Codewords Issue 83

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29 March 2018

In this issue:

Welcome to Codewords Issue 83

Three months in to 2018 and MBIE’s Building System Performance branch is well underway with its comprehensive work programme to deliver on Government commitments and sector requirements, including KiwiBuild goals.

The work BSP is doing to support KiwiBuild should also deliver reforms to the building regulatory system that will improve its effectiveness and efficiency. The only way we can successfully deliver our programme of work is working collaboratively with you, the sector. 

Part of working with the sector is the advice we get from our Building Advisory Panel. The panel had its first meeting for the year earlier this month. The 11 panel members have a wide range of experience and knowledge and provide MBIE with independent strategic advice about issues facing the construction sector. The panel is particularly interested in working with MBIE on skills and efficient consenting – two of seven priority areas for BSP in 2018. The other five areas are occupational regulation reform; rebalancing risk, responsibility and liability; a products review; smarter compliance pathways; and a review of the Building Levy. 

MBIE recognises a skills strategy for the building and construction sector is a top priority for our Minister to address capacity and capability issues in the construction workforce. There is a particular focus on developing a workforce capable of delivering KiwiBuild goals. The type of skills needed in this space could look quite different to the current mix in the sector – to build at the scale and speed required for KiwiBuild will require new ways of working.  The building and construction sector has a role to play here and MBIE has been and will continue engaging with the sector on this important work. 

You will have seen a lot of commentary recently about how prefabrication could support KiwiBuild goals. Prefab NZ held a conference in March, with attendees hearing from both Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa and Housing Minister Phil Twyford, as well as other speakers. The conference provided a lot to think about, particularly on compliance – and all attendees received a copy of MBIE’s Pathways to compliance chart.

The chart supports the industry to better understand how CodeMark and MulitProof can be used to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code. This work sits in our efficient consenting priority, where we are identifying different approaches to building consent and ways to support new and innovative ways of building.

Easter’s almost here, so enjoy the break if you’re having one – hopefully we’ll get a few more days of sun in before autumn arrives in full.

Anna Butler

Anna Butler

GM, Building System Performance

Code and technical changes

MBIE publishes Fire safety design guide for residential community housing

Building Controls Update 229

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On 28 March 2018, MBIE published the Fire safety design guide for residential community housing. The document provides guidance for community housing providers, fire engineers and building consent authorities when an alternative solution is used to demonstrate Building Code compliance.

This guidance was developed following stakeholder feedback on the 2012 edition of revised Fire Safety Acceptable Solutions C/AS1-7. The 2012 amendments to the Building Code and supporting fire compliance documents resulted in changes to the performance settings for treatment of residential community housing. These types of homes were classified with the same fire safety provisions as a hospital or prison.

Stakeholders noted this provided a ‘one size fits all’ approach, without considering the differing levels of care and mobility of occupants in residential community housing and their ability to self-evacuate in the event of a fire.

The intention is for the design guide to be used as an alternative solution framework for fire safety design of new residential community housing. It will help building consent authorities to determine a baseline level of fire safety compliance, taking specific occupant characteristics and their vulnerabilities into account.

This guidance was jointly developed by MBIE, the Ministry of Health, New Zealand Fire Service, Housing New Zealand, Community Housing Aotearoa, New Zealand Disability Support Network, Disabled Persons Assembly NZ and a building control officer representative.

Public consultation on the proposed guidance document took place from 17 July to 11 September 2017.

Fire safety design guide for residential community housing has further information.

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MBIE to issue loop bar warning and publish B1/VM1 Amendment 16

On 3 April 2018 MBIE will issue a warning about the use of loop bar details in flange-hung double-tee precast concrete floor units, and publish an amendment to Verification Method B1/VM1.

The warning and amendment are part of MBIE’s response to the investigation into the performance of Statistics House in the 14 November 2016 Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes and recommendations from the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.

Loop bar hanger in precast double-tee unitLoop bar hanger in precast double-tee unit.

Loop bar warning

In 2016, MBIE commissioned an independent expert inquiry into Statistics House’s earthquake performance to determine the implications for New Zealand’s building regulatory system. The inquiry found the performance of the loop bar detail contributed to one of the four factors that led to the floor collapses in the building.

Public consultation on a proposal to ban the use of loop bar details in flange-hung double-tee precast concrete flooring took place from 27 September to 20 November 2017. After analysing consultation submissions, MBIE decided the most appropriate regulatory measure to prevent the use of non-compliant loop bar details was to issue a warning under section 26 of the Building Act.

A warning is appropriate for the following reasons:

  • the loop bar detail is rarely used and a warning is proportionate to the level of risk
  • a warning is consistent with New Zealand’s performance-based Building Code system

In addition to the warning, the amendments to B1/VM1 will also improve the resilience of precast concrete floors in new buildings.

The warning comes into force on 3 April 2018. From this date building consent authorities (BCAs) and territorial authorities must take the warning into consideration when deciding whether a new consent application complies with the Building Code.

The warning only applies to building consent applications and does not mean that existing buildings with loop bar details are unsafe. The expected performance of loop bar details depends on a number of other building design and construction characteristics. If building owners are concerned that their building may have potential issues they should seek advice from a structural engineer or discuss their concerns with their BCA.

MBIE is currently working with industry experts to develop additional guidance to assist engineering practitioners in the seismic assessment of precast floor systems.

Loop bar warning (2018/001)

Verification Method B1/VM1 Amendment 16

Amendment 16 to B1/VM1 will also take effect on 3 April 2018. It includes:

  • an updated reference to the New Zealand Concrete Structures Standard NZS 3101.1:2006 Amendment 3  
  • updated requirements to the citation of the New Zealand Steel Structures Standard NZS 3404.1:1997.

The amendments ensure that the latest performance requirements are provided as a means of compliance.

The latest version of the Concrete Structures Standard includes enhanced provisions for the design of precast floors, which, in combination with the warning on loop bar details, will make these types of floors safer. 

Both B1/VM1 amendments 15 and 16 will be accepted as a means of compliance during the three-month transition period from 3 April to 30 June 2018. After the transition period, only amendment 16 will be accepted.

Please note an exception has been made regarding the use of cast iron anchors and couplers, which will continue to be compliant under B1/VM1 amendment 16 until 1 November 2018. This will allow for continuity of anchor/coupler supply by giving manufacturers extra time to stock up on alternative couplers and anchors. 

 Verification Method B1/VM1 Amendment 16 

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Natural hazard determinations involving inundation

MBIE issued three determinations in 2017 relating to natural hazards. This article looks at some of the common issues that arise about inundation.

The Building Act states that, except in certain circumstances, a building consent authority (BCA) must refuse to grant a building consent for a new building or major alteration if:

  • the land is subject to one or more natural hazards; or
  • the building work is likely to accelerate, worsen or result in a natural hazard.

The natural hazard provisions apply only to major alterations or the construction of new buildings. The Building Act does not define ‘major alteration’ but determinations have identified some useful criteria for deciding what constitutes a major alteration.

Determination 2017/055 has more detail. 

The Act identifies the natural hazards, such as erosion and subsidence, but doesn’t state the level of an event to which the natural hazard provisions of the Act apply. 

In general, land is considered subject to a natural hazard when the hazard is more than minimal or trivial. Previous determinations have established, for example, a 1 per cent Annual Exceedance Probability rainfall event (commonly referred to as a 100-year flood event) is an appropriate level when considering inundation caused by rainfall and surface water flow.  

Section 71(2) allows BCAs to grant building consents for new buildings or major alterations on land subject to a natural hazard, subject to the BCA being satisfied that there is adequate provision made to:

  • “(a) protect the land, building work, or other property [where relevant] from the natural hazard …; or
  • (b) restore any damage to that land or other property as a result of the building work.”

These conditions give rise to certain questions. For example, is it only the building work that needs to be protected? However, the Court of Appeal interpreted 71(2)(a) as requiring the protection of land and the building work, and (where relevant) other property. Restoration may be required in some cases.

The Court of Appeal and determinations have concluded ‘adequate provision to protect the land’ means providing an adequate level of protection but does not mean eliminating the natural hazard. The level of protection required is a question of degree and a BCA is expected to take a common-sense approach. 

For example, in relation to inundation, determining the level of protection required to satisfy section 71(2) should take into account factors such as maximum depth, velocity, frequency of occurrence, and likely effects on the land. The level of protection required for land is likely to be less than for protecting buildings (unless there is significant risk of erosion causing loss of support for the building). 

Determinations have also considered what ‘adequate provision to protect the building work’ means, concluding that achieving compliance with the Building Code will meet this requirement. 

While these determinations are case-specific, the analysis of the natural hazard provisions included in the determinations provides useful guidance for other similar circumstances. 

Inundation determinations:

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New earthquake-prone building resources now available

New resources are now available online for building owners affected by earthquake-prone building (EPB) legislation, council staff responsible for identifying and making decisions on potentially EPBs, and engineers responsible for assessing potentially EPBs.

On 28 February 2018 MBIE launched a new online learning site (

There are four modules currently available:

  • Identify (identifying potentially earthquake-prone buildings)
  • Assess (assessing potentially earthquake-prone buildings)
  • Decide (deciding if buildings are earthquake prone)
  • Building owners (understanding your responsibilities under the new system).

The Identify and Decide modules are interactive, with opportunities to test knowledge and understanding. They are a refresher for building officials and engineers who previously attended workshops, and a training supplement for others.

Assess guides engineers through the assessment process and reporting requirements in the EPB methodology, including the requirement to consider parts.

The module for building owners guides them through the process that occurs if they are notified their building may be earthquake prone.

The online learning site has been developed to supplement face-to-face workshops by offering, accessible and flexible learning on building legislation and regulations. Learners can access the website from work or home at a time that is convenient to them.

It is expected more modules will be added to the site over the next 12 months, which will appeal to a wider audience.

learning.building. has the modules and further information – you will need a Real Me account to log in.

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Engineers trained for emergency response

In March MBIE held training sessions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch for geo-professionals on how to assess geo-hazards as part of a civil defence emergency response.

Under civil defence legislation, MBIE has a responsibility to coordinate training and qualification of professionals able to assess buildings during and after an emergency. 

Just over 90 geo-professionals completed the training to qualify as rapid building assessors. They will join about 400 structural engineers, building control officers and senior architects already on the MBIE register qualified to carry out assessments.  

Rapid building assessments are a brief evaluation of individual buildings and their immediate surrounds for damage, usability and hazards exposure. The goal is to assess immediate risk to public safety. When carrying out these assessments, land instability and geotechnical hazards also need to be considered. 

The day-long training sessions quickly filled up and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. In particular, participants valued the 'street cred' of presenters Paul Campbell (structural engineer) and Rori Green (geotechnical engineer) who were able to share their stories from the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquake response, and Nelson floods. 

Ensuring building assessors have essential training and tools, is just one piece of the important work MBIE does to support building management in an emergency. 

Programme Manager Justine Crawford says the next big deliverables are a guidance document to help territorial authorities set up and run a building emergency management operation and making sure MBIE is ready to fulfil its legal obligations if an event occurs.  

“Building management in an emergency requires having co-ordinated readiness, response, and recovery arrangements in place that involve territorial authorities, CDEM Groups, agencies (including MBIE), building owners and building professionals," Justine says. "This will ensure everyone is ready when a significant emergency occurs.”

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Summary report of 2015-2017 technical reviews of councils

MBIE has released the summary of the 2015-2017 technical review programme of 23 councils, which it undertook from July 2015 to 30 June 2017.

The reviews primarily focused on how councils undertook some of their statutory territorial authority responsibilities under the Building Act 2004. These were in relation to:

  • amending compliance schedules (not captured by the building consent process)
  • enforcing the building warrant of fitness (BWoF) system via on-site audits, notices to fix (NTFs) and infringement notices.

In addition, the opportunity was taken to observe and assess the quality of installed passive fire systems (eg smoke/fire separations).

Summary of key issues across councils

Territorial authority versus BCA functions

Councils tend to focus on their building consent authority (BCA) functions over their territorial authority functions – as a result territorial authority functions are often under-resourced and under-funded. A consequence of this is evident in the number of compliance schedules that are non-compliant – 16 of 23 councils stated they had backlogs of 22-100 per cent of compliance schedules that needed to be amended.

Administration and enforcement of BWoF provisions

Of the 23 councils, 15 had been underperforming in relation to the administration and enforcement of the BWoF provisions. MBIE decided follow-up action would be necessary to monitor progress in implementing the review recommendations (including revisits to several councils).

Compliance schedule information at building consent stage

Building consent applicants/designers were providing generic and insufficient information about specified systems and the inspection, maintenance and reporting (IMR) procedures.

Policies and procedures for BWoFs

Most councils either had no documented policies and procedures or they needed updating for BWoFs and amending compliance schedules.

On-site audits

Of the 23 councils:

  • seven did not undertake on-site audits, or so few audits were undertaken that this activity could be considered non-existent
  • 16 did undertake site audits, however:
    • three limited the audits to an on-site paper-based check only
    • five councils had, in MBIE’s view, unacceptably long periods between audits.

Joint council/MBIE on-site audits were carried out with all 23 councils, and in almost all instances the audits revealed issues requiring council follow-up action.


Some of the councils did not use NTFs or infringement notices as a building control tool to achieve compliance for BWoF matters and compliance schedules.

Certificates of public use

Certificates of public use (CPUs) remained in place for unacceptably long periods of time. Of the 23 councils, four had high occupancy community facilities (eg library, aquatic centre, theatre), some council-owned, which have operated for several years under a CPU.

Access to compliance schedules

A compliance schedule is relevant for the life of a building and states the required IMR procedures. It is a key document for several parties, particularly independent qualified persons (IQPs) who do the maintenance and inspections of the building’s specified systems.

MBIE is aware of cases where IQPs have never seen or referred to the relevant compliance schedule, despite requests to the building owner to provide one.

MBIE working with councils

The purpose of the technical review report is to continually identify and encourage best practice of the BWoF scheme. MBIE remains confident that there will be an improvement, and is aware some recommendations are actively being worked on now. MBIE has a programme of reviews of councils, and works with them to follow up the recommendations.

Summary of the 2015-2017 technical review programme has the full report.

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LBP knowledge link

LBP Registrar update (Codewords 83)

With 2018 well underway, I thought it would be helpful to give an update on what’s coming up for LBPs.

Paul Hobbs

Our refreshed LBP website is now up and running so please take some time to have a look at it. We hope it meets your needs and is more responsive than the former version.

The Building Practitioners Board recently welcomed newly appointed member David Fabish, a long-time Carpentry and Site 2 LBP, bringing the Board to eight members.

In other news, MBIE recently sponsored five building Standards and a Handbook that are free to download from the Standards New Zealand website. These are:

  • NZS 4121:2001 Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities
  • NZS 3902:2004 Housing, alterations and small buildings contract
  • NZS 4218:2009 Thermal insulation – housing and small buildings
  • NZS 4514:2009 Interconnected smoke alarms for houses
  • NZS 8500:2006 Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs
  • SNZ HB 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings – Selected extracts from NZS 3604:2011 

Building-related Standards on the Standards New Zealand website has further information.

Our first LBP article relates to NZS 3902:2004 Housing, alterations and small buildings contract. The standard form contract meets the consumer protection requirements of the Building Act. It is an important tool for all LBPs who administer building contracts. 

