Know your responsibilities as a builder

Posted: 28 November 2017

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Under the Building Act 2004 people who take part in building work have certain responsibilities.
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Some of these responsibilities are highlighted under sections 14A–14F of the Act to ensure that if you take part in building work, you are responsible for your part of the project.
There are sections for different parties – from owners, designers, builders, through to building consent authorities. This article takes a brief look at builders’ responsibilities.

Who is a builder?

Section 14E applies to builders. It states that a builder includes anyone carrying out building work, regardless of whether or not they are in trade. The following would all be considered builders as they are all doing building work:

  • an owner-builder doing restricted building work (RBW) under an owner-builder exemption they received from the council
  • an external plasterer’s apprentice
  • a fully-fledged licensed building practitioner (LBP) carpenter

Builders’ responsibilities

A builder has two responsibilities under section 14E:

  1. to ensure that the building work complies with the building consent and any consented plans and specifications
  2. to ensure that any building work not covered by a building consent still complies with the Building Code.

This means that if you’re doing building work, you need to make sure that it complies with any consent requirements such as inspections, natural hazards or resource management conditions. You need to follow the consented plans and specifications, and have them amended or varied if you need to deviate from them.

As always, if you’re undertaking exempt building work, it needs to comply with the Building Code. This is made clear in section 17 of the Act, which states that “all building work must comply with the Building Code”.

While the owner (or someone they contract to act as their agent) is responsible for obtaining a building consent before starting building work (covered in section 14B for owners), LBPs can be disciplined for carrying out work where a building consent was required but not obtained.

LBP responsibilities

An LBP has additional responsibilities when they are a builder under the Act. An LBP is also required to ensure:

  1. that any RBW is carried out or supervised as required by the Act
  2. they are licensed to carry out or supervise the RBW they are undertaking.

Section 14E clearly states overarching builder responsibilities in one place. In addition, for LBPs, the grounds for discipline are set out in section 317, and other sections of the Act also state that you need to be licensed to carry out or supervise RBW.

If you, as an LBP, don’t follow the responsibilities set out in section 14E or the other requirements of the Act, you could be disciplined by the Building Practitioners Board or you could even be committing an offence that could lead to prosecution.

You can read more about exempt building work in previous issues of Codewords.


1) Who is responsible for obtaining a building consent?

a. Any licensed building practitioner working on a new build.
b. It’s the local council’s job to make sure you get one.
c. The home owner needs to obtain one before starting building work.
d. All building work is exempt building work as long as it complies with the Building Code.

2) Who can carry out restricted building work?

a. Licensed building practitioners and owner-builders who are working under an owner-builder exemption.
b. Anyone who works as a builder.
c. Licensed building practitioners.

3) As a builder, where does it say that I have to build in accordance with the Building Code?

a. The Licensed Building Practitioners Rules 2007.
b. In a few sections of the Building Act 2004, including section 14E.
c. Section 88 of the Building Act 2004.
d. Only in section 17 of the Building Act 2004.

Check 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: