Not all homeowners have the time, desire or experience to carry out maintenance on their home. Before getting prices or quotes, prepare a list that clearly outlines:

  • the work to be done
  • when you would like it done by – alternatively, have the tradesperson give a start date and estimation for the time frame
  • the standard of preparation you require
  • the materials you wish to be used. For example, specify whether acrylic or oil-based paint will be used, with one undercoat and two top coats
  • who has responsibility for damage - check that the person or company has public liability and builder’s all-risk insurance
  • when payments will be made.

When employing someone to do this work:

  1. Request an hourly rate cost for additional or unforeseen work. (Contractors should advise you as soon as unforeseen work becomes apparent and await your instructions before continuing.)
  2. Get prices from more than one contractor to assess the quoted price. The exception would be if you have used the tradesperson before and are satisfied with the quality of their work and costs.
  3. Be wary of a quote that is much lower or higher than other quotes, particularly if other quotes are similar.
  4. Accept the selected quote in writing and confirm the extent of the work quoted on.
  5. Employ members of trade associations such as the NZ Master Builders Federation, Certified Builders Association of NZ, Master Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers NZ or New Zealand Master Painters, as these organisations may be approached to help remedy problems where there has been unsatisfactory work or performance by one of their members.
  6. Only use tradespeople who are properly licensed or registered plumbers, electricians, gasfitters, and so on.
    • Restricted building work (such as major structural work or work on the exterior cladding) must be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner (LBP). You can ask to see and LBP's photo ID card,or you can search the online register to find an LBP, check someone is licensed, or see if they have been disciplined in the last 3 years.
    • Plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers must carry an authorisation card from the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board. You can also search the online register.
    • Registered electrical workers also carry an ID card, or can be found through the online register.
  7. If you do not want to supervise work yourself, employ:
    • a registered architect
    • a designer who is a member of a recognised professional body such as ADNZ
    • a chartered professional engineer.

Consumer protection

Under the Building Act, written contracts are mandatory for residential building work of $30,000 (including GST) or more, but having a contract is a good idea even for jobs of lower value.

You can download a plain English contract for free from the Standards New Zealand website. NZS 3902:2004 Housing, alterations and small buildings contract is designed for use between homeowners and contractors working for them. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of each party.

For work over the $30,000 limit, building practitioners must give you a checklist and disclosure statement. Even if the work is below this dollar level, they must give you these if you ask for them. The checklist outlines the process, your role and rights. The disclosure statement gives information about the contracting company.

After the work is completed, the contractor must give you details of insurance they hold, copies of guarantees/warranties that apply and maintenance requirements.

The Building Act also sets out, from the date that building work is complete, an automatic 12-month period for the client to identify defective work. The contractor must remedy any defects you tell them about within this period.

You can find more information about these consumer protections on the MBIE website.