Last updated: 10 October 2017
Building control functions must be performed by competent employees and/or contractors within a building consent authority.
The objective of the regulation
Regulation 9 of the Building (Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2006 (the Regulations) is intended to ensure all building control functions (as defined by regulation 3) are performed by competent employees and/or contractors. It aims to ensure building control officials (BCOs) work within their ability and competency when making building consent (consent) decisions.
Regulation 9 is available on the Legislation website.
MBIE’s guidance on meeting the accreditation requirement
Checklist for regulation 9 outlines the minimum criteria for compliance.
The policies, procedures and systems required by regulation 9 must, at minimum cover the requirements detailed below. If the accreditation requirements are met through a BCA’s parent organisation’s workflow management system or workforce plan, the accreditation body will require access to that plan or system for the purposes of an accreditation assessment.
In order to achieve the requirements of regulation 9, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recommends (but does not require) that a BCA’s system for allocating building control work is linked to its forecast workflow, and the capacity and capability map required by regulation 8. There is also a link to regulation 10 and the requirement to assess the competency of employees and, where appropriate, to regulation 17(2)(c) and the requirement to work within any scope of accreditation.
The following activities are not subject to the requirements of regulation 9:
- receiving and accepting building consent or code compliance certificate applications
- checking building consent applications to ensure that they contain all the required information
- classifying work according to the BCA’s classification framework
- allocating applications or inspection appointments to employees or contractors
- accepting and making inspection bookings
- printing and sending consents or code compliance certificates to applicants or owners.
Classifying building control work
In order to ensure that a BCA allocates work to employees or contractors who are competent, a BCA must classify its building control functions consistently under a system suitable for establishing competency of an employee performing building control functions, eg using the National BCA competency assessment system (NCAS) assessment levels.
Table one: National BCA competency assessment levels
|Residential 1||Residential outbuildings and ancillary buildings as defined by the Building Regulations 1992. This includes single household detached dwellings designed to a common standard that are single storey and have an E2/AS1 risk matrix score less than or equal to 6.|
|Residential 2||Detached dwellings designed to a common standard that are less than or equal to two storeys and have an E2/AS1 risk matrix score less than or equal to 12.|
|Residential 3||Detached dwellings or other dwellings that are less than or equal to three storeys but limited to vertical plane fire separation and direct egress to the outside and have an E2/AS1 risk matrix score of 13–20. This level also includes specifically designed residential cladding systems, components, detailing and junctions where a risk matrix score of greater than 20 has been calculated.|
|Commercial 1||Commercial, industrial and communal non-residential buildings and their associated outbuildings and ancillary buildings equal to or less than two storeys and an occupancy load of equal to or less than 100 people. Sleeping Residential or Sleeping Accommodation buildings up to two stories and with horizontal fire separation.|
|Commercial 2||Commercial, industrial, communal residential and communal non-residential buildings equal to or less than four storeys and an occupancy load of equal to or less than 500 people.
Sleeping care or sleeping detention facilities that are single storey.
|Commercial 3||All uses of buildings that are over four storeys high, or contain over 500 occupants or sleeping care or sleeping detention facilities greater than single storey.|
|Other||Building control functions that are not consent, inspection or code compliance decision making including applications for project information memoranda, the issuing of compliance schedules and the making of notices to fix.|
A BCA’s classification framework does not need to be complex. The NCAS assessment levels have been designed to capture most building activity. MBIE acknowledges that innovative and unusual building design techniques or construction methods may not obviously fit the described levels. However, this does not result in the need to create new assessment or competency levels or sub-categories within the levels.
Where a consent application is made relying on an alternative solution or includes a building design technique or construction method that is innovative or unusual, a BCA should:
- determine the competency level or levels required to undertake the building control work
- allocate the work to an appropriate staff member or members with the required competencies
- record the decision and reasons for it by way of a short note on the building file.
A BCA may divide up components of the work between one or more employees or contractors with different competency levels who may then work together. For example, a consent application may be received for building work at commercial 1 (C1) level that includes a unique engineering design for an internal atrium using an alternative solution. A BCO competent to C1 may be allocated all components of the consent to decide, with the exception of the atrium. Advice on the code compliance of the atrium may be allocated to the BCA’s contracted engineering expert. The BCO can then use the advice of the engineering expert when deciding to issue a consent.
Alterations to buildings
A BCA’s approach to applications for alterations to existing buildings should include an assessment of the competency needed to perform the building control functions associated with the alteration, not the building as a whole. For example, the building as a whole may fit within the commercial 2 (C2) competency level, but the alteration may be minor and can be assessed by a BCO with competency at C1. As with the process for managing innovation, the BCA:
- should determine the competency required to undertake the work
- allocate the work to an appropriate staff member or staff members with the competency
- record the decision and reasons for it by way of short note on the building file.
In another example, a consent application may be received to install an ensuite in a building that would be classified as residential 3. However, the building work fits within the residential 1 (R1) assessment level. The work can be allocated to a BCO assessed as competent at R1.
Allocating work to competent employees or contractors
A BCA must have a system for allocating building control function work to competent employees and/or contractors. It can use its capacity and capability map, and allocate work to:
- employees in training, if they are supervised and their work is peer reviewed
- contractors who:
- have been granted power and authorities under the BCA’s delegation framework
- are available ‘on demand’ to provide technical leadership or specialist expertise
- another BCA’s staff members who may be specifically named as part of an arrangement
- another BCA if part of an arrangement or formal transfer.
A BCA must record the BCO to whom it has allocated the work it performs. Where the work is performed by another BCA, it is sufficient for the primary BCA to simply record the name of the BCA, not the individual staff member performing the building control function. A BCA should also record when the work has been completed, and the outcome, to comply with regulation 6.
A BCA’s system for allocating building control work does not have to be complex. It may consist of a basic flow chart with guidance for the staff member allocating the work. The staff member may work on the front-counter and receive and check applications, they may be the staff member who enters the applications into the consent processing system, or staff member who performs building control functions. To comply with this requirement, the staff member allocating work could:
- complete a work allocation or task assignment sheet and retain a record for file while providing the sheet to the relevant BCO
- update a spreadsheet or other work management system or record noting who is processing an application.
An example of how a BCA may choose to allocate work is where a consent application may be received for building work on a building with a classified use of community service, C1. Fire safety and mechanical ventilation need to be assessed. The staff member who has the competency to assess this category of building has a backlog of applications and is too busy to assess this building in the required timeframes. The application can be allocated to a staff member who has been identified as being competent for single-storey residential buildings only, but has had some experience in fire safety and mechanical ventilation. Their work is then supervised and peer reviewed by the competent employee.
In another example, an application may be received and classified as C2. It includes an alternative solution fire design using the verification method. The BCA does not have any in-house competency for considering alternative solution fire designs on commercial buildings. This work is allocated to an external contractor who has the competency to perform this type of work.
The system should provide for work to be re-classified where the staff member processing it determines this is necessary. The appropriate re-classification of work should not result in the accreditation body making a finding of non-compliance with this regulatory requirement. It should be seen as the demonstration of a system that is both appropriate for purpose and consistently and effectively implemented. It should also support the BCA to ensure that it works within its scope of accreditation (if relevant).
Read about the National BCA competency assessment system.
You can read the following on the Legislation website:
The E2/AS1 risk matrix has further information.
Alternative Solutions has further information on compliance with the Building Code.