Codewords Issue 77

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23 March 2017

In this issue:

It might only be March but there’s so much going on in the industry right now it feels like we’re already halfway through the year. And in the last few months Kiwis have also had to deal with fires, flooding and earthquakes, so it’s been full on.

Since the Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes last year I’ve had a lot of conversations with a variety of people about earthquakes, buildings and safety. The same questions keep coming up – why are our buildings being pulled down, and does this mean our regulatory system isn’t working? I want to assure you all that our regulatory system is definitely working. One of the purposes of the Building Act is life safety. A building’s primary job in an earthquake is to save lives by allowing people to get out safely. However, this does sometimes mean that post-quake a building can’t be repaired to an acceptable standard, or will be too expensive to repair, and will need to be replaced.

In a related piece, this month Codewords looks at the story behind the new requirement to secure unreinforced masonry parapets and facades on buildings in certain areas of Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui. Risk to life safety on busy thoroughfares is an important consideration in those areas over the next 12 months, with the expected aftershocks following the Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes.

On another safety matter, MBIE recently set out the requirements for notices pool manufacturers and retailers must supply with pools. The notices inform consumers that pools must have barriers that restrict access by young children. You can read more on F9 Restricting access to residential pools

Progress is also being made on clarifying the requirements for retention money in construction contracts, with the Commerce Committee reporting back on 3 March on the Regulatory Systems (Commercial Matters) Amendment Bill. See an update on Construction Contracts Act 2002

In December last year we ran a survey asking how you’re finding our Building Performance website. Many thanks to those who participated, which has given us a better view of where you think we need to improve the site. As a result, we are looking more closely at the search function – and ask you all to complete another short survey. Please take part and have your say using the link in the first article below.

Next month (on 5–6 April 2017) the Medium Density Housing Summit is being held in Auckland, hosted by Architectural Designers New Zealand. Industry experts, including those from MBIE, will be speaking on acoustics, fire regulations, Standards, the Building Code and structural issues faced in medium-density housing. If you’re interested, you can find more information on the Architectural Designers New Zealand website.

Weather-wise, it’s starting to get a bit colder, so I hope you all get to see a bit of sun as we roll into autumn.


Code and technical changes

How well is working for you?

In December 2016 we asked you to answer a short survey. This month we are repeating the survey and, based on the feedback from December, we’ve added a question relating to the search function that we are keen for you to answer.

Please take a few minutes to answer the short survey to help us understand how well is working for you. The more people who do the survey, the better the information we have, so please take part.

Please note that your feedback is anonymous, so your survey response is not linked to you, your organisation or your email address. We will not know who has responded, unless you include your name, and that is your choice. All responses are confidential and will be combined for reporting. Individuals will not be identified.

The website’s job is to support all those involved in building work – designers, building contractors, building officials and building owners. We're always looking for ways to improve the website for you.

The survey will be open until the end of May 2017.

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Unreinforced masonry a risk to life safety

Building owners in certain areas of Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui will need to secure unreinforced masonry (URM) parapets and facades on their buildings if requested by a council, following a requirement introduced by the government in February.

The requirement is a response to heightened concern about URM buildings following the large Kaikōura earthquake on 14 November 2016 and based on experiences in the Canterbury earthquakes.

A number of URM buildings were affected in the 4 September 2010 Darfield earthquake, with some buildings then barricaded and some strengthened. Others were not remedied and whole facades fell down in the next significant Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011, with 39 people losing their lives.

Following the Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes, GNS Science advised of an increased risk of further damaging earthquakes occurring in the next 12 months in areas that include Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui.

Based on the GNS advice, the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE) and the Structural Engineering Society New Zealand (SESOC) made a joint submission to the Minister of Building and Construction in early December 2016 voicing a number of concerns, including risks regarding URM buildings.

MBIE Manager Determinations and Assurance John Gardiner, who managed the project for MBIE, says, “After the 2011 quake, people were reflecting and asking if more could have been done with URM buildings after the 2010 earthquake. After the Kaikoura earthquake, the increased risk of further earthquakes in the next 12 months meant that any action needed to be taken quickly.”

The Minister met with SESOC, NZSEE and MBIE representatives to discuss the matter, resulting in the government proposing and then introducing the requirement, and providing a government subsidy to get the work done. Owners of URM buildings that need work in Wellington, Lower Hutt, Marlborough and Hurunui will be notified by their council and have 12 months to act.

John says, “It is a reality that busy thoroughfares with buildings that have street-facing URM parapets and facades do present significant risks to life safety because of how vulnerable they can be in an earthquake.

“What we’re asking those affected owners to do over the next 12 months is to reduce risks from unsecured URM parapets and/or facades falling in crowded locations and threatening people’s safety.”

MBIE, with support from the engineering profession, has produced guidance to assist engineers and owners to undertake the work.

MBIE Chief Engineer Mike Stannard says, “This was a great example of the engineering profession reacting quickly by suggesting an initiative to government in the public interest. Everyone worked together to get legislation passed and the project was implemented in an extraordinarily short timeframe.”

Securing unreinforced masonry building parapets and facades has further information.

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Changes to fire safety requirements for external cladding systems

On 1 January 2017 a restriction on the use of combustible external cladding systems was published as part of Amendment 4 of Acceptable Solutions C/AS2–7.

Update: Please note this article was amended on 29 August 2017.

Previously, buildings up to 25m high or those with sprinkler protection required no testing of the external cladding system. The amendment removes this dispensation so all cladding systems for buildings over 7m high require a fire test.

Reasons behind the restriction

Recent high-profile fires in Melbourne and Dubai have highlighted the risk of combustible external cladding systems on high-rise buildings. Although these buildings were sprinkler protected, fires that started on the outside of the building were responsible for rapid external fire spread over several storeys.

Historically, New Zealand requirements have been developed on the theory that fires generally start inside buildings where sprinklers can control and prevent the fire spreading. However, based on the fires in Melbourne and Dubai, it is now recognised that fires can start on the outside of buildings and create significant damage, which has resulted in a review of the New Zealand requirements.

More recently, the London Grenfell Tower tragedy has further highlighted the importance of considering the combustibility and construction details of external cladding systems.

Cladding system requirements

The cladding system requirements are summarised as follows (refer to the relevant NZBC Part C Acceptable Solution for specific details):

Cladding typePeak heat release rate (kW/m2)Total heat release rate (MJ/m2)
Type A 100 25
Type B 150 50

From 1 January 2017 the Acceptable Solution requirements for external cladding are as follows:

Building height Distance to boundary <1mDistance to boundary >1m
0–7m Type A Type B for Risk Group SI
No Requirement for other Risk Groups
>7m Type A Type A for Risk Group SI
Type B for other Risk Groups
Risk Group SI is sleeping use where care or detention is provided, such as care home or hospital.

The combustibility of some common material types are described in Appendix C7.1.3 of Acceptable Solution and Verification Method C/VM1 & C/AS1 Amendment 4 [PDF 951 KB]

As an alternative to the above, a cladding system can be used for any building, irrespective of its height if it has passed the fire-testing criteria within National Fire Protection Association NFPA 285 (Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components).

NFPA 285 can be found on the National Fire Protection Association website.

Further information

It is important to note that the Amendment 4 requirement differs from Verification Method C/VM2. The VM or a performance-based method can be used as an alternative way to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code.

Note that until 30 May 2017 the previous version (Amendment 3) of the Acceptable Solution could be used to demonstrate compliance with Building Code clauses C1–C6 Protection from Fire, and for building consent applications submitted before 31 May 2017.

Building Control Update 206 has a summary of all other NZBC Part C Acceptable Solution Amendment 4 changes.

For further details please contact:

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LBP knowledge link

LBP Registrar update (Codewords 77)

Welcome to the second edition of Codewords for 2017.

Paul HobbsPaul Hobbs

In this issue we’ve included articles related to regulatory matters, a notable decision passed down by the Building Practitioners Board, and a profile on Richie Powell – the first roofer on the licensed building practitioner (LBP) register.

