Codewords Issue 85

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31 July 2018

In this issue:

Welcome to Codewords Issue 85

Over the last two months MBIE has run a series of workshops with industry to discuss approaches to addressing the construction industry skills shortage. The workshops included discussion of the Action Plan which was presented to Cabinet back in May.

The Action Plan includes initiatives to mobilise both government and the sector to start training people now to ensure the skills pipeline responds to the demands of KiwiBuild across the country. The plan supports the broader Construction Skills Strategy, which aims to ensure New Zealand has the construction workforce it needs now and in the future. As we learn more about what skills will be required for the changing industry, the strategy can be used as a vehicle to help the sector stay ahead of the change. The plan is expected to be considered and confirmed by Cabinet in August.

The National Construction Pipeline report 2018 was released yesterday and provides a projection of national building and construction activity for the next six years, ending 31 December 2023. Of note from the report is that total new construction value shows continual growth for the forecast period. This is unique compared with previous years which have a peak followed by a decline in activity – so it is a welcome shift away from New Zealand’s usual ‘boom-bust’ cycle. These cycles have reduced the certainty and confidence the sector needed to grow skills and workforce – and keep them.

The construction sector is New Zealand’s fourth largest employer, employing over 250,000 people. But we need more. Government cannot address this shortage alone. With the guaranteed pipeline of work provided by KiwiBuild, the support provided by the Action Plan, and now the projections from the Pipeline report, there is an expectation the sector will invest in skills over the long term.

Read the 2018 National Construction Pipeline report.

Earlier in July MBIE released an addendum to the original Independent Panel's investigation report into the partial floor collapse that occurred at Wellington's Statistics House during the 14 November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. This sort of work is central to MBIE’s role as regulator with a responsibility to ensure our buildings keep people safe. You can find out more about the addendum in this issue of Codewords and read it on the MBIE website.

Enjoy this issue of Codewords.

Anna Butler

Anna Butler

GM, Building System Performance

Code and technical changes

One year anniversary of revised BCA accreditation scheme

1 July 2018 marks the first anniversary of the revised Building (Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2006 and building consent authority (BCA) accreditation scheme guidance.

Council inspector recording details on tablet device while conducting inspection

In the last 12 months, 45 BCAs and accredited organisations have been assessed against this revised scheme, including initial assessments for two organisations wanting to become accredited.


The following are findings from accreditation assessment data which indicate:

  • Organisations assessed since 1 July 2017 under the revised scheme received an average of 15 non-compliances.
  • The three areas with the highest level of non-compliance relate to policies and procedures that a BCA must have. They are:
    1. regulation 7(2)(f) issuing and refusing to issue code compliance certificates, compliance schedules, and notices to fix
    2. regulation 7(2)(d)(iv) processing the applications to establish whether they comply with the requirements that the Act, Building Code and any other applicable regulations under the Act specify for buildings
    3. regulation 7(2)(a) giving certain information to a person who wants to apply for a building consent (public information).

Guidance and checklists

In general, assessment results show that BCAs/accredited organisations that read MBIE's online regulatory guidance and use the provided checklists as a self- assessment tool receive fewer non-compliances than organisations that do not.

The responses indicate assessments are being conducted more consistently, and this is largely due to the use of MBIE checklists. The online guidance tool also helps decision-making as it clearly indicates what constitutes non-compliance and how this is to be reported.

MBIE recently updated checklist 7(2)(d)(iv). Changes include:

  • Line item 'energy work relating to specified systems' has been incorporated into regulation 7(2)(a) checklist (consumer information) and included as part of the line item ‘requires consent,’ which requires the BCA to have consumer information about how to apply for a consent. The replacement line item in checklist 7(2)(d)(iv) refers to 'specified systems' only.
  • Reference to 'staged consents' has been altered to 'staged building work'.
  • Removal of reference to effective date for earthquake prone buildings. This came into force on 1 July 2017.

Results of BCA accreditation scheme survey

MBIE recently ran a post-accreditation survey of the revised scheme, and 28 of the recently assessed organisations responded.

Some of the questions and responses included:

  • Detailed regulatory guidance for the BCA accreditation scheme is provided on Please rate how useful this guidance is for helping you understand the regulatory requirements of the scheme.

    92 per cent of respondents reported the regulatory guidance to be either somewhat or very useful.

  • MBIE's regulatory guidance for BCA accreditation includes checklists that a BCA can use to undertake self-assessment of their policies, procedures and systems. Please rate how useful the checklists are for helping you prepare for the accreditation assessment.

    92 per cent reported the checklists are either somewhat or very useful.

  • How well does the BCA accreditation scheme support BCAs to align nationally, across a region or a policy, procedure or system?

    52 per cent responded that the scheme supported this, and 40 per cent that it did not.

Tips for BCAs and accredited organisations

  • Use MBIE checklists as a self-assessment tool to contribute to a more efficient assessment.
  • Read the regulations and the guidance before your assessment.
  • Under the revised scheme there is a requirement to have a policy, procedure and system for regulation 6A. This is not included in checklists. Some BCAs have received a serious non-compliance as a result of not meeting this requirement.
  • Where possible, provide links to guidance on your website, as part of regulation 7(2)(a) for public information.
  • Visit the Building Performance website and read the BCA accreditation quick reference guide

If you have any suggestions for guidance and/or checklists, or questions regarding BCA accreditation, please contact

BCA accreditation has further information on the accreditation scheme.

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Full suite of earthquake-prone building courses now available

'Apply' is the latest course to be released on MBIE’s Building Performance online learning site.

Illustration of old fashioned church similar to Christchurch cathedral

The course takes you through the monitoring and enforcement process for earthquake-prone buildings, including the strengthening or demolition work required. It provides useful scenarios and links to other resources for more detailed information.

The course is mainly for territorial authorities but may also interest building owners and others.
Apply takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Other online courses for earthquake-prone buildings

The Apply course is the final in a suite of five online courses related to the new system for managing earthquake-prone buildings. Other modules available are:

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

Online courses offer flexible learning as you can access the website from work or home at a time convenient for you. has further information about the courses.

You will need to log in to Real Me, and you will need to register your details the first time you do a course.

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BC Update round up

Several Building Controls Updates (BC Updates) have been released during June and July 2018. You can read these updates by following the links below.

Subscribe to Building Controls Updates

BC Update 235: MBIE publishes Alternative Solution Guidance for NZ Building Code clause C
Published 30 July 2018
MBIE has published a guide to help develop alternative solutions for complying with the performance requirements of New Zealand Building Code clauses C1-C6 Protection from Fire (the fire clauses).


BC Update 234: Suspension of six aluminium composite panel (ACP) CodeMark certificates
Published 26 July 2018
MBIE has suspended six aluminium composite panel (ACP) CodeMark certificates.


BC Update 233: MBIE publishes guide to managing buildings in an emergency
Published 6 July 2018
Territorial authorities need to plan to carry out building emergency management activities and keep plans current.


BC Update 232: MBIE releases addendum to Statistics House Investigation report
Published 4 July 2018
Addendum to the original Independent Panel’s investigation report into the partial floor collapse at Statistics House


BC Update 231: MBIE publishes guide to altering an existing building
Published 22 June 2018
Altering an existing building requirements apply to all existing buildings, including those that are earthquake prone.

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LBP knowledge link

LBP Registrar update (Codewords 85)

In this edition, our first LBP article announces the refresh of the LBP handbook.

Paul Hobbs, Licensed Practitioner Registrar

This document was previously known as Understanding the regulatory environment. The new title we’ve given the booklet reflects that it is a great tool for all LBPs to keep updated on the many aspects of the building profession. If you haven’t read the previous version in a while, or even if you have, we encourage you to pick it up and have a read. It’ll make for some good bedtime reading!

Our second article provides technical tips for concrete foundation wall reinforcing. While this may not be the most challenging part of a build, reinforcing can often be a sticking point at inspection time. Our article will give you some tips to get it right, and to get it right the first time.

We also cover off some poor supervision outcomes that have come before the Building Practitioners Board. If you’ll be supervising others, it might pay to read these summaries to avoid any issues.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the recent MBIE suspension of six aluminium composite panel (ACP) CodeMark certificates. LBPs should be aware of this action.

I hope everyone is wrapping up when out on site to keep warm and dry as we come through the heart of winter.

Thanks for reading – until next time

Paul Hobbs
Registrar Building Practitioner Licensing

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The LBP handbook

MBIE recently refreshed the LBP handbook, previously known as 'Understanding the Regulatory Environment'.

