The Building Act

  • Building work in New Zealand is controlled by the Building Act 2004 and the various Building Regulations which includes the building code.

  • The legislation is administered nationally by the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) and on a local basis by building consent authorities using a building consent process.

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The purpose of the Act is to ensure that buildings:            

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  • Are safe, sanitary and have suitable means of escape from fire; and 
  • Contribute to the physical independence and well being of people who use them
  • Are designed, constructed and able to be used in ways that promote sustainable development.

The regulations prescribe the Building Code with which all building work must comply.  Performance standards that must be met include building:  

  • Durability
  • Fire safety
  • Sanitation (services and facilities)
  • Moisture control
  • Energy efficiency
  • Access

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You must have a Building Consent to carry out "building work". A Resource Consent and other authorisations may also be required before building work can commence. One or more of each consent type may be required for the same project.

Note:  Building Consents authorise "building work" not land use, and Resource Consents authorise land use and not building work.

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What is a Building?

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A building is any temporary or permanent, movable or immovable structure and its service connections. It includes temporary structures such as marquees. Please note this list is not exhaustive and you should check with your BCA prior to commencing work.

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The Council's role under the Act

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Council is both a building consent authority (BCA) and a territorial authority (TA) under the Building Act. Its function is to:

  • Administer the Building Act 2004 in its territorial district
  • Enforce the Building Code
  • Receive and consider applications for Building Consents
  • Approve or refuse building consent applications within the prescribed time limits
  • Issue Project Information Memoranda (PIM)
  • Issue Code Compliance Certificates
  • Receive and consider applications for Certificates of Acceptance (COA)
  • Receive and consider applications for Certificates for Public Use (CPU)
  • Issue Notices to Fix
  • Issue Compliance Schedules
  • Record building Warrant of Fitness details
  • Determine whether applications for waiver or modification of the building code, or documents for use in establishing compliance with the provisions of the building code should be granted or refused
  • Maintain a building records system available for public access for the life of the building to which it relates

 

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BUILDING ACT REVIEW

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A review is also underway of the Building Act, with the aim of cutting red tape in the building consent process.

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The review proposes that, with full implementation of licensing there is potential for a more risk-based approach to the building consent process, reflecting the competence (ie, licensing) of those doing the work. For example, the number of inspections for a straightforward new house could be cut from the current 12-15 down to four.

Fewer inspections would mean lower consenting costs and faster building times: When licensing is in full swing thousands of dollars could be knocked off the cost of a standard house.

More information on building practitioner licensing and restricted building work is available at www.dbh.govt.nz/lbp Information on the Building Act review is at www.dbh.govt.nz/buildingactreview