Since implementing the new skills maintenance programme we have received a number of enquiries about on-the-job learning, and our first article will help make the system clearer.

Our second article provides a brief summary of prescribed electrical work (PEW) and who can and cannot do it. PEW is similar to restricted building work (RBW) in that there is a legal limitation on who can perform it. This limitation is a very important component of any occupational licensing regime as it underpins consumer and practitioner protection, confidence and safety.

I recommend you read our article on the recent significant penalty decision by the Building Practitioners Board, which they decided to publicise because of the seriousness of the matter. It’s a good reminder of how important it is for LBPs to have a thorough understanding of Schedule 1 of the Building Act.

MBIE recently pursued a case against Auckland builder Blair Cole. Mr Cole, who trades as Akoranga Construction Ltd, ran numerous advertisements in local papers claiming to be an LBP. He also used the LBP logo on his business cards and elsewhere despite never holding an LBP licence. He was convicted in January 2017 of two charges of falsely claiming to be an LBP, resulting in a $5,000 fine and an order to pay court costs and $1,296 in reparation.

If you are aware of individuals operating in a similar manner or you have knowledge of people who are undertaking RBW without being licensed please let us know.

Complain about someone doing or supervising RBW without a licence or email us at

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Know your stuff: On-the-job learning for LBPs

As more licensed building practitioners (LBPs) transition into the new skills maintenance system introduced in November 2015, we are receiving more queries about the on-the-job learning component of the LBP scheme. It is important LBPs have a good understanding of this, so we’ve put together information to explain how on-the-job learning works.

Article is relevant to all LBP licence classes.


By way of a reminder, on-the-job learning was introduced as a simple method of recording naturally occurring learning that has taken place during your everyday work on-site or in the design office. Many LBPs are practical people and learn by doing, rather than by sitting in a classroom. The LBP licence class competencies have been written to reflect this, requiring action and the application of a skill in order to demonstrate understanding. For example, requiring LBPs to construct, install, fabricate, prepare, fix, set out or erect by way of ‘performance indicators’.

Where do I start?

The following table provides some useful pointers and questions you might wish to consider to recognise and harness on-the-job-learnings.

Question Guidance Examples
Have I done anything lately that extended my knowledge base or tested my thinking in relation to my work? If you have come up against a new and/or complex task that caused you to take stock and read the plans several times before launching into a particular task then this might be a good example of on-the-job learning.
  • Prepare, set out and construct a complex engineered foundation system
  • Design or construct a fire-rated, sound-rated and diaphragm ceiling
  • Design or construct a house in an extra-high or specific engineering design wind zone
  • Fix a new drained and ventilated wall cladding system
  • Install a new roofing profile
Have I used a new product, material or method of construction lately? Often new products require you to review plans, specifications or product literature. You may even contact the manufacturer for guidance on how to install the product. This is a valid example of learning that can be used to meet this requirement. This could be in the design office or on-site.
  • Install a new bracing system (eg wall, ceiling, floor)
  • Prepare deck framing for a new proprietary balustrade system (eg new fixings, strapping blocking and joist layout to accommodate the balustrade)
  • Fit a new insulation product
Have I attended a trade talk or ‘builders’ breakfast’ where a new product, material or regulatory requirement has been presented? If you have attended a trade talk and later used the product or practice in question this is an example of on-the-job learning.
  • Install a new window and flashing system
  • Fix ‘Grade E mesh’ in a raft slab
  • Fit a new generation ‘internal vapour management’ or ‘airtightness system’
  • Comply with a new health and safety requirement on-site
Have I failed a council building inspection that caused me to revisit a piece of work? A failed inspection or request for information (RFI) can lead to a legitimate learning.
  • Remove and replace non-compliant flashings
  • Answer an RFI (eg design a junction detail between two dissimilar cladding types)
  • Install additional brick ties to comply with consented drawings
  • Adjust cavity construction to comply with the Building Code
I don’t work on the tools anymore. How do I meet this requirement? Supervision, site management, interpreting drawings and applying learnings on regulatory compliance can all be utilised by those who are no longer actively working on the tools.
  • Implementing the 2015 consumer protection measures (completing disclosure and contract requirements for the first time)
  • Mentoring/supervising staff when they are installing a new product or method on site
  • Running site safety training sessions – implement a new health and safety requirement
  • Learning about and then inspecting the installation of a new product or method of construction (eg recent changes to NZS 4223 for barriers, passive build, SED foundation, alternative solution)
  • Providing on-site technical guidance about some building work using a new product or method of construction that you were previously unfamiliar with

How do I keep track of my learning?

On-the-job-learning is not about creating more administrative work for you. Rather it is about harvesting learning opportunities that arise during your everyday work. Here are some handy ways of keeping track of what you’ve learned:

  • Go to and either:
    • download, complete and submit the Record of Learning form
    • submit your learning activity through the LBP portal
  • Provide a relevant record of work or certificate of design as evidence.
  • Take a photo (this is an easy way to create a record to file later).
  • Use one of the industry-led apps to record your activities – these are widely available.


1. Why was on-the-job-learning introduced in 2015?

a. So that legitimate learning occurring on the job can be easily captured.
b. So your boss can keep tabs on you.
c. To increase the administrative burden of being an LBP.

2. Does on-the-job-learning only relate to technical competence?

a. Yes.
b. No. It can also relate to health and safety, regulatory knowledge and any other relevant part of performing your role.

3. Where can I learn more about on-the-job learning?

a. In the builders’ omnibus 2017.
b. On or contact the MBIE service centre on 0800 24 22 43.
c. In the Dominion Post or the New Zealand Herald.

4. Can I use a record of work or certificate of design as evidence of doing something new where I have learnt something?

a. Yes, simply retain the record as evidence.
b. No, neither can be used.
c. Maybe, but it depends if I have a site licence or not.

Check your answers

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Can LBPs do prescribed electrical work?

Prescribed electrical work (PEW) is very similar to restricted building work (RBW). However, while LBPs will be very familiar with RBW, it’s important you also know the rules around PEW.

Article relevant to: Carpentry, Site, External Plastering, Brick & Block Laying.

While the focus for RBW is on residential work (for example, the construction of a new small to medium sized home), PEW covers a wider range of work including commercial and telecommunications.

No one can carry out PEW unless they are a licensed electrical worker. There is an owner-exemption for PEW that states that you can only do some types of electrical work without a licence if you are the owner of premises and that you will occupy those premises as a residence for you and members of your family.

This means that you can only carry out PEW if you are a licensed electrical worker or are operating under the above owner-exemption. This is similar for LBPs as well.

What can homeowners do?

Work that can be done by the owner of the premises is listed in Regulation 57 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 and includes:

  • removing and replacing fuse links
  • connecting and disconnecting permanently wired appliances
  • moving switches, sockets and lighting outlets, but only if they are wired with tough, plastic-sheathed cables
  • replacing switches, socket outlets, light fittings, ceiling roses, water heater switches, thermostats and elements.

Before you do any work yourself, however, you need to make sure that you are familiar with Electrical Code of Practice 51 on the WorkSafe website.

Other than these exempt tasks, doing it yourself or having electrical work done by unlicensed tradespeople is not only unsafe, but illegal and you could be fined (if convicted) up to $10,000 if you:

  • do PEW while not licensed to do so
  • cause, intend to cause, or may reasonably cause any other person to believe that you are licensed to do PEW
  • hold yourself or your company out as being licensed to do PEW.

What can you do on the building site?

If you need to use an electrical worker, you should check that they are licensed. You can check the public register for electrical workers or ask to see the electrical worker’s licence card before work starts. Having a current practising licence means that your electrical worker is up to date on current safety procedures and has access to electrical standards.

When work is finished, ask for a Certificate of Compliance and Electrical Safety Certificate. Electrical workers are required by law to certify particular work. The certification is a public assurance that the work has been carried out by an authorised person and that it complies with the safety requirements.

