Know your stuff: When is supervising supervision?

Posted: 1 June 2016

Two building professionals discuss design plans
All Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) can supervise a non-LBP in carrying out restricted building work (RBW). Check you know what supervision really means in the Building Act 2004.
Article is relevant to all LBP licence classes. Article is relevant to all LBP licence classes.

If you are a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) you can supervise a non-LBP in carrying out restricted building work (RBW), to ensure that they are doing it well and that the work complies with the building consent. However, you cannot supervise another LBP who holds the same licence class.

Why is this important? Well, if somebody complains to the Building Practitioners Board about an LBP who has been overseeing work, then it is really important to know whether or not the LBP was actually supervising the work. If the work was supervised then the supervising LBP might be accountable for the work (and could be reprimanded by the Board if the matter was serious enough).

First things first, what is supervision? It is defined section 7 of the Building Act 2004:

  • supervise, in relation to building work, means provide control or direction and oversight of the building work to an extent that is sufficient to ensure that the building work—
  1. is performed competently; and
  2. complies with the building consent under which it is carried out.

So supervision, as far as an LBP goes, is where you supervise someone carrying out the work to ensure they are doing it well and that it is complying with the building consent. Interestingly, this definition says you can only supervise building work that has a building consent.

LBPs don’t supervise other LBPs

If you are an LBP and supervise someone who is not licensed, you might be accountable for the work they perform under your supervision. 

However, an LBP cannot supervise another LBP who holds the relevant licence. For example, a Carpentry LBP cannot supervise another Carpentry LBP. Both of the Carpentry LBPs are competent carpenters (or they wouldn’t have a licence) and so they are both legally entitled to carry out carpentry work.

As they are legally entitled to do the work, they are accountable to the Building Practitioners Board for the work they do. An LBP cannot pass this accountability off to someone else (even if that someone is the boss and he or she is telling you what to do, the boss can’t supervise you as far as the legal sense goes if you are licensed to carry out the work).

Handy hints:

  • If you are an LBP supervising restricted building work, you need to fill in a Record of Work (RoW).
  • If you are not actually supervising (because the person carrying out the work is licensed), or it is not restricted building work, you don’t need to fill in a RoW. The LBP doing the work needs to fill it in.
  • If the person carrying out the work is unlicensed and the work is restricted building work, they must be supervised by an LBP.
  • A design LBP can supervise a ‘non-LBP’ designer and the supervising LBP must complete the applicable Certificate of Work (Cow).  

Quiz questions – show you know

  • Who are Licensed Building Practitioners accountable to if they have supervised an unlicensed person who has done poor work?
  • Can an LBP supervise another LBP if they are both licensed but one of them doesn’t know how to install the product?
  • If you’re supervising someone who is unlicensed and they are not doing RBW, do you need to provide a Record of Work for their work?
  • What is the purpose of supervision as defined in the Building Act 2004?

Quiz answers

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: