Western Bay builders have six months to get up to speed with a new law to protect consumers from "cowboys only interested in making a quick buck".

From January 1 builders will be required to have written contracts, provide information on their relevant skills, experience and qualifications, and disclose their insurance and warranty cover for residential building work valued at more than $30,000.

Instant $500 fines could be issued for noncompliance.

Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith announced the legislation last Thursday, saying while it was encouraging to see building activity reach its highest rate in a decade, it was important to protect consumers against inferior building work.


Todd Grey of Todd Grey Builder said many builders already adhered to similar criteria and the new legislation would help to bring less reputable builders up to a decent standard.

"That's got to be a good thing, but it's like everything though, there must be someone keeping an eye on things," he said.

Mr Grey said shonky builders were out there and they tended to prey on people when the building industry was in high demand.

"When everything's picked up and there's a lot of work around ... we get more and more cowboys.

"Clients get stuck in finding a builder and sometimes they panic if they are all busy and that's when the cowboys come in."

Western Bay and Tauranga residential building consents are up on last year, 1135 issued in the year to June 2014 at an average value of $290,843, up from 920 in 2013 at an average value of $282,918, according to Statistics New Zealand.

However, consents for alterations are down on last year, with 235 at an average value of $61,580, down from 275 at an average value of $49,760.

Mr Grey said anyone seeking a builder should check that builder's previous clients and reputation in the industry.

"It's just word of mouth. It's a pretty small town.

"For us, we don't try to have the flashest sign or advertising. For us it's through referrals or word of mouth."

Tauranga Classic Builders sales manager Mark Hooper said companies were already abiding by the requirements as good practice.

"We do it on every single contract that goes out the door. I think it can only be a good thing if it's going to regulate the market a lot more and clean it up, get all the cowboys off the street."

Dr Smith said the new requirements would reinforce the good practice of many building repairers while "constraining cowboys only interested in making a quick buck".

"We need to replace a 'she'll be right' with a 'doing it right' culture, with increased professionalism, open disclosure and clear expectations about what work is to be done, at what price and in what time frame."

The legislation is part of a wider programme of regulations introduced in the wake of the leaky buildings problem and the Canterbury earthquakes.

with Kiri Gillespie