You can find out if an electrical worker is registered or licensed on the Electrical Workers Registration Board website.


1) What is the similarity between prescribed electrical work and restricted building work?

a. They are both required to be carried out by appropriately licensed people.
b. You would encounter them both on a new small to medium residential construction project.
c. There are exemptions in both regulations for owners of properties to carry out work.
d. All of the above.

2) When can an LBP carry out prescribed electrical work?

a. When no one else is looking.
b. Only if they are a licensed electrical worker or are working under the exemption.
c. Only if they provide a record of work for the prescribed electrical work.

3) What are the risks if an unlicensed person carried out prescribed electrical work?

a. It is illegal and the work may be unsafe.
b. They will be given a Certificate of Compliance.
c. There are no problems if an LBP does prescribed electrical work.

Check your answers

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LBP profile on Richie Powell

In 1982 Richie Powell had just left school with aspirations of becoming a plumber. Instead, he became a roofer and, a few years later, the first roofer on the licensed building practitioner (LBP) register.

Richie PowellRichie Powell

Starting at commercial construction company Project Unite 26 years ago, Richie has worked his way up the ranks to become a supervisor.

He is a firm believer in the LBP scheme, and not just because he was the first roofer on the register.
“Being an LBP has benefited my role tremendously. I manage a team of 35 roofers each day and oversee our many sites. From the outset Project Unite bought into the LBP scheme and was focused on having site and admin staff qualified.

“Being licensed not only offers an added element of confidence to our clients, it also gives further assurance to our foremen and other site staff,” Richie adds.

As well as managing a team, Richie puts a lot of time into mentoring and training the next generation. He says roofing has become more complex due to changes in design and increasing expectations from the end-user.

“We have an in-house module where we have staff construct and install the various roofing and cladding items together with the needed rainwater solutions,” he says.

As well as Richie advocating for licensing in the profession, his own association, the Roofing Association of New Zealand (RANZ), is behind the scheme too.

“RANZ is a solid advocate of the need for licensing of our trade. Through our network with the LBP scheme, the information and sharing of knowledge has definitely improved the quality of our end product.”

When Richie isn’t on a roof or overseeing his staff, he can be found spending time with his family or out on the water fishing.

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Notable decision against a carpentry LBP

The Building Practitioners Board (the Board) recently passed down a sanction to an LBP. The Board has chosen to name the LBP due to the seriousness of the matter.

In decision number C2-01409, Grant Tromp, an LBP licensed in carpentry, was contracted by a home owner to carry out alterations and to build an extension on an existing house. Mr Tromp did not obtain a building consent for the work and failed to carry out the building work to an appropriate standard, resulting in him being disciplined and his licence cancelled.

The Board upheld two grounds for discipline:

  • negligence or incompetence – failing to comply with building consent requirements, and building work
  • working outside one’s competence.

Negligence or incompetence – failing to comply with building consent requirements

Mr Tromp was initially engaged under a ‘design and build’ contract to carry out renovations to a kitchen area. Because he thought Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 (building work that does not require a building consent) applied to the work, he did not think a building consent was required. Mr Tromp subsequently provided the home owner with other concept plans and was then also engaged to extend and enclose an existing porch into a new room.

However, a building consent was required for the kitchen renovation because the hot water cylinder and associated plumbing work was not exempt under Schedule 1 (see page 89 of the ‘Building work that does not require a building consent’ guidance). The extension and porch enclosure also required a building consent because it was also not covered by any of the exemptions in Schedule 1 (see page 50 of the guidance).

The Board found that Mr Tromp was negligent in that he did not obtain a building consent for this work as required under the Building Act 2004.

Building work that does not require a building consent

Negligence or incompetence – building work

There were significant concerns with the construction of the extension and enclosure and the Board found that Mr Tromp failed to comply with both the Building Code and NZS 3604:2011 (the relevant standard).