Housing contract now free

Our second article relates to the release of the NZS 3604 Handbook. In this article we cover two NZS 3604-related issues that have come to both MBIE’s and the Building Practitioners Board’s attention through an LBP complaint or general query.

Timber-framing and foundation pointers

Thanks for reading. Until the next edition,

Paul Hobbs
Registrar Building Practitioner Licensing

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Housing, alterations and small buildings contract now free

If you’re a contractor you must provide a written contract for residential building work costing $30,000 or more (GST inclusive).

All licensing classesArticle is relevant to all LBP licence classes.

MBIE recommends you have a contract even if the work will cost less than $30,000 so everyone has an understanding of obligations, requirements and expectations. It helps to protect both you and your client, and can make your life a lot easier if disputes arise in the future. 

Since 1 January 2015, under Part 4A of the Building Act 2004, it has been mandatory to have a written contract with your client for all residential building work that costs $30,000 (including GST) or more. This does not apply to subcontracts between a main contractor and a subcontractor.

Free online contract

NZS 3902:2004 is a standard building contract you can use for clients who engage you to build their house, or to do simple building work or alterations. 

MBIE has sponsored NZS 3902:2004 so that anyone can download this contract for free from the Standards New Zealand website and comply with the mandatory contracting provisions.  

Although this contract is expected to be used mainly for house construction, it can also be used without amendment for other small building works. 

Meets requirements and helpful if disagreement

Using NZS 3902:2004 will also ensure the terms of your contract with the client meet the minimum requirements set out in Part 4A of the Building Act 2004 (which requires a written contract as noted above). 

Know your stuff: Consumer protection has further information on your other obligations. 

Disagreements can happen during construction. If they do, NZS 3902:2004 sets out a disputes resolution process that may help you reach a solution. You may also consider getting legal advice when dealing with disputes. 

Sometimes a different contract is needed

While NZS 3902:2004 is useful, it is not appropriate for all situations, and you may need to either seek advice or use other standard contracts that are better suited. 

You can also prepare or have a lawyer prepare a contract for you, or the client (or their agent or designer) may propose using some other standard contract (such as NZS 3916:2013 Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering – Design and construct). 

NZS 3902:2004 Housing, alterations and small buildings contract can be freely downloaded on the Standards New Zealand website. You can also purchase NZS 3902:2004 as a hard copy or an online library subscription. 

NZS3916:2013 Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering – Design and construct can be purchased on the Standards New Zealand website.

Contractors: Do your homework has further information on consumer protection measures if you’re doing residential building work. 


1. When did it become mandatory for building contractors to provide a written contract for work that costs $30,000 (including GST) or more?

a. 1 January 2004
b. 1 January 2015
c. 1 January 2012

2. Who is responsible for ensuring there is a written contract for work that costs $30,000 (including GST) or more?

a. The client
b. The local council
c. The building contractor (which might be you as the LBP)

3. Where can you download NZS 3902:2004 free of charge?

a. From the LBP website
b. From the New Zealand Standards website
c. From the Building Performance website

Check answers

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Timber-framing and foundation pointers

This article highlights two issues in timber-framed building work that are common in complaints about LBPs to the Building Practitioners Board and in enquiries to MBIE’s technical team – holes and notches to studs and joists, and foundation set-out.

LicensingArticle is relevant to LBP licence classes: Design, Site, Carpentry, Foundations

Update: Please note that on 11 May 2018 this article was updated to provide greater clarity around size limits for holes and notches in studs and joists.

Handy reference guide to NZS 3604:2011

These issues relate to NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.

This Standard is a core compliance document for those involved in building work. A helpful reference guide containing selected extracts from this Standard is also available: SNZ HB 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings Handbook (the Handbook).

This Handbook provides users with a collection of figures and tables extracted from NZS 3604:2011 that are commonly used on-site or in the design office. SNZ HB 3604:2011 has been designed as an ‘on-site reference guide’ and should prove a useful resource for those who don’t have ready access to the full version of the Standard.

MBIE has sponsored the handbook SNZ HB 3604:2011 so it is now free to download from the Standards New Zealand website. 

Holes and notches to studs and joists 


Achieving greater levels of energy efficiency in our homes has become more important. Because of this, some common methods of construction have changed or been modified. An example of this is the move from 90x45 mm to 140x45 mm timber wall framing in order to provide enough depth for thicker wall insulation. 

It is important to note that while NZS 3604:2011 (and the Handbook) provides notching and drilling limits for 90 mm deep, NZS 3604-specified wall framing, it does not give limits for 140 mm deep, NZS 3604-specified wall framing. 

The limit for 90 mm NZS 3604-specified framing is that the maximum size of the hole or notch can be no more than 25 mm, or 27 per cent of the depth of the stud. This may be increased to 35 mm where no more than three consecutive studs are drilled or notched. However, there are restrictions for studs associated with brick veneer and with trimming studs. See Clause 1.5.3 of the Handbook and Clauses 8.5.2 and of NZS 3604:2011 for more information.

NZS 3604:2011 does not provide notch or hole limits for 140 mm deep NZS 3604-specified framing. However, BRANZ Guideline January 2018 states that the maximum size of a hole or notch could be 38 mm (27 per cent of 140 mm) and that all other requirements that apply to notching and drilling (such as spacing and location) given for 90 mm spacing apply equally to 140 mm framing. The 140 mm wall depth can offer additional opportunities for the size and position of services that plumbers and electricians can run through holes in the framing.

BRANZ Guideline January 2018 [PDF 510 KB] is available on the BRANZ website.

Where 140 mm deep studs are used in place of 90 mm deep NZS 3604-specified studs for a non-structural reason (eg to accommodate insulation), the notch or hole size may be increased by the stud depth difference, ie to 75mm. This is provided a notch does not reduce the net section depth below that required by NZS 3604 (ie 65 mm) and a hole is located in the centre of the stud depth. All other requirements that apply to notching and drilling (such as spacing and location) given for 90 mm spacing apply equally to 140 mm framing.   


NZS 3604 notch and hole requirements for floor joists are different to the requirements for studs and are given in NZS 3604 Clause 7.1.7 and BRANZ Guideline January 2018. Larger holes or notches are also possible if floor joists deeper than specified in Table 7.1 of NZS 3604 are used for the application.

Notches and holes in studs or joists that do not meet the above requirements must be subject to specific engineering design.

Foundation set-out

A number of recent Building Practitioners Board complaints have considered issues relating to foundation set-out, siting or accuracy of layout of a house slab. The most common area of concern for foundation-related complaints is where the foundation set-out is found to be inconsistent with the consented drawings.

Modern methods of construction often involve foundation specialists laying the foundations and then the carpenter starting work after the slab is formed.  This is an example of the move to greater levels of specialisation to help drive efficiency into the building process.  However, it is important that clear communication is not lost in this process. 

To be clear and to avoid doubt, always work to the consented set of drawings and if there are differences within the working drawings then these should be raised and resolved with the designer, project lead and the building consent authority before work progresses.   

Common problems to watch out for include:

  • The foundation layout plan not being consistent with the wall framing assembly or other aspects of the consented drawings.
  • The layout provided by the truss and frame manufacturer not aligning with foundation design. This often leads to frames overhanging or falling short of the slab.
  • The finished foundation not meeting the dimensional tolerances required by NZS 3604:2011. This means the slab and wall framing will probably not line up with each other. Refer to section 1.3 of the Handbook or section 2.2 of NZS 3604:2011.
  • Complex, angular, stepped, or irregular foundation layouts, for which set-out is more difficult and problems are more common.
  • Tight or infill sites, which often have additional requirements with boundary clearances, building adjacent to easements, and the like, meaning that accurate set-out is even more important.

Find the Standard and the Handbook

NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings can be purchased on the Standards New Zealand website.

