Practice Advisory 16: Quality assurance in design and construction

Practice Advisory 16 fig 2

The purpose of this Practice Advisory is to increase awareness of the importance of quality assurance systems and of the building control system we operate in.

This information was confirmed as current in December 2016.

  • Published on 27 January 2016
  • Updated on 19 December 2016
  • Of interest to Building consent authorities, Geotechnical engineers, Structural engineers,
  • ISBN: 978-0-478-43355-5 (Online)

This Practice Advisory is issued as guidance information in accordance with section 175 of the Building Act 2004 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. This document is not a compliance document in terms of the Act and not a substitute for professional advice.


The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission (CERC) identified systemic quality assurance issues related to the building regulatory system. From many perspectives, from Building Code compliance to customer satisfaction, it is imperative that all organisations involved in building projects implement an appropriate quality assurance programme.

Quality assurance systems

Quality assurance is necessary for successful building outcomes. Quality assurance of all work should occur at all stages throughout the building process, from project inception to final commissioning and handover. Quality assurance reviews enable the early identification and remediation of any shortcomings in design and construction, resulting in efficiencies and savings in project delivery.

For more information on appropriate quality processes in an engineering design office practice, refer to IPENZ-ACENZ Practice Note 14: Structural engineering design office practice on the IPENZ website.

For more information on the use of appropriate documentation to support quality design outcomes, refer to:

Design features report

  • Building designs often involve complex technical concepts, assumptions and judgements. It is imperative that these design assumptions and parameters be well-communicated for peer-review and consenting purposes. This information can also be very valuable to building owners.
  • A convenient way to articulate a building’s structural philosophy is through a Design Features Report, which describes key elements of design, including design actions, load paths, the foundations and lateral load resisting systems. Report templates have been prepared by SESOC to complement the Construction Industry Council Design Documentation Guidelines.
  • Design features reports should supplement notes and descriptions in the calculations.
Do Don't
  • Use Design Features Reports to articulate fundamental design approaches.
  • Expect design intents to be understood without a clear design statement.


Producer statement and consenting

Producer statements are widely used to assist Building Consent Authorities in deciding on ‘reasonable grounds’, if the design of a building work complies with the Building Code or if construction complies with the approved building consent. Although producer statements do not have statutory status under the Building Act 2004, it should be remembered that:

  • The intent, scope and any limitations of the producer statements are clearly set out
  • It is the responsibility of the design team to ensure that the proposed building work meets the Building Code and the responsibility of the contractor to construct the works in accordance with the contract documents.

For more information, refer to IPENZ Practice Note 1: Guidelines on producer statements on the IPENZ website.

Do Don't
  • Understand the appropriate process and intent when issuing producer statements.
  • Use producer statements as risk transfer tools.

Design peer review

Design peer reviews can be critical in achieving building designs which comply with the Building Code.

  • The scope and type of review should be clarified early in the peer review process.
  • It is recommended that peer reviewers are engaged from the onset of a project, especially for a complex building design.
  • It is generally desirable to have complex building work and Alternative Solutions independently peer reviewed.
  • If a peer review is not going to be commissioned, make sure other processes are adequate to assure compliance with the Building Code. This does not mean you can rely on the building consent authority to identify issues. Remember the responsibility lies with designers to produce code compliant designs.

For more information, refer to ACENZ / IPENZ Practice Note 2: Peer review on the IPENZ website.

Do Don't
  • Engage peer reviewers early in the project, especially for complex designs.
  • Rely on BCAs’ consenting process to assess compliance with the Building Code.

Construction Monitoring

On-site construction monitoring (preferably by the designer who is a Chartered Professional Engineer) is necessary to verify or confirm that projects are built to the design documents. Critical design assumptions and design features (e.g. correct potential plastic hinge zone detailing or assumed separation of secondary elements) may require a higher level of monitoring. An increase in construction monitoring can usually decrease the risks of non-compliance.

However, the level of construction monitoring should suit the size and complexity of the project. Guidance on an appropriate level of monitoring can be found in the matrices in Guidance on Construction monitoring services on the IPENZ website.

Do Don't
  • Provide a suitable level of construction monitoring.
  • Involve the designer in construction monitoring processes.
  • Rely on BCAs’ inspection process as a means of construction monitoring.

Building control system

A basic principle of the building control system is that the Building Code (which is Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 1992) sets out the minimum performance requirements for all new building work. Building owners have the choice to set higher performance levels to achieve better performance, (such as the use of low damage building technologies). In addition, all building work must comply with the Building Code, irrespective of the need for a building consent.

MBIE’s Building Code Handbook provides background information on the building control system. There are also regular MBIE advisories and updates to which practitioners are recommended to subscribe, such as Building Control Updates, Determinations, and Codewords.

Figure 1: Hierarchy of New Zealand building control system

Figure 1: Hierarchy of New Zealand building control system

  • Understand the regulatory environment we operate in.
  • Understand that the legal system includes the Building Act 2004, the Building Regulations and the Building Code, as shown in Figure 1.


  1. Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ) & The Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ), (2003).
    Peer Review: Reviewing the work of another engineer (Practice Note 2)
  2. The Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ), (n.d.).
    Construction Monitoring Services
  3. The Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) & Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ), (2009).
    Structural Engineering Design Office Practice (Practice Note 14)
  4. The Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) & Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ), (2014).
    Guidelines on Producer Statements (3). (Practice Note 1)
  5. Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (2013). 
    Guidance on the use of Certificates of Work, Producer Statements, and Design Features Reports by Chartered Professional Engineers under the new Restricted Building Work regime [PDF 1.6 MB]
  7. Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (2014).
    New Zealand Building Code handbook
  8. New Zealand Construction Industry Council (NZCIC), (Release dates up to 2014).
    Design: Documentation Guidelines on the Masterspec website
  9. Structural Engineering Society New Zealand Inc. (SESOC), (2010). Commercial Building Design Features Report (Member’s template).

All guidance related to B1 Structure

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: