Building failure investigations

Last updated: 23 February 2023

As the central regulator of New Zealand's building system, MBIE is responsible for investigating significant building failures under the Building Act 2004. This allows the building sector to learn, helping prevent future building failures.

An investigation is a formal and structured process conducted by investigators to identify the circumstances and causes of a building failure.

The Minister for Building and Construction or the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) may initiate a building investigation when:

  1. any part of a building has failed in any way, in that it has not performed as expected in light of the requirements that applied to the design and construction of the building; and
  2. the failure resulted, or could have resulted, in the risk of serious injury or death.

A building failure may be investigated more than once (for example, in one or more follow-up investigations after an earlier investigation ends).

How MBIE investigate

MBIE must give written notice of an investigation to the building owner as soon as reasonably practicable. However, the notice does not need to be given before powers of investigation are exercised.

Powers of investigation may be exercised only in relation to the investigation site, which means all or part of the building, any land under or around the building, and any other building on that land that is considered relevant to the building failure.

Powers of investigation include:

  • securing or restricting access to the investigation site for a reasonable period
  • entering the site, including household units (but only with the permission of the occupier or under a warrant)
  • carrying out inspections and taking samples and other evidence from the site
  • requiring reasonable assistance from an owner or occupier of the site
  • requiring a person to provide information or documents that may help determine the circumstances of the building failure
  • sharing relevant information with occupational bodies responsible for managing complaints and discipline about building professionals, or in accordance with another enactment
  • carrying out any works at the investigation site that are necessary to enable another power of investigation to be exercised.

MBIE may engage any suitable person to exercise one or more of these powers on its behalf. Any person who enters an investigation site on behalf of MBIE must show the occupier evidence of their identity and their written authorisation to enter the site.

Findings from a building failure investigation

Findings from building failure investigations may be made publicly available on

Any identifiable person in the report is provided with an opportunity to comment before the report is published.

The report may include the findings of the investigation, any recommendations about building design or construction, and any other matters that arise from the investigation.

Outcomes from an investigation can include, but are not limited to:

  • informing the public about the specific aspects of building design or construction that have been found to contribute to the building failure
  • undertaking further research into specific aspects of the building’s design, construction and/or performance
  • initiating a further investigation into a specific building product or method
  • issuing a product ban
  • making changes to professional competency regimes and requirements
  • making changes to the Building Code or associated compliance methods
  • reviewing and/or making changes to legislation (the Building Act and/or related Regulations).

Requirements of building owners during an investigation

Both building owners and other parties are required to cooperate with MBIE during any building failure investigation.

It is an offence under the Building Act 2004 to:

  • intentionally interfere with an investigation site
  • access an investigation site despite a restriction or prohibition
  • obstruct an investigation
  • fail to provide required information or documents.

Contact us

If you have information relating to a building failure or have specific questions relating to past or current investigations, contact MBIE.

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: