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Determination 2017/019

Posted: 27 July 2017

Determination 2017/019 considers whether proposed alterations to a school toilet block, with a reduced number of toilets, will comply with the Building Code to the extent required by section 112. The determination discusses the tests under section 112(1)(b) in regard to a reduction in the level of performance achieved in the existing building.

Background

The proposed alterations involved a classroom block and an adjacent toilet block that contained a storage room. The existing toilet block included four toilets, and three basins. The proposed alteration to the toilet block was to reduce the number of toilets from four to two to allow a wall to be constructed to increase the size of the classrooms.

The building consent authority (BCA) did not accept this proposal, so the agent amended the plans. The BCA granted this consent, but the agent wished to confirm that the initial proposal of two toilets would comply with the Building Code.

Discussion

The determination considered that it is appropriate to consider the complex as a whole, and the number of toilets provided within it to establish compliance of the toilet block. The Building Code does not require every building in a school complex to include toilets – it is sufficient if the complex as a whole contains an adequate number of toilets in convenient locations.

The dispute rested on the interpretation of section 112(1)(b) and the two different tests in 112(1)(b)(i) and (ii). The test in section 112(1)(b)(i) requires that after the alteration the building will to continue to comply with the provisions of the Building Code, if the building complied prior to building work being carried out. This part only applies if prior to alterations the building complied with the Building Code, and in this instance had an adequate number of toilets to comply with Clause G1.

The test in section 112(1)(b)(ii) only applies if the building prior to the alterations does not comply with the requirements of the Building Code. In that case it must comply to at least the same extent after the new work as it did before. In this instance, this would apply if the number of toilets were not adequate to meet the Building Code, so the building work could not reduce the level of performance, i.e. the number of toilets.

Therefore, the first consideration in applying section 112(1)(b) must be whether or not the building prior to the alterations complied with the provisions of the Building Code, in this case Clause G1.
In this instance, the number of toilets in the school complex, prior to building work being carried out, exceeded the level required by the Building Code, and the test under section 112(1)(b)(i) was applicable. The proposed removal of two toilets, while leading to a lesser level of performance, did not reduce the overall toilet numbers below that required by the Building Code.

The determination concluded that the building exceeded the compliance requirements and there is nothing in the Act to prevent a reduction in the level of compliance, i.e. fewer toilets, as long as the building still complies with the provisions of the Building Code.

Decision

The determination concluded that the proposed alteration to reduce the number of personal hygiene facilities in the toilet block to two toilets complied with Clause G1 of the Building Code to the extent required by section 112 of the Act.

Determination 2017/019 in full.

Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.

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