Article is relevant to LBP licence classes: All

The handbook is primarily a resource for building practitioners during the LBP application process, to help them understand the regulatory environment LBPs operate in. However, it is a valuable tool for all LBPs as an easy-to-understand update on the wider building and construction system.

What the handbook covers

Part one sets out general information about the LBP scheme.

This section outlines the definitions of restricted building work and supervision. It also provides information about the minimum standard of licensing, LBP licence classes, skills maintenance and working within your competence.

Part two looks at the roles and responsibilities of LBPs, home owners, registered and non-registered trades, and building consent authorities. This is worth checking out if you engage with clients and other practitioners.

Part three outlines the contractual relationship between contractors and clients. It includes information about obligations, eg a contractor must provide a residential client with a written contract and other documentation if the project will cost $30,000 or more (including GST), or if a client requests it.

Part four sets out rights and responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Part five outlines the building regulatory framework including relevant information under the Building Act 2004, the NZ Building Code and relevant building standards.

Part six describes the building and resource consent process, including applying for a building consent, variation of a building consent, inspections, obtaining a code compliance certificate and the penalties for building without a consent where one was required. This section will be useful if you regularly advise clients about the consent process.

How the handbook can help you

Cover of LBP handbook

The handbook can provide anyone with a great summary of the building system and how their role fits in. It is a great tool for understanding and meeting your obligations.

The handbook includes self-assessment questions that summarise content and allow you to test your knowledge. Rules do change over time and it is your responsibility to keep up to date with those changes.

How you can access the handbook and other important information

You can find and download the handbook by searching for it on the LBP website.

You can also keep up to date by subscribing to LBP Updates on the LBP website.

Get the latest versions of technical documents and guidance on the Building Performance website.

If you haven't already, you can also visit the Building Performance website to subscribe to Codewords and other updates.


1. Who will benefit from reading this handbook?

a. licensed building practitioners
b. new LBP applicants
c. homeowners
d. all of the above

2. This handbook will tell you how to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015?

a. True, it will give you a step by step guide to on-site compliance
b. False, it will only give you information about your roles and responsibilities

3. You would only need to read this handbook when you are applying for an LBP licence?

a. True, once you get your licence, the learning stops!
b. False, it will be useful anytime you need a refresher

4. Can you find information in this handbook about building consent authorities' responsibilities during the construction process?

a. Yes
b. No

Check answers

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Concrete foundation wall reinforcing

This article looks at NZS 3604:2011 requirements for reinforcing foundation walls in timber-framed buildings.

Article is relevant to LBP licence classes: Carpentry, Foundations

NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings describes reinforcing for in-situ concrete and concrete masonry foundation walls with a piled foundation system supporting lightweight timber-framed construction (refer to paragraph 6.11.7 and Figures 6.13, 6.14 and 6.15 of the Standard).

Basics of reinforcing

Reinforcing generally consists of 12 mm diameter deformed (D12) bars. The use of deformed bars, which have an irregular surface, creates a good bond between the reinforcing and the concrete. They are installed both horizontally and vertically at spacings depending on:

  • the height of the wall
  • whether the wall is in situ concrete or concrete masonry
  • whether the wall is to support 1 or 2-storey construction
  • whether the wall is cantilevered or not.

The details for reinforcing in-situ concrete and concrete masonry foundation walls are summarised in Table 1 and shown in Figures 1 and 2.

Type of Foundation WallReinforcing
FootingWall HorizontalWall Vertical
In situ concrete 1-storey building (wall not cantilevered) 1/D12* D12 @ 450mm centres plus one D12 at top for walls > 1m high D12 @ 600mm centres for walls >1m high
2-storey building (wall not cantilevered) 2/D12 D12 @ 450mm centres plus one D12 at top for walls > 1m high D12 @ 500mm centres for walls > 1m high
1 or 2-storey building (cantilevered wall) D12 @ 400mm centres both ways (see Figure 2) One D12 @ 400mm centres plus one D12 at top D12 @ 400 centres maximum
Concrete masonry 1-storey building (wall not cantilevered) 1/D12* One D12 at top and one D12 at mid height for walls > 1m high D12 @ 800mm centres
2-storey building (wall not cantilevered) 2/D12 D12 at mid height for walls > 1m high and D12 at top D12 @ 800mm centres
Cantilevered wall D12 @ 400mm centres both ways (see Figure 2) D12 @ 800mm centres D12 @ 400mm centres

* 2/D12 where foundation wall supports masonary veneer.

Figure 1: Reinforcing for in situ concrete foundation wall for single storey.

Figure 2: Reinforcing for cantilevered foundation wall for 1 or 2 storeys.
Note: Horizontal reinforcing in bond beam @ 800 mm centres.

When combined with concrete slab-on-ground floors

NZS 3604:2011 contains details of reinforcing for perimeter footings combined with concrete slab-on-ground floors supporting lightweight construction – refer to Figures 7.13(B), 7.14(B) and 7.14(C) of the Standard.

The Standard also contains details of the reinforcing if the combined perimeter footing/concrete slab-on-ground floor also supports masonry veneer cladding – refer to Figures 7.15(B), 7.16(B) and 7.16(C).

The details for reinforcing combined footing/concrete floor slabs are summarised in Table 2 and shown in Figures 3 and 4.

Note that Building Code B1/AS1 Amendment 11 removed the untied slab/footing details in Figures 7.13(A), 7.14(A), 7.15(A) and 7.16(A) of the Standard. All concrete slab-on-ground floors must now be reinforced and the slab reinforcing tied into the perimeter footing reinforcing.

Foundation Edge DetailReinforcing
Footing (base of foundation wall)Wall Horizontal (top of foundation wall)VerticalLap (Slab mesh and footing reinforcing)
In-situ concrete (1 or 2 storeys) Two D12 One D12 (top) R10 @ 600 mm centres 300mm
In-situ concrete (1 or 2 storeys supporting masonry veneer) Two D12 (placed horizontally) One D12 (top) R10 @ 600 mm centres 400mm
Concrete masonry (1 or 2 storeys supporting lightweight cladding) Two D12 (placed horizontally or vertically) One D12 (top) R10 @ 600 mm centres (hooked around horizontal reinforcing in footing in alternating directions – see Figure 4) 300mm
Concrete masonry (1 or 2 storeys supporting masonry veneer) Two D12 (placed horizontally) One D12 (top) R10 @ 600 mm centres (hooked around horizontal reinforcing in footing in alternating directions – see Figure 4) 400mm

Figure 3: Reinforcing for in situ concrete foundation edge detail for 1 or 2 storeys.

Figure 4: Reinforcing for concrete masonry foundation edge detail for 1 or 2 storeys.

Laps and changes in direction

Where horizontal reinforcing bars change direction and in other situations where they must be lapped, the overlaps must be a minimum of 500 mm. At corners, the laps must be at least 500 mm in each direction as shown in NZS 3604:2011 Figure 6.15(a).

Lapped reinforcing should be tied with 1.6 mm black annealed steel wire, which is soft and easily bent, at each end of the lap and at regular spacings in between.

Stirrups and bends

Where pairs of horizontal reinforcing bars are required in the footings of combined foundation wall/concrete slab-on-ground floors, they must be linked by stirrups. The stirrups are formed from the R10 (plain) reinforcing bars installed at 400 mm centres and tied with steel wire ties at the junctions of the reinforcing and the stirrups (see Figure 4). Plain reinforcing bars used as stirrups have a minimum bend diameter of two times the diameter of the bar.

The bends in the deformed longitudinal reinforcing that form a hook or create a right angle must be at least five times the diameter of the bar – for example, the minimum bend diameter for 12 mm diameter deformed reinforcing is 60 mm.

Other reinforcing requirements

Other reinforcing requirements for foundation walls and footings:

Stepped footings must have additional reinforcing in accordance with NZS 3604:2011 Figure 6.12 (see Figure 5).

Figure 5: Stepped foundation walls.

Where concrete or concrete masonry is against ground, reinforcing must have a minimum concrete cover of 75 mm.

Openings in foundation walls larger than 300 mm in any direction must have one D12 trimming bar on each side of the opening. These bars must extend at least 600 mm past each corner of the opening. Where a lintel is less than 650 mm deep, the jamb trimming bars must be bent near their tops at 60 mm from the top of the concrete.


