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Finalists in the NZCB Apprentice Challenge also participated in the fun-focused Great Apprentice Race, which involved them constructing and racing carts

Annual conference marks 20 years for NZCB

At the NZ Certified Builders (NZCB) annual conference in Rotorua on 25–26 May, more than 700 builders came together to celebrate the association’s 20th anniversary and to canvass key issues at a time when the sector remains under pressure from growing demand.

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The conference programme included a wide range of technical and business-focused sessions designed to support NZCB member builders in navigating the ever-increasing complexities of the industry. It also had a strong focus on understanding and meeting consumer expectations, which is critical for the reputation of the building industry as a whole.

This included a keynote speech by high-profile TV journalist and consumer champion Gordon Harcourt on building guarantees and the risks associated with many of these for New Zealand consumers. In particular, he highlighted the issue that in New Zealand, building guarantees are not mandatory, as they are in the UK, which exposes Kiwi consumers to significant risk.

TV journalist and consumer champion Gordon Harcourt provided the keynote speech at the annual NZCB conference

However, he acknowledged and highlighted NZCB’s industry leadership in this regard, having introduced its Halo building guarantee in 2016, which applies on a mandatory basis to any building project over $30,000 that is undertaken by an NZCB member builder.

A consumer’s perspective

Mr Harcourt also moderated an interactive consumer panel discussion, which included representatives from Consumer NZ and HOBANZ (Home Owners and Buyers Association), designed to enable the builders attending the conference to hear the consumer perspective first-hand.

Key issues raised by the consumer panel included builders’ poor communication and their focus on managing compliance and mitigating their own risk, in the context of the regulatory environment, at the expense of a focus on getting the job done and doing it well.

On the flipside, the panel also discussed the responsibility consumers have for asking the right questions, ensuring they have written contracts and other documentation, and keeping the lines of communication open throughout a job, rather than waiting till the end of a job to complain or query an invoice.

Paul Smith from Consumer NZ stated that their research shows that New Zealanders have the least confidence in decisions relating to building and renovation. Both Consumer NZ and HOBANZ are currently focused on raising consumer awareness and education in this space. Panellists made the point that there is also a role for builders to be more proactive in this regard.

Educational workshops

The conference also included the final of the 2018 NZCB Apprentice Challenge, where 19 regional finalists competed for the national title. The overall winner was Northland’s Matt Hatchard, aged 36, while Auckland’s Robert Piutau (33) and Nelson’s Thomas Ashley (25) came second and third respectively. All 19 finalists also participated in the fun-focused Great Apprentice Race, which involved them constructing and racing carts.


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