SNZ HB 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings Handbook is free to download from the Standards New Zealand website. It has been designed as an ‘on-site reference guide’ and provides users with a collection of figures and tables extracted from NZS 3604:2011 that are commonly used on-site or in the design office.


1. What is the maximum diameter hole you can drill in a 90 mm stud, if you are complying with NZ 3604:2011?

a. 50 mm
b. Any size providing it is not a trimmer stud
c. 25 mm, but may be increased to 35 mm in some cases

2. What size hole can be drilled in a 140 mm stud, according to the BRANZ Guideline January 2018?

a. 38 mm
b. It depends on the grade of the timber
c. 50 mm
d. It is up to the plumber

3. Do the consented plans take precedence over other drawings when establishing a building layout?

a. Yes
b. No

4. Where can tolerances for timber framing be found?

a. In the 2018 Builders Omnibus
b. In either section 1.3 of SNZ HB 3604: 2011 or section 2.2 of NZS3604:2011
c. Schedule 1 of the Building Act

Check answers

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Almost 40 years in the industry and still going strong

Martin Goulden became a qualified builder in 1980, and went on to start his own business in 1998. Now, nearly 40 years after he first qualified, Martin shares his story and some advice for LBPs in the industry.

“I own and manage a building business in the capital city with a focus on residential building, including the construction of new housing and a lot of renovation work. We now employ 18 staff, including my wife, Anne-Marie, who runs the office,” says Martin. 

After Martin left high school he began an apprenticeship at a construction company and completed a Trade Certificate and Advanced Trade Certificate in Building. 

“I moved to Picton where I worked on jetty construction and wharf repairs. After a year of that, I moved to Wellington to work for the same construction company I completed my apprenticeship with. At the same time, I completed a New Zealand Certificate in Building.” 

Martin went on to set up his own business and today splits his time between being on-site and in the office. 

“I meet with clients, staff and suppliers and still really enjoy working on the tools when time allows – but that doesn’t feel like often enough. Clearly there aren’t enough hours in the day,” he says. 

Martin got his application in quickly for his LBP licence, easily seeing the value in and the need for such a scheme. His interest was sparked through his involvement with Master Builders. 

“I was comfortable with the responsibilities that come with having a licence because I already had that level of responsibility to my clients. 

“As a builder who started out over almost 40 years ago, I have some advice for building practitioners out there. It’s important to learn your trade and learn it well. In particular the technical aspects and understanding exactly what is required of you. 

“Seeking out and reading technical information can help you with this, and you’re off to a great start if you’re already here reading Codewords. 

“Make sure you keep up to date with changes in the materials and the products you’re working with and never be afraid to ask for help or a second opinion when you need it,” he says. 

All these years later, Martin still loves his building career and plans to continue rolling up his sleeves and working as long he can. 

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Auckland building practitioner has licence cancelled for serious breaches

A licensed building practitioner (LBP) has been disciplined by the Building Practitioners Board (the Board) for several offences including carrying out and supervising building work incompetently.

Registrar of Building Practitioners Paul Hobbs says “Ioane Ngaata was engaged in January 2016 to undertake extension work to an Auckland property under a building consent, which was not lawfully followed, and the work remains unfinished.” 

“An important aspect of the LBP scheme focuses on how a licensed building practitioner conducts themselves and Mr Ngaata’s actions were not reflective of the Board’s expectations. 

“Mr Ngaata had made unethical financial gain by invoicing the homeowner, and being paid $235,000.

“He’d also provided the homeowner with evidence that he was a member of Registered Master Builders Association, despite having been refused membership twice by the organisation. 

“Some basic trade fundamentals weren’t up to scratch. To name a few, cladding, flashings, interior flooring, plasterboard linings and stoppings weren’t installed following normal trade practice and it was established two bathrooms, a balcony and wall insulation were among many parts left incomplete.” 

Ioane Ngaata has been ordered to pay $3000 and had his licence cancelled, and will not be able to apply to be relicensed for a period of 12 months. 

“There can be no bending of the rules, and where there are, building practitioners can expect to be held to account,” says Mr Hobbs. 

“New Zealanders can have confidence that where necessary, LBPs are held to account by the Board, who ensure building practitioners meet the high standards expected of them. 

“Given the gravity of offending, Mr Ngaata has had his licence removed and will not be able to apply to for a licence for a set period of time,” says Mr Hobbs. 

Where to find more information

Consumers can read MBIE’s top tips for a successful build to help guide them through the building process. 

Top tips for a successful build

A guide on making a complaint about a licensed building practitioner is available on the LBP website.

How to make a complaint about an LBP [PDF 432KB]

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Construction sector warned not to risk unlawful immigration advice

Does your business know the rules around immigration advice for overseas workers?

Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) Registrar Catherine Albiston says it costs businesses time and money to hire tradespeople from overseas, a challenge made even harder if the wrong immigration advice is given and visa applications get declined. 

Only a licensed or exempt immigration adviser can give immigration advice to migrants wanting to work in New Zealand. 

New Zealand immigration advice includes advising a person on visa options or how best to fill out an application form. People who are exempt from requiring an immigration adviser’s licence to provide immigration advice include current New Zealand lawyers and Immigration New Zealand staff. 

Employers, recruiters and HR advisers can’t provide New Zealand immigration advice without a licence. They can only provide very basic assistance, such as sharing Immigration New Zealand’s forms and website, and putting workers in touch with a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person. 

If a worker is unsure where to go for New Zealand immigration advice, visa information is available on Immigration New Zealand’s website. In addition, workers can also search the IAA’s free register of licensed advisers.

Find a licensed immigration adviser

Immigration New Zealand has also produced a simple guide about licensed immigration advisers in Samoan, Tongan, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Punjabi, Hindu and English, which can be downloaded from the IAA’s website. 

Your guide to licensed immigration advisers

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Recent determinations

Determination 2017/084 – Summary

Determination 2017/084 considers whether a two-storey building without a lift to the upper level would comply with Clause D1 Access routes.


A building consent was submitted for a two-storey building located alongside a laneway. The building’s ground level contains three food kiosks, each with access to the laneway. The upper level has a covered terrace that leads to a bar/restaurant, with occupancy limited to 50 people. 

During the consenting process, the building consent authority (BCA) stated a lift to the upper level would be required to comply with Clause D1 of the Building Code. The architect disagreed, stating a lift to the upper level was not required as the design satisfied the criteria within NZS 4121. 

In order to resolve the matter an inclined platform lift to the upper storey was proposed and the BCA issued the building consent. During construction, a determination was sought to see if the building without a lift would comply with Clause D1. 


The Building Act requires reasonable and adequate access for disabled persons who may be expected to visit or work in the building. 

Clause D1 sets out the performance requirements for access and accessible routes. The determination discussed the relationship between NZS 4121:2001 Design for Access and Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities and Clause D1 Access routes. Because Section 119 of the Act refers to NZS 4121 as being an Acceptable Solution, a BCA must accept a solution that satisfies NZS 4121 as complying with the performance requirements of Clause D1. 

Clause D1 and NZS 4121 contain different criteria for when a lift to upper floors is required:

  • Clause D1.3.4(c)(iii) requires a lift in a two-storey building when the occupancy on the upper floor will be 40 or more people
  • NZS 4121 requires a lift in a two-storey building if the upper floor size is 400m2 or more.

When NZS 4121 is used as the means of compliance, a lift is required when both the occupancy numbers and floor size area of the upper floor will be exceeded. 

In this instance, the occupancy numbers were exceeded, but at 132m2, the floor size area was below the limit stated in NZS 4121. The access route without a lift would satisfy NZS 4121 and comply with Clause D1.3.4(c). 

The decision

The determination stated the building without a lift to the upper level satisfied NZS 4121 and would be deemed to comply with Clause D1 in regard to access to the upper level.

Determination 2017/084 in full.

Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.

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