1. The deformed reinforcing for concrete and concrete masonry foundation walls to NZS 3604:2011 is:

a. 8mm in diameter
b. 10mm in diameter
c. 12mm in diameter
b. 16mm in diameter.

2. Deformed bars are used because they:

a. slip more easily through the concrete
b. form a good bond with the concrete.

3. Laps to the D12 horizontal reinforcing must be at least:

a. 300mm
b. 500mm
c. 700mm
d. 1000mm

4. The minimum bend diameter of R10 reinforcing for stirrups is:

a. 20mm
b. 55mm
c. 60mm
d. 65mm

Check answers

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Board disciplines two LBPs for poor supervision practices

The Building Practitioners Board (the Board) recently handed down significant sanctions against two Auckland-based Carpentry licensed building practitioners (LBPs) and has chosen to publish the details of the matters due to their seriousness and the strong penalties.

Ashok Maharaj (C2-01621)

Mr Maharaj was found to have: 

  • carried out building work in a negligent or incompetent manner
  • failed to comply with a building consent.

Mr Maharaj was the LBP supervising building work. From the evidence heard, it was made clear to the Board that the building work was carried out in a negligent manner and was not in accordance with the building consent.

As the supervisor Mr Maharaj failed to:

  • ensure that trusses were installed correctly (both in a proper manner and in accordance with the building consent)
  • appropriately supervise defect remediation.

Because the truss defect was not identified before the roof was installed, major and invasive work will be required to fix it.

The Board noted that errors can occur during a build, and this does not automatically mean that an LBP has been negligent. In this circumstance the effect of the deficient truss installation was sufficiently serious to warrant disciplinary action given Mr Maharaj's lack of care in providing supervision.

As a result, Mr Maharaj's licence was suspended for six months and he was ordered to pay $3,000 in costs towards the inquiry. The Board ordered the decision to be published.

Rizvan Saheb (C2-01698)

Mr Saheb was found to have: 

  • carried out building work in a negligent or incompetent manner
  • failed to provide a record of work on the completion of restricted building work
  • acted in such a way as to bring the LBP scheme into disrepute.

The Board heard evidence that Mr Saheb was supervising the building work of an unlicensed person and the building work had a number of defects.

As the supervisor, Mr Saheb should have had enough contact with tradespeople to ensure that the work was carried out competently and compliantly. In this situation, there was no evidence that Mr Saheb performed any of the required supervisory activities.

As the supervising LBP Mr Saheb also failed to provide a record of work when the restricted building work was completed.

The Board was disappointed to see Mr Saheb effectively allow his licence to be used by others to carry out restricted building work, without him actually supervising them. The Board considered that Mr Saheb brought the regime into disrepute.

Mr Saheb's licence was cancelled and he cannot reapply for 12 months. Mr Saheb was also ordered to pay $3,000 in costs. The Board ordered the decision to be published.

What we can learn from these decisions

Supervising is not "renting" out your LBP number. It is an activity that needs to be taken seriously because the supervising LBP is responsible for making sure those doing the work have the right support to do it correctly.

Defects in the construction process can happen, but it is crucial that they are noted and fixed as part of the onsite quality assurance. Lack of supervision or relying on the building consent authority to catch issues is not an acceptable way of making sure building work is completed properly.

Supervision resources are easy to access. In the last year the Board has issued detailed decisions on supervision, and MBIE produced a Supervision practice note, which you should read if you are unfamiliar with supervising or want to refresh your knowledge.

Supervision practice note is available on the LBP website.

You can read these two decisions (and other past decisions) in full on the LBP website.

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Two Carpentry LBPs disciplined for poor work and compliance issues

The Building Practitioners Board (the Board) recently handed down two significant decisions against Carpentry licensed building practitioners (LBPs) and has chosen to publicise the details of the matters due to their seriousness and the possible learnings for other LBPs.

Peter Van Der Sluis (C2-01572)

Mr Van Der Sluis was found to have:

  • carried out building work in a negligent or incompetent manner
  • carried out building work that does not comply with a building consent
  • failed to provide a record of work.

Mr Van Der Sluis undertook building work in an addition to a residential dwelling under a building consent. The work failed a number of building consent authority (BCA) inspections.

