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Kiwis free to take up DIY tools


Kiwi DIY culture is set to flourish after the Government announced relaxed building standards yesterday, but some builders are concerned about faulty construction from amateurs.

Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones said the changes would remove the heavily criticised "gold-plated building standards".

The new requirements, which will come into effect on October 16, allow more building and renovation work to be done on properties without obtaining a building consent.

They include building a small cabin, installing or replacing doors and windows as long as there are no structural changes, and building awnings or verandas over a deck.

Jones said the changes would create flexibility for homeowners wanting to do minor building work.

"The value of what I have done here will be seen over time," Jones said.

"The pleasing thing for me is that Kiwis up and down the country can take up their tools once more and go about doing what has always been a tradition in New Zealand."

Jones's comments are a far cry from the tightened standards brought in last year to offset the leaky homes saga.

"The Prime Minister asked me to find ways to ... tackle regulation," the minister said.

"I promised to cut red tape and that is exactly what I have done."

However, qualified Christchurch carpenter Scott Green said the new freedom granted to homeowners could result in cases of faulty construction.

When The Press spoke to Green yesterday he was fixing a botched DIY job a wall that was not properly constructed.

"There are a lot of DIYers out there that just don't know what they are doing," Green said.

"A wall is a wall to a lot of people. People don't know what is a load-bearing wall or not.

"Just widening a doorway could have problems.

"A lot of bracing goes on with internal walls these days," he said.

"All you need is a good jolt (earthquake) and things can start moving around.

"I think everyone should keep to their own trade. It really should done by someone who knows what they are doing."

Green said it was hard to know how the changes would work.

"We'll see in a few years time," he said.

Christchurch DIY enthusiast Keith Kemp said the changes were simply legalising what had been going on for years.

"They've just given up trying to police it.

"People think their DIY skills are far higher than they are," Kemp said.

"I've been DIYing for years, and have even built a complete house, with a permit.

"(People) would have made a hash under the old rules and not bothered getting a permit and kept quiet," he said.

"Now at least they will boast about their DIY skills and people can judge for themselves."