Using the decision-making framework - examples

Required upgrades for fire and accessibility should be considered in relation to the significance of the alteration. These example scenarios set out considerations using the five-step process for moderate and significant alterations respectively.

These example scenarios set out considerations for moderate and significant alterations respectively.

Minor alterations may result in less significant improvements regarding fire and accessibility. Examples of minor improvements may include fitting a grab rail adjacent to the existing toilet pan, changing handle taps to the wash hand basin to capstan lever taps, or contrasting stair nosings.

Although relating to change of use, the existing advice for temporary business and housing relocations contains useful information for considering reasonable upgrades in relation to minor, straightforward alterations.

Change of use – A guide for Christchurch City Council temporary business and housing relocations

Previous determinations are publicly available and contain legal decisions relating to the process of weighting sacrifices and benefits in relation to ‘as nearly as is reasonably practicable’ (ANARP).

The following examples correspond with Steps 1 to 5 in the section Demonstrating and assessing compliance. These examples are a guide only and do not replace the decision-making powers of BCAs and territorial authorities in relation to alterations to existing buildings.

Scenario 1: Building consent application demonstrates compliance

A building consent application is received by a BCA for a proposed alteration to an existing building that is not earthquake prone. The proposed alteration is considered a moderate level of building work based on the advice presented in 'Requesting information about means of escape from fire for existing buildings'. 

Requesting information about means of escape from fire for existing buildings.

Step 1 – Applicants check what is required for the proposed alteration

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • Information provided in response to each question in the decision-making pathway in Step 1 to illustrate that the requirements of section 112 of the Building Act apply for both fire and accessibility.

Consideration by the BCA

  • Considers information presented in conjunction with the decision-making pathway in Step 1. Agree that section 112 of the Building Act applies for both fire and accessibility.

Step 2 – Applicants consider current and proposed Building Code compliance for the whole building

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • Evidence provided that the building will continue to comply with all other Building Code clauses to the same extent after the proposed alteration.
  • Table included in application outlining applicable Building Code clauses for fire and accessibility identified in Step 2, and how compliance is demonstrated (eg the applicable Acceptable Solution, Verification Method or Alternative Solution).
  • In summary, full compliance will be maintained (or achieved) for the following clauses: C3.4, C4, C6, D1, G2, G3, G5, G9, G12.

Consideration by the BCA

  • Considers information presented along with building age and information on file.
  • Considering the proposed design, the BCA concludes that the building will continue to comply with other Building Code clauses to the same extent.
  • Agrees that full compliance is demonstrated for clauses: C3.4, C4, C6, D1, G2, G3, G5, G9, G12.

Step 3 – Applicants assess ANARP for the outstanding fire and accessibility Building Code clauses

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • Table presented outlining a gap analysis of outstanding Building Code clauses for fire and accessibility, including what they require, existing features in the building, and whether the proposed design includes any improvements to these. Additional commentary is provided to support this that outlines the weighting exercise (sacrifices and benefits) and justification to inform the ANARP threshold.
  • In summary, the outstanding Building Code clauses are: F6, F7, F8, G1.
  • Additional signage, additional interventions to improve visibility in escape routes, an automatic fire alarm and sprinkler system, and accessible facilities are required to achieve full compliance with the outstanding Building Code clauses.
  • The design includes all of these except an automatic sprinkler system. The applicant outlines that the cost of this is too great compared to the benefit (despite being improved life safety). The applicant instead proposes some improvement rather than full compliance by way of an automatic fire alarm.

Consideration by the BCA

  • Considers information presented against each specific Building Code requirement, paying specific attention to the sacrifices and benefits associated.
  • The BCA concludes that:
    • the applicant has provided a thorough assessment of the sacrifices and benefits of the requirements for achieving full Building Code compliance
    • the applicant has made a reasonable effort to include upgrades to fire and accessibility
    • the alteration to the building is moderate, and installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system is significant
    • the cost of all possible upgrades, including the sprinkler system, are estimated to cost more than the total proposed alteration work itself
    • it is reasonable that the ANARP threshold for this alteration does not include the sprinkler system given the other interventions and upgrades being made by the applicant (owner).

Step 4 – BCA determines whether the proposed alteration complies with the requirements

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • This step is completed by the BCA.

Consideration by the BCA

  • BCA determines that the proposed alteration complies with the requirements of section 112, and all other requirements of the building consent application are met. Building consent issued.
  • Thorough decision-making records are filed.

Step 5 – If required, territorial authorities consider if discretion applies to the application

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • Not required.

Consideration by the BCA

  • Not required.

Scenario 2: Building consent application does not demonstrate compliance and territorial authority uses discretion to proceed

A building consent application is received by a BCA for a proposed alteration to an existing building that is earthquake prone. The proposed alteration is significant based on the advice presented in 'Requesting information about means of escape from fire for existing buildings'. It also meets the definition of a substantial alteration.