Although Mr Van Der Sluis did not pour the concrete foundations himself, the work was done under his supervision. The Board considered Mr Van Der Sluis was responsible for negligent building work that related to the difference in height in the foundations, and the plaster board installation.

Submissions provided on behalf of Mr Van Der Sluis stated he was hired on a labour-only basis, and that the Complainant was in charge of “site issues” under the contract, and therefore responsible for subcontractor management. The Board highlighted that an LBP is not absolved of their responsibilities when entering a labour-only contract.

The Board considered some mitigating factors in this case, including work Mr Van Der Sluis did to fix issues, the losses incurred, and the unusual contractual arrangements where the Complainant retained some level of responsibility. Mr Van Der Sluis was ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 and $2,500 towards the cost of the Board’s inquiry.

Andrew Musson (C2-01749)

Mr Musson was found to have:

  • carried out building work in a negligent or incompetent manner
  • carried out building work that does not comply with a building consent
  • failed to provide a record of work
  • brought the LBP scheme into disrepute.

Mr Musson was found accountable for building work with significant defects, carrying out the work without amending the plans before continuing with the alteration, and failing to issue a record of work for restricted building work. The Board considered that his actions, including his failure to abide by a High Court order, and removing material from the building site that had been paid for by the Complainant, brought the LBP regime into disrepute.

The Board found Mr Musson responsible for the poor installation of a rigid air barrier, failing to install piles and continuing building work without installing them. Another builder later installed piles in the area Mr Musson had claimed was inaccessible. The foundations, which had been designed by an engineer, were altered when three structural piles were removed and a product substitution was made for the rigid air barrier. These changes were not made in consultation with the BCA, and the correct amendment or variation process was not followed.

The Board censured Mr Musson and ordered he pay $2,000 towards the cost of the Board’s inquiry and a $4000 fine.

What we can learn from these decisions

When workmanship issues arise some of the key factors the Board considers are:

  • the extent of the error, omission or non-compliance
  • whether the Respondent's failings in the planning and execution of the building work contributed to the issue arising
  • whether the issues are identified and dealt with in a timely fashion as part of the build, and quality assurance process used.

The Board considers the circumstances leading up to and after the issue. A disciplinary outcome is likely when a failing is significant or where the LBP is aware of an issue and does not take action to fix it.

Care must be taken when entering arrangements such as a labour-only contract as an LBP could still face disciplinary action for supervising others who carry out substandard work.

Issues can arise during a build and don’t always mean that an LBP has been negligent. However, an LBP should always aim to get it right the first time and not to have to rely on fixing issues later.

Read these decisions, and past decisions, in full on the LBP website.

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Roofing expert Graham Moor values LBP scheme

Graham Moor is CEO of the Roofing Association of New Zealand (RANZ) and was one of the first licensed building practitioners (LBPs) to hold a roofing licence. While he no longer carries out or supervises restricted building work (RBW), he is a great advocate for the scheme.

"Becoming an LBP is the recognition your specialist trade deserves," says Graham.

"It also shows you really understand what it takes to be part of the building process and that you know what competent means. You can be assured that your integrity is recognised because you operate safely, and with the knowledge of how work needs to comply, and you work within your skill set."

Graham owned a roofing business in the Bay of Islands for 21 years, and started with the RANZ executive in 2002.

"I have always been a firm believer in training and qualifications, as a pathway and a measure of ability. I currently hold three national certificates in three types of roofing and am an industry assessor for national certificates.

"In my role now, my days are spent working for the best interests of the roofing industry. This covers an array of work including health and safety, technical, contractual, compliance, consumer law, training, our conference, and building industry issues, to name a few!"

Graham has held a number of governance roles in the building industry, including as a previous member of the Licensed Building Practitioners Board. Earlier this year he decided to give up his LBP licence and says this decision was about recognising the requirements of being an LBP, and maintaining the scheme’s integrity.

"What I found is that as an LBP you will strive at all times to do the right thing. As an LBP, your work is your brand whether you are self-employed or an employee," says Graham.

"At the end of the day, we all want to do a good job for New Zealanders in whatever kind of building work we specialise in."

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Recent determinations

Compliance of an indoor residential pool with no barrier

Determination 2018/017 concerns an indoor residential pool that was exempt from having a barrier when it was constructed and considers whether a barrier is now required.


