It's good to see New Zealand councils imploring the Government to introduce warranties in new building laws to further protect homeowners as well as local bodies.
Building reforms before Parliament were designed to make the construction industry more accountable for its work, but councils say the changes do not go far enough.
A review of the Building Act which took place after the $22 billion leaky building crisis recommended a warranty scheme, but it has not been included in the two amendment bills introduced since the review.
Christchurch and Wellington city councils have urged the Government to introduce a warranty scheme to protect consumers and local authorities from liability when builders do not produce good work.
The move is likely to have wide support from homeowners in the Western Bay.
Earlier this month, the Bay of Plenty Times reported that Tauranga homeowners were sitting on a leaky homes ticking time bomb. Tauranga City Council has the fifth highest number of leaky homes with 283 properties covered by 98 claims.
But that number represents the tip of the iceberg, according to industry experts.
The story detailed how Tauranga couple George and Linda Rolls' dream home turned into a leaky homes nightmare. The cost of repairs, fees and everything else had cost the couple $370,000. They built the house for $240,000.
This week, Christchurch councillor Sue Wells told a select committee councils ended up being the last man standing because there was no warranty that would protect ratepayers in the event licensed builders who undertook repairs or rebuilds did not do a good job. If the Building Amendment Bill was passed, builders would be required to show their track record before taking on a job, and any defects would have to be fixed within 12 months. But council submitters said builders regularly shut down their companies and escaped liability, pointing to the fact small construction firms last an average of three years.
A Wellington City Council spokesman said the remedies needed to dissuade the building sector from avoiding the cost of doing remedial work. He recommended a government or industry-run surety fund.
Homeowners like Rolls who have been caught by the leaky homes debacle will not doubt support the councils' bid to strengthen the new building laws.
A warranty scheme would provide some protection to homeowners who are likely to be caught out if the building firm they employed to do the work shuts up shop and therefore escapes any liability. The Government needs to ensure more homeowners are not left in a no-win situation.