New Zealand Construction Legislation

Updated: Jan 4

According to the Cambridge dictionary, compliance means:

· “The act of obeying an order, rule, or request”.

· “The fact of obeying a particular law or rule, or of acting according to an agreement”.


We hear and deal with compliance daily, and most people understanding that to be compliant means that you are following the law by achieving specific requirements. But which law? And specifically for the construction industry, how is the legislation structured?


The Building Act 2004 is the primary legislation governing the building industry. Acts are bills that have been passed by Parliament and have received the Royal assent.

It provides the framework for the building control system in New Zealand, including all construction, alteration, demolition and removal of new and existing buildings, and the inspection and maintenance of specified systems. The purposes of the Act are:

a) to provide for the regulation of building work, the establishment of a licensing regime for building practitioners, and the setting of performance standards for buildings to ensure that:

i) building users can do so safely and without endangering their health; and

ii) buildings have attributes that contribute appropriately to the health, physical independence, and well-being of its users; and

iii) building users can escape from the building if it is on fire; and

iv) buildings are designed, constructed, and able to be used in ways that promote sustainable development:

b) to promote the accountability of owners, designers, builders, and building consent authorities responsible for ensuring that building work complies with the building code.


The various Building Regulations are legislative documents that contain prescribed forms, list specified systems, define ‘change the use’ and ‘moderate earthquake’, and set out the rate of levy and fees for determinations. Regulations are not actions of the Parliament, but a law-making action made under the delegated authority of an Act.

· Building (Exempt Building Work) Order 2019

· Building (Forms) Amendment Regulations 2019

· Building (Levy) Regulations 2019

· Building (Product Certification) Amendment Regulations 2019

· Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Regulations 2019


The Building Code contained in Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations 1992, which sets performance standards all new building work must meet and covers aspects such as stability, protection from fire, access, moisture, the safety of users, services and facilities energy efficiency.


The Code does not prescribe how work should be carried out – it contains objectives and criteria that state how a building must function and perform after the building work is complete. There are many ways to comply with these criteria, and the Code allows for a wide variety of designs, technology and systems.


To comply with the Building Code, Verification Methods, and Acceptable Solutions can be used. If followed, a compliance document has to be accepted as establishing compliance with the Building Code.


A Verification Method requires some expertise to use and comprises test or calculation methods that prescribe a way to comply.


Acceptable Solutions, however, require no particular design expertise and are simple step-by-step instructions for compliance.


Compliance with the Building Code can also be achieved by using an alternative method proposal. The applicant must provide sufficient information to satisfy the Building Consent Authority that the Building Code’s performance requirements will be met.


Alternative methods are used when the proposed building work is either not covered by a compliance document or the building consent applicant chooses not to use it. By issuing the consented, the work becomes an Alternative Solution.


Acts and Regulations are law! Everybody in New Zealand must follow it.


See below an illustration of how the New Zealand construction legislation is structured:



The most recent version of these documents can be found on the following link:


· The Building Act and all regulations, including the Building Code, can be found on https://www.legislation.govt.nz/


· The Building Act: https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2004/0072/latest/DLM306036.html


· The Building Code is Schedule 1 of Building Regulations 1992:

https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/1992/0150/latest/DLM162576.html#DLM6632400


· The Building Code Handbook can be found at MBIE website:

https://www.building.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/building-code-compliance/handbooks/building-code-handbook/building-code-handbook-3rd-edition-amendment-13.pdf


· Building Code Compliance (Find Acceptable Solutions, Verification Methods, updates and technical guidance by Building Code clause:

https://www.building.govt.nz/building-code-compliance/

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