The building was issued a building permit after the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act (FOSPA) came into force (on 1 September 1987) and before the Building Act 1991 applied (1 July 1992) In 2011, the building consent authority (BCA) issued an exemption under section 5(e) of FOSPA for the indoor pool, which meant it did not need a barrier. The exemption was granted because the pool was completely enclosed within the building.

On 1 January 2017 the Building Act was amended and FOSPA was repealed. The Building Act now requires inspections of residential pool barriers at least once every three years. In 2017, the council carried out an inspection of the pool and told the owners a barrier was now needed to comply with section 162C of the Building Act.


Section 162C(1) of the Building Act requires all residential pools to have a physical barrier to restrict access to the pool by unsupervised young children. This applies regardless of when the pool was constructed.

Section 162C(2) didn’t apply in this case because there was no barrier, however the determination provided some commentary about the provision.

Section 162C(2) states that the physical barrier that restricts access to the pool must comply with the requirements of the Building Code-

(a) that are in force; or
(b) that were in force when the pool was constructed, erected, or installed (after 1 September 1987) and in respect of which a building consent, code compliance certificate, or certificate of acceptance ("compliance documents") was issued.

The Building Act 1991 came into force 1 July 1992 and introduced building consents and code compliance certificates, both 'compliance documents' referred to in Section 162C(2)(b).  That section of the Building Act is written in a way that doesn't include pools constructed between 1 September 1987 and 1 July 1992.

The determination discussed the requirements for barriers built between these dates, which would not have a building consent or code compliance certificate. It concluded Parliament didn't intend to require upgrades to barriers constructed between 1 September 1987 and 1 July 1992, if they complied with the bylaws at the time.  This view was informed by the other sections in the Building Act regarding pools.  

In 2011 the owners had been granted an exemption from the requirement to have a barrier, under section 5(e) of FOSPA. The owners believed the requirement in section 162C for a physical barrier could not now be applied because the pool had an exemption under FOSPA. The determination disagreed with this view. The determination considered it would be inconsistent with the purpose of the Building Act and its residential pool sections to conclude that a residential pool without a barrier that was granted an exemption now complies with section 162C(1).

The decision 

The determination concluded that because the pool does not have a physical barrier to restrict access by young children it doesn't comply with section 162C of the Building Act.

Determination 2018/017 in full.

Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.

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Assessing access requirements for buildings in a complex

Determination 2018/018 discusses the access requirements for buildings in a development.


A building consent was sought for a mixed-use development containing an 11-storey hotel building and a two-storey office building, with both buildings built over a two-storey underground carpark.

The two buildings are joined structurally, sharing foundations through the underground carpark, and having some common walls. No internal access between the hotel and the office building was proposed.

A determination was sought because of the building consent authority’s (BCA) decision that a lift was needed for access to the upper floor of the office building. Whether the hotel and office should be treated as one building, or as separate buildings, was central to this decision.


The BCA's view was that compliance with Clause D1 (Access) of the Building Code should be assessed using the combined Level 1 area of the hotel and office. The BCA decided based on section 8(1)(c) of the Building Act that the hotel and office should be treated as one building. If that interpretation was correct, a lift would be required. The owner’s view was that the buildings had separate uses and ownership arrangements, and access requirements should be separately assessed for each building.

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.

The proposed design met NZS 4121, as the area of the upper floor of the office building was 396m².

Section 119 of the Act says NZS 4121 is to be taken as an Acceptable Solution, and under section 19, a BCA must accept compliance with an Acceptable Solution as establishing compliance with the Building Code.

Section 8(1)(c) explains that, together, a number of buildings can be considered one 'building' when they are "intended to be managed as one building with a common use and a common set of ownership arrangements". This allows for facilities provided in one building to be used by the complex as a whole to meet Building Code requirements.

The determination considered the BCA's interpretation of section 8(1)(c) was incorrect, because there was no common use between the buildings and separate ownership and management was proposed. The compliance of the office with Clause D1 didn't depend on the facilities provided in the hotel, or vice versa. Therefore, when determining compliance with Clause D1.3.4(c)(iii) or NZS 4121 the hotel and office should be treated as separate buildings.

The decision

The office building without a lift would comply with Clause D1 regarding access to Level 1 of the office.

Determination 2018/018 in full.

Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.

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