New Zealand Law Society - Bill amends building management powers after emergencies

Bill amends building management powers after emergencies

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa has introduced the Building Amendment Bill to Parliament.

The bill amends the Building Act 2004 and proposes two new sets of powers to improve the system for managing buildings after an emergency and to provide for investigating building failures.

New process following emergency

It introduces into the Building Act an end-to-end process for managing buildings from response to recovery following an emergency.

The explanatory statement with the bill says the new scheme of powers is required because existing business-as-usual powers under the Building Act to manage dangerous and insanitary buildings are inadequate for this purpose.

It says the Canterbury and Kaikōura earthquakes highlighted gaps in current legislation for managing buildings after an emergency, including the need to better manage the transition from civil defence emergency management powers to business-as-usual powers under the Building Act.

If a state of emergency or transition period is in force under the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002, buildings in a designated area that have been damaged in an emergency event will primarily be managed under the Building Act, with the broader powers under the CDEM Act in relation to buildings available only if necessary or desirable to remove or reduce risks.

During a state of emergency or transition period, the relevant CDEM decision-makers will exercise the powers. The bill sets out a process for deciding how and when to use the new building emergency management powers. It also provides a mechanism to transfer directives made under the CDEM Act to the building emergency management powers in the bill at the end of any state of emergency or transition period.

Building failure investigation

The bill proposes amendments to the Building Act that provide the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment with a clear set of legislative powers to investigate significant building failures to determine the circumstances and causes of those failures. The key focus of the proposed powers is to learn lessons in order to improve building regulation to help avoid similar occurrences in the future.

The bill proposes that the powers of investigation can be used only when there has been a building failure that resulted or could have resulted in serious injury or death.

If enacted, the bill will come into force on a day or days appointed by the Governor-General by Order in Council. Default commencement occurs 6 months after Royal assent.