Requesting information about means of escape from fire for existing buildings.

Earthquake-prone buildings: substantial alteration.

Step 1 – Applicants check what is required for the proposed alteration

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • Information provided in response to each question in the decision-making pathway in Step 1 to illustrate that the requirements of section 133AT of the Building Act apply for both fire and accessibility.
  • Also identifies that it meets the definition of 'substantial alteration' and needs to include seismic work so that the building is no longer earthquake prone.

Consideration by the BCA

  • Considers information presented in conjunction with the decision-making pathway in Step 1. Agree that section 133AT of the Building Act applies for both fire and accessibility, and that the requirements for substantial alterations are triggered.

Step 2 – Applicants consider current and proposed Building Code compliance for the whole building

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • Evidence provided that the building will continue to comply with all other Building Code clauses to the same extent after the proposed alteration.
  • Evidence provided that strengthening work is included in the alteration, that when completed will bring the building to 80% of the New Building Standard (NBS).
  • Table included in application outlining applicable Building Code clauses for fire and accessibility identified in Step 2 and how compliance is demonstrated (eg the applicable Acceptable Solution, Verification Method or Alternative Solution).
  • Full compliance will be maintained (or achieved) for the following clauses: C3.4, C6, F8, G1, G2, G3, G5, G9, G12.

Consideration by the BCA

  • Considers information presented along with building age and information on file.
  • Considering the proposed design. The BCA concludes that the building will continue to comply with other Building Code clauses to the same extent, and that the proposed strengthening work will ensure the building is no longer earthquake prone once complete.
  • Agrees that full compliance is demonstrated for clauses: C3.4, C6, F8, G1, G2, G3, G5, G9, G12.

Step 3 – Applicants assess ANARP for the outstanding fire and accessibility Building Code clauses

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • Table presented outlining a gap analysis of outstanding Building Code clauses for fire and accessibility, including what they require, existing features in the building, and whether the proposed design includes any improvements to these. Additional commentary is provided to support this that outlines the weighting exercise (sacrifices and benefits) and justification to inform the ANARP threshold.
  • In summary, an improvement in compliance will be achieved for the following clauses: C4, F6, F7
  • The outstanding clauses are: D1, D2
  • The applicant outlines in its commentary that the cost of complying with C4, F6 and F7 does not outweigh the benefits of complying. The design therefore includes improvements to these, such as installation of an automatic sprinkler system.
  • The applicant upholds that compliance with D1 and D2 (by installing a lift) is too costly.

Consideration by the BCA

  • Considers information presented against each specific code requirement, paying specific attention to the sacrifices and benefits associated.
  • The BCA concludes that:
    • the applicant has made a reasonable effort to include upgrades to fire and accessibility, and has undertaken a thorough weighting exercise
    • the alteration to the building is significant, and considering upgrade over the life of the building, it would be reasonable to use this significant intervention to achieve compliance with Clauses D1 and D2 at this time by installing a lift. Future ability to do this once the alteration is completed is likely to be less economical (cost) and more inhibitive
    • the ANARP threshold includes installation of a lift.

Step 4: BCA determines whether the proposed alteration complies with the requirements

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • This step is completed by the BCA.

Consideration by the BCA

  • BCA determines that the proposed alteration does not comply ANARP with the applicable Building Code clauses for fire and accessibility. Building consent is not issued. The BCA continues their dialogue with the applicant to inform them of this consideration and decision, and notifies the territorial authority.
  • Thorough decision-making records are filed.

Step 5 – If required, territorial authorities consider if discretion applies to the application

Evidence submitted with the building consent application

  • Applicant continues the dialogue with the territorial authority, and formally requests to proceed with the building consent application using the discretionary clause, with the following reasons:
    • the cost of the work is already significant, and the additional cost of a lift (although economical now) would prevent the structural work from proceeding
    • installing a lift would reduce the floor area too significantly for viability in the rental market for offices, thereby affecting future income
    • the building is being improved dramatically in a number of other areas, including making it no longer earthquake prone, and some other aspects of fire and accessibility are upgraded.

Consideration by the territorial authority

  • The territorial authority considers the argument and supporting information presented to inform the discretionary decision.
  • Concludes that it is appropriate to allow the alteration to proceed, as it meets the following conditions:
    • the alteration includes the necessary seismic work, and
    • if the building were required to comply with the specified provisions, it would be unduly onerous for the owner in the circumstances, and
    • the permitted non-compliance is no more than is reasonably necessary for the objective of ensuring that the building or part is no longer earthquake prone, and
    • after the alteration, the building will continue to comply with all relevant provisions to the same extent as before the alteration.
  • All other requirements of the building consent application are met. Building consent issued.
  • Thorough decision-making records are updated and filed.

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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: