On Sunday 24 May 2015, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment released a "Guide to Tolerances, Materials and Workmanship in New Residential Construction" (Guide). A copy can be accessed here.

Both contractors and their clients should take particular note of this Guide. It is part of the new Building Act consumer protections which came into force on 1 January 2015.

As part of those Building Act reforms, stronger obligations are placed on building contractors to fix any 'defects' notified by the client within a 12 month period after completion of building work. The difference between this and previous Building Act obligations is that (in addition to the timeframe) the onus of proof is on the contractor to show that the building work is not defective, rather than being on the client to prove a defect.

This Guide will be useful in providing an objective standard as to what constitutes a defect. Contractors should be careful, however, that if their general tolerances are outside those in this Guide, they may be required to conform to this Guide.

Clients of contractors should be careful that if they are contracting building work which they want to be of a higher quality than the tolerances set out in this Guide, they may need to specifically contract for this.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.