There were significant shortcomings with the flashing and joinery installation, which was not weathertight. Sill flashings had been left out and only sealant had been used to waterproof cladding junctions. The roof framing and subfloor framing construction were not within the scope of NZS 3604:2011 because the spans used were too large for the framing members installed. An engineer should have been engaged, or different construction methods should have been used.

The Board found that Mr Tromp had also been negligent with respect to the work he carried out in the extension.

Working outside one’s competence

Mr Tromp was an LBP licensed in carpentry. He did not think the work required a building consent and, as such, he thought it was not restricted building work. He therefore undertook the design as well. He said he purposely designed the extension and enclosure of the porch to fit within Schedule 1. Mr Tromp did not draw his construction details from Acceptable Solutions or other tried and tested construction methods. The design and construction details used by Mr Tromp did not comply with the Building Code.

Ultimately, the Board found that he worked outside his competence when he carried out the design work. A competent designer would have ensured better construction design and elements were used in the extension and would have identified that building consent was required for the work undertaken.

What we can learn from this decision

Failure to correctly interpret Schedule 1 was a major part of the process breakdown in this circumstance. If a building consent had been obtained, the compliance process would have identified the design deficiencies and they would have been corrected. As this decision clearly illustrates, carpenters and other trades should not take on the role of designer.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has produced guidance on Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 that is worth reading if you are considering undertaking exempt building work. Remember that if you are in doubt as to whether the intended building work will come within Schedule 1 or not it is best to seek advice from an authoritative source.

Building work that does not require a building consent has further information.

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Protect your business from invoicing scams

The New Zealand building industry is being targeted by an invoice fraud scam.

Scammers are gaining access to trade businesses’ email accounts, finding recently sent invoices and updating these with the scammers’ own payment bank account numbers. These fraudulent invoices are then resent to the client for payment.

Update and check the security of your email accounts by:

  • changing your passwords regularly
  • using all the authentication tools available – you can set up multifactor authentication for your password with a set of identity questions
  • keeping track of how many devices are connected to your email account, eg home laptop, work laptop, mobile phones
  • logging out at the end of each day.

Scamwatch on the Consumer Protection website contains further information on how to avoid falling victim to fraud.

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Recent determinations

Determination 2017/006 – Summary

Determination 2017/006 concerns the refusal to issue a building consent for the change of use from commercial to residential of part of one level in a multi-level building.

The determination considers the assessment required under section 115 when there is a change of use to only part of a building, particularly in respect of Building Code clause B1 Structure, and whether a detailed seismic assessment (DSA) is required for the whole building.


The six-storey-high building is constructed predominantly of cast in-situ reinforced concrete, with concrete floor slabs supported on two-way reinforced concrete moment frames. The existing uses of the ground level under the Change of Use Regulations were classified as crowd activities. The building work proposed to change the use of the level to uses that are classified under sleeping activities.

An initial evaluation procedure (IEP) carried out by structural engineers reported the building was not potentially earthquake-prone and had a National Building Standard (NBS) of less than 67 per cent.

The building consent authority (BCA) refused to grant a building consent to convert the educational facility to six apartments, on the basis that it required a detailed seismic assessment for the entire building and proof that the building has a structural performance level of 80 per cent NBS or more.


The conversion of the ground level constitutes a change of use to which section 115(a) applies. The BCA’s approach was that the change of use required a structural assessment of the entire building.
In a previous determination (2015/070), where a change of use to the top level of a multi-level was proposed, the conclusion was reached that the levels below effectively acted as the foundation to that unit. It was determined that structural strength/serviceability of the levels below the subject unit needed to be included in the structural assessment to check if they were sufficient to meet the performance requirements of clause B1.

In this determination, the proposed change of use and alterations were limited to the ground floor only, and therefore the ground level and the foundations that support it, including the basement level, required assessment.

The determination discussed the ‘as nearly as is reasonably practicable’ (ANARP) test, concluding that the cost of a DSA and any work associated with the structural upgrade of the whole building would be disproportionate to the cost of the proposed building work. However, the IEP had identified that there was a lack of seismic gaps between the moment frames and block infill partition throughout the building and steps to address the lack of separation could be considered reasonably practicable.

