Legislation Update - Building Amendment Bill

The Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes have highlighted the need for improved legislation governing the management of buildings after an emergency. The Building Amendment Bill has been introduced to Parliament and had its first reading this month, with the aim of creating a better process around management and investigation powers for buildings post-earthquakes.

The Bill amends the Building Act 2004, and proposes increased powers for territorial authorities and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) aimed at improving the system for managing buildings after an emergency and investigating building failures to learn from these failings moving forward. The two key amendments proposed in the Bill are set out below.

Managing buildings after an emergencyInvestigating building failures
  • Introduces into the Building Act an end-to-end process for managing buildings from response to recovery following an emergency.
  • Provides powers to territorial authorities (and where a state of emergency or transition period is in force, the relevant civil defence emergency management person) to manage buildings during and after an emergency event.
  • Territorial authority power includes inspecting and placing notices on buildings, evacuating and restricting entry to buildings, and closing or cordoning off streets.
  • Provides MBIE a set of legislative powers to investigate significant building failures to determine the circumstances and causes of those failures.
  • Enables MBIE, on its own initiative or at the request of the Minister responsible for the Building Act, to investigate the circumstances and causes of building failures including powers to:
  • secure a site to be investigated for a reasonable period;
    • enter a property and carry out inspections;
    • require information relating to the building failure from any person who might hold relevant information;
    • share relevant information with the responsible regulatory bodies; and
    • publish reports and findings.
  • Replaces the current process used by MBIE when investigating significant building failures with a more streamlined and comprehensive process to obtain the best information possible to inform the relevant industry bodies and the public.

The public will soon have an opportunity to make submissions on the Bill as part of the legislative process. These submissions will be reviewed by the Select Committee and help shape the final version of the legislation.

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