Public buildings

All public buildings are subject to the Building Act 2004 and the Building Code. Learn more about the types of buildings that are likely to be categorised as public buildings.

Premises with free and open access will typically be classified as premises intended for public use. Examples include shopping centres as well as premises where the public can enter on payment of a fee, such as a sports stadium, swimming pool or zoo.

A reception area that is open to the public, even though the remainder of the building is closed off, would be categorised as premises intended to be open to members of the public.

Premises intended for public use are likely to include, but are not limited to:

  • schools and childcare centres
  • hospitals and rest homes
  • premises providing public accommodation, such as hostels and guest houses
  • places of assembly, including churches, cinemas and conference facilities
  • clubrooms and recreation centres with public access
  • restaurants and bars
  • shops
  • offices. 

Building Act 2004: Section 118: Access and facilities for persons with disabilities to and within buildings

(1) If provision is being made for the construction or alteration of any building to which members of the public are to be admitted, whether for free or on payment of a charge, reasonable and adequate provision by way of access, parking provisions, and sanitary facilities must be made for persons with disabilities who may be expected to—

(a) visit or work in that building; and
(b) carry out normal activities and processes in that building.

(2) This section applies, but is not limited, to buildings that are intended to be used for, or associated with, 1 or more of the purposes specified in Schedule 2.

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: