Builders' qualifications & trade organisations

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What you should ask about builders' qualifications and trade organisations.

Checking the builders’ qualifications

Some people who have been building for many years may not be qualified, i.e. they may not have done an apprenticeship and/or trade certificate courses, but they may be very good at what they do. However, anyone can pick up a hammer and call themselves a builder without any skills or training. It would be wise to ask the builders what training and qualifications they have.

Licensing of building practitioners

You can now check an electronic public register to see if your builder or tradesperson is a licensed building practitioner.

Being licensed provides you with an assurance that the practitioner has shown they have the skills, knowledge and experience to meet government-backed national standards.

You must use a licensed practitioner for certain important building and design work on your home (in much the same way you would hire an electrician or plumber).

Trade organisations

There are two main trade organisation for builders, the New Zealand Certified Builders Association (CBANZ) and the Registered Master Builders Association(RMBA).

Certified Builders Association

Some qualified builders may be members of the Certified Builders Association of New Zealand (CBANZ) which only accepts people who are qualified to CBANZ specifications, i.e. they have:

  • Completed their apprenticeship in carpentry prior to 1980 and have remained actively engaged as a builder; or
  • A Trade Certificate or Advanced Trade Certificate in Carpentry, or Carpentry and Joinery (or today's equivalent), or a National Certificate or National * Certificate Advanced in Carpentry; or
  • A Certificate in Building (NZCB); or
  • Any recognised overseas qualification.

Members have a Code of Practice which provides standards for all the stages of the building process. The Code requires builders to:

  • Only quote for a project if they have the time to take it on.
  • Have sufficient insurance cover for the contract.
  • Provide a 10-year Homefirst Builders Guarantee.
  • Arrange a date to return to deal with any defects which may have arisen during the first few months of you living in the house.

Members are also bound by a Code of Ethics and Conduct which covers things like acting at all times with honesty and integrity, and complying with the law and industry standards of conduct prescribed in the Code. If you think your certified builder has acted outside the Code of Ethics and Conduct, you can make a written complaint to the CBANZ. This does not apply to contractual disputes for which you should apply the dispute provisions in the contract.

Registered Master Builders Association

Builders may belong to the Registered Master Builders Association (RMBA).

To qualify for membership Registered Master Builders must meet the following criteria:


  • A minimum of six years building experience, comprising completion of a carpentry apprenticeship, or a relevant tertiary building related qualification (e.g. B.Arch, B.Eng, NZCB, NZCQS, NZCE, NZCD); and have at least three continuous years as a builder in business on their own account, and/or in day-to-day management of a building business.


  • A minimum of eight years continuous building experience, comprising at least five years as a builder contractor in business on their own account, and/or in day-to-day management of a building business, whether having completed any formal examinations or not.

The RMBA has a Constitution and Code of Conduct, which Registered Master Builders must comply with at all times.

Registered Master Builders offer a third party written guarantee on all new homes and renovations, which provides cover for:

  • loss of deposit.
  • non-completion of work.
  • materials, workmanship and structural matters.

(NOTE: conditions apply to the above.)

To become approved as a Registered Master Builder, the person or company has to provide trade references from their bank, accountant and trade merchants proving they are financially responsible and can run a business. They must also provide examples of their work for inspection. Once registered they are inspected several times a year by the RMBA mobile service team.

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