The determination discussed the requirements of section 112(b) for the alterations that could be proposed. Section 112(b) requires that the building work carried out must not reduce the level of compliance of other parts of the building, and in this case installing seismic separation at the ground level but not at higher levels would introduce a non-uniformity of stiffness and concentrate earthquake deformation at the ground level. Therefore, the structural alterations would likely reduce the earthquake resistance of the building as a whole and this does not meet the test of section 112(b).

The decision

The determination found the BCA incorrectly exercised its powers of decision in refusing to grant the building consent on that basis of requiring a DSA for the whole building. The BCA’s decision was reversed, requiring a new decision be made taking into account the analysis set out in the determination.

Determination 2017/006 in full.

Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.

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Determination 2016/046 – Summary

Determination 2016/046 discusses the compliance of composite slate roofing tiles that were substituted for concrete tiles and whether the product substitution was a minor variation or required an amendment.

The determination considered whether the building consent authority (BCA) correctly exercised its power of decision in refusing to amend the building consent and whether the slate tiles complied with the relevant Building Code clauses. The question was also raised as to whether the product substitution was a minor variation and an amended plan need not have been applied for, and subsequently a code compliance certificate (CCC) could be issued.

The building work and background

The house is a single-storey residential house in a medium wind zone, with a 29° pitch hipped and gabled roof that was originally consented with concrete tiles.

The developer applied for an amendment to substitute the concrete roof tiles with the slate tiles. The slate tiles are manufactured in the United Kingdom and have been supplied in New Zealand for three years. The BCA requested a CodeMark certificate or BRANZ appraisal for the slate tiles to support the amendment application. While no appraisal was provided to the BCA, the roofing company provided the manufacturer’s certification and other information, which was deemed insufficient by the BCA to establish compliance. Even though no amendment was issued, the house was completed with the roof clad in slate tiles, with inspections passed by the BCA.

When the developer applied for a CCC, the BCA requested further information to establish compliance of the slate tiles. The BCA refused to issue the CCC because the information requested was not supplied and the amendment to consent had not been issued.


The BCA did not issue the amendment as it believed it did not have reasonable grounds on which to be satisfied that the tiles, as installed, would comply with the Building Code. Further information was provided during the determination process and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) concluded that the slate tiles complied with the relevant clauses: B1, B2, E2 and E3. However, MBIE determined that the BCA correctly exercised its powers in refusing to grant the amendment as it did not have sufficient information before it at the time.

During the determination the question arose as to whether the product substitution required an amendment to the consent or if it was a minor variation. If a variation is minor then an applicant can apply to amend the building consent and the amendment does not need to be in a prescribed form, and does not require the BCA to issue an amended consent – the minor variation needs only to be recorded in writing. Therefore, if the substitution was compliant with the Building Code and considered to be a minor variation, the amendment would not have been required and this would remove the BCA’s outstanding issue in refusing to issue the CCC.

A minor variation is a minor modification, addition, or variation to a building consent that does not deviate significantly from the plans and specifications to which the building consent relates. MBIE concluded that a minor variation by way of recording the product substitution was not appropriate in this case because the tiles were relatively novel in terms of their composition, there was a different means to establish compliance from the approved concrete tiles, and there was reliance on overseas certification to support their compliance with the Building Code. MBIE concluded that the building consent required an amendment to remove the concrete tiles, and that as the composite slate tiles had been installed, a certificate of acceptance for that work only would need to be applied for.

The decision

The determination confirmed that the BCA was correct to refuse to amend the building consent based on the information before it at the time it made its decision, and that there were reasonable grounds to conclude the roofing system, as installed, complied with the relevant clauses of the Building Code.

Determination 2016/046 in full.

Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.

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Previous issues

About Codewords: Our Codewords newsletter is published six times a year. It will keep you up to date on the latest regulatory and related information for the building and construction industry.

Codewords issues are available for two years after their publish date. If the issue you are looking for is older, please contact us.

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: