Building Code Compliance Assessment of Construction

All building construction in New Zealand must comply with the mandatory Building Code regulations, even if it doesn’t require a building consent. This ensures all buildings are safe, healthy and durable for everyone who uses them.

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When do I need a building code compliance assessment?

Many buildings in NZ have been built or altered without obtaining a building consent, or if issued with a building consent such a large amount of time has passed before applying for a CCC that leaves council unsure whether the work completed complies with the building code at the time the work was carried out.

This often results in a Certificate of Acceptance (CoA) application, section 95a letter or a Notice to Fix (NTF) being issued.

What is a Certificate of Acceptance?

A CoA is a letter issued by the territorial authority (TA) for the area where the building is located. It is usually issued for work that was carried out without a building consent. However, a building owner may apply when any of the following situations occur.

  • Where a current or previous owner has carried out building work for which consent was required but was not obtained (under either the 1991 or 2004 Building Acts).
  • Where a building consent authority that is not a territorial or regional authority is unable or refuses to issue a code compliance certificate in respect of building work for which it granted building consent.
  • Where a building certifier is unable or refuses to issue a code compliance certificate or building certificate
  • Where building work started or consented before 31 March 2005 affects public premises.
  • An owner must apply for a certificate of acceptance for building work that has been carried out urgently without a building consent when a building consent would ordinarily have been required (see section 42 of the Building Act 2004).
  • An owner must apply for a certificate of acceptance for building work that has been carried out urgently (see section 42 of the Building Act 2004).

The fact that a certificate of acceptance can be issued does not relieve a person from the legal requirement to obtain a building consent for building work. The territorial authority still has the ability to issue a notice to fix (NTF) and to prosecute building owners, builders and supervisors for failing to obtain a building consent.

A certificate of acceptance cannot be issued if:

  • Building work was carried out prior to 1 July 1992 (when the building consent provisions of the Building Act 1991 came into force)
  • A building consent was ever obtained for the work concerned (except in the situation where a building certifier or building consent authority that is not a territorial or regional authority is unable or refuses to issue a code compliance certificate or if building work, started or consented before 31 March 2005, affects public premises).

An application for a certificate of acceptance must be made to the territorial authority responsible for the district where the building work is located.

What does an application for a certificate of acceptance (CoA) involve?

To apply for a CoA the following are the typical stages of work required:

  • An assessment of the council property file and a site assessment to confirm the nature and condition of the building before the unconsented work was carried out and to identify the extent of work that has been carried out without a building consent. It may be necessary to carry out invasive investigations, for example opening up internal wall and ceiling linings to confirm insulation is installed, opening up external cladding to determine whether water ingress and damage has occurred, excavating the edges of a concrete floor to determine the presence of damp proof membranes, removing tiles to confirm internal wet areas have waterproof membranes installed etc.
  • Inspect and confirm the electrical installation is building code compliant
  • Inspect and confirm the plumbing and drainage installation is building code compliant
  • Carry out any remedial work which is identified as necessary in order to achieve building code compliance (some of this work may require a building consent)
  • Provide accurate as-built plans of the completed building work (this may also require the whole house to be re-drawn depending on the nature and extent of work that has been carried out)
  • Submit an application for a certificate of acceptance to council

What is a section 95a letter and what should I do about it?

Building Code Compliance

A section 95a letter is issued by a building consent authority (BCA, usually a council) under section 95a of the NZ Building Act 2004, informing a building owner, or applicant, of the BCA’s refusal to issue a code compliance certificate (CCC) and their reason(s) for refusal.

The section 95a letter usually results from a building owner applying for a CCC for building work that has been completed under an old building consent.  The BCA will carry out a final inspection of the building work to verify building code compliance and discover one or more aspects of the construction that they believe does not comply with the building code and issue a section 95a letter accordingly.

The section 95a letter will often list the areas of non-compliance with the building code and advise the building owner what steps the BCA require the owner to take to resolve the building code non-compliances.

If you have received a section 95a letter describing building code non-compliances and need assistance in resolving the issues, Reveal Building Consultants Limited can provide the necessary advice and guidance to bring the building to building code compliance and obtain a CCC.

Get in touch with our consultants to resolve your section 95a letter.

What is a Notice to Fix and what should I do about it?

A NTF may be issued due to failures to comply with the building code or regulations, if a building warrant of fitness is not correct or if procedures in a compliance schedule have not been properly complied with. Failure to comply with a NTF carries a fine of up to $200,000 and another up to $20,000 for each day the offense continues.

Under sections 163 to 168 inclusive of the NZ Building Act 2004 a NTF may be issued by any of the following:

  • a building consent authority (BCA)
  • a territorial authority (TA)
  • a regional authority

If it is believed any of the following has occurred:

  • a specified person (who can be the building owner, a person carrying out or supervising building work) is contravening or failing to comply with the NZ Building Act 2004 or the building regulations (for example, the requirement to obtain a building consent); or
  • a building warrant of fitness or dam warrant of fitness is not correct; or
    the inspection, maintenance, or reporting procedures stated in a compliance schedule are not being, or have not been properly complied with.

A reasonable time must be allowed for compliance with the NTF, which will vary depending on the seriousness, circumstances and complexity of each case.

The following link explains in more detail:

More questions about building code compliance?

If you have received a s95a letter or NTF, or have questions relating to building code compliance issues, we can assist by reviewing the documentation, surveying the property and producing recommendations for resolution of the issues identified – Get in touch.

Work with the professionals

Reveal offer a full service for resolving building code compliance issues, including building investigations, remedial design, clerk of works and ultimately delivering a CCC to our clients.

Reveal have extensive experience in resolving s95a, COA and NTF issues for our clients. Reveal’s co-founder and director Nick Gaites wrote the industry practice guidance note on assessing building code performance, whilst serving as an executive member of the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors (NZIBS) governing committee.

Building Code

The building code is contained in the first schedule of the Building Regulations 1992.  Building regulations are made under and in accordance with the Building Act 2004 (the Act). Find out more in our FAQ section

Get advice on becoming Building Code Compliant…