on council records, such as LIM reports.
* Will be liable for quality of it for 10 years under the Building Act warranty.
What can you do yourself?
There is a limited amount of electrical work you can do when it comes to wiring in your own home. This is listed in regulation 51 of the Electricity Regulations 1997 and includes:
• Replacing switches, socket outlets, lamp holders, ceiling roses, water heater switches, thermostats and elements.
• Repairing light fittings.
• Moving, repairing or replacing flexible cords connected to permanently connected outlets or ceiling roses.
• Disconnecting and reconnecting permanently wired appliances.
• Moving switches, sockets and lighting outlets, but only if they are wired with tough plastic-sheathed cables.
• Installing, extending, or altering any cables (except the main cables that come from the street to your switchboard). You have to get the finished job checked and tested by a licensed electrical inspector. You cannot connect your work to the electricity supply yourself. The inspector will connect it, test it, and issue you with a Certificate of Compliance (see below) if it complies with safety requirements.
• Fitting plugs, cord extension sockets or appliance connectors to a flexible cord.
• Replacing fuse wires and fuse cartridges.
• Repairing appliances.
Before you do any work, make sure:
• You have the necessary knowledge and skills.
• The power is turned off.
• You are not anywhere where conductors or terminals are live or could become live.
When something goes wrong
If you think something has gone wrong, make sure the power is off and contact a licensed electrician. Otherwise you risk injuring yourself or someone who lives with you and you could be prosecuted and fined $10,000 (section 163 of the Electricity Act 1992).
There are training providers (like technical institutes) that run courses for people wanting to do their own electrical work at home.
For more information about working safely with electricity, contact the Energy Safety Service.
Work that must be done by a licensed electrician
Any work not appearing in the list above must be done by a licensed electrician. This is a person registered by the Electrical Workers Registration Board (EWRB).
For any new work done, the electrician must issue you a Certificate of Compliance (CoC), a copy of which is also sent to the EWRB.
The CoC is an assurance that the work has been done to New Zealand’s electrical and safety standards. Keep the CoC safe. You may need it for an insurance claim or when you are selling your house.
A CoC is not required for maintenance work such as replacing sockets and light fittings.
Note that you are not permitted to do any work on a switchboard, apart from replacing fuse wire or fuse cartridges.
For more information on the “Do it Yourself” opportunities for building your own home go to:
www.buildingguide.co.nz, for complete up to date information.