Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Building Changes in Foreign Lands

You may or may not be aware of the current provincial review called the "Modernization Strategy". Basically it is program that encompasses the major players in the building industry and it will compile recommendations to improve the quality of construction and inspections in BC.

However you may not be aware of the significant changes happening in other countries. New Zealand experienced many of the same "Leaky Condo" issues that we faced in BC. They went through an investigative and finger pointing period similar to our Barrett Commission (www.hpo.bc.ca/Publications/Barrett1) and came up with pretty much the similar causes and suggestions as we did. However what they have done since that time can be viewed as a drastic change in the way they do business industry wide. While we have adopted the HPO program, which I believe has raised the construction bar; it has failed to address the main issue of having mandatory qualified people doing the work. That would range from the builders, trades, designers and inspectors.

It appears that the NZ Department of Building and Housing has taken it seriously and are requiring all the major players on a construction job to meet minimum levels of competency. They call it the Building Practitioners Scheme. It is stated "Occupational licensing is for people who take pride in their work; for the people who want to take responsibility, not just for the quality of their own work, but also for the work of the people they supervise".

By 2010, a licensed building practitioner will be required to carry out or supervise specific restricted work on homes and other buildings. There will be 13 licenses being introduced that will apply to designers, builders, site supervisors, construction managers and carpenters. Further licensing will incorporate skilled trades such as roofers, specialized structural components and building services.

For more information go to www.dbh.govt.nz and click on Building.

Please let us know what you think of this type of licensing program.

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