About the Building Act

The Building Act 2004 is the legislation that governs the building industry in New Zealand.

The Act aims to improve control of, and encourage better practices in, building design and construction.

This means:

  • more clarity on the standards we expect buildings to meet
  • more guidance on how those standards can be met
  • more certainty that capable people are undertaking building design, construction and inspection
  • more scrutiny in the building consent and inspection process
  • better protection for homeowners through the introduction of mandatory warranties.

The Building Act 2004 repealed the Building Act 1991

The Building Act 2004 repealed the Building Act 1991 and dissolved the Building Industry Authority, which had regulated the building industry under the 1991 Act. Administration of the Building Act then shifted to the Department of Building and Housing, which was established on 1 November 2004, the Department, in turn and was integrated into the newly formed Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in July 2012.

The Act is implemented in stages

Some measures in the new legislation came into effect on 30 November 2004 and 31 March 2005. Some amendments to the Act took effect from 14 April 2005.

Other measures will be implemented over the next few years to allow time for supporting regulations to be developed.

Changes to the Building Act has more information on the changes to the Act.

The Act sets up a framework

The Act set up a framework that aims to ensure there is strong decision-making at every stage of the building or renovating process.

The Act sets up the Framework

The Act introduces:

  • a review of the Building Code for more clarity about building standards and more guidance about how to meet those standards
  • licensing and accreditation, which aim to provide more certainty that the people doing and certifying the work have the skills for the job
  • more scrutiny in the monitoring process that checks building and design work, and overseeing of the sector by the government.

Structure of the Building Act

The Building Act 2004 provides the framework for New Zealand’s building control system.

When reading the Building Act it is important to take account of any subsequent amendments. The Act has been amended several times since 2004 – online versions of the Act will include all amendments to date, printed versions may be out of date.

The Building Act has five parts:

Part 1: The purpose and principles of the Building Act, together with an overview, and commencement dates for various provisions and definitions. These sections provide an important reference point for reading and interpreting the Building Act.

Part 2 (and Schedules 1 and 2): Matters relating to the Building Code and building work (for example, building consents).

Part 3: Sets out the functions, duties and powers of the chief executive of the government department responsible for administration of the Act (currently the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment), territorial authorities, regional authorities, and building consent authorities. It also deals with the accreditation of building consent authorities and dam owners, and product certification.

Part 4 (and Schedule 3): Matters relating to the licensing and disciplining of building practitioners.

Part 5 (and Schedule 4): Miscellaneous matters including offences and criminal proceedings, implied terms of contracts for residential building work, regulation-making powers, amendments to other enactments and the repeal of the Building Act 1991, and the transitional provisions from the Building Act 1991 to the Building Act 2004.