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Considering and amending the building consent

 

All building consent authorities should have systems and processes in place for managing variations, whether major or minor. The key is to consider the applicant’s explanation and supplied evidence about how a proposed variation meets the performance requirements of the Building Code.

A good rule of thumb is that what gets built needs to be accurately represented on the building consent file/documentation at the end of the job. This documentation represents the basis for the building consent authority’s decision to grant the building consent and code compliance certificate.

There is some flexibility in how this decision is reached.

  • For minor variations, it may involve phone, fax, email or face-to-face communication between the building inspector and the applicant to confirm things, resulting in an amendment being noted on the original consented plans, signed by the applicant and approved by the building consent authority. The outcome of any communication needs to be recorded on the consent file/site inspection report by the building inspector and followed up with a drawing showing the change by the designer or builder. This approach helps to allow the building official to focus on verifying the amendment as quickly as possible.
  • Building consent authorities may require a formal amendment when it is considered appropriate and reasonable. The ‘minor/major’ distinction is designed to assist building consent authorities to make this decision.
  • For variations that are major, applicants should be asked to apply for a more formal amendment and submit revised plans and specifications accompanied by a Form 2 application form.

Note: The Building Consent Authority Accreditation and Registration Scheme accommodates an appropriate and reasonable approach to dealing with variations and amendments. Building consent authorities have the opportunity to establish their own policies on what variations are major or minor, criteria for approving these, and to develop the necessary systems to respond.

Timeframes

All formal amendments must be processed by the building consent authority within 20 working days. Our expectations are that these amendments would ideally be given some priority over other consent applications by the building consent authority, as there can often be tradespeople awaiting an amendment’s approval to continue some part of the building work on site.

Particularly with minor variations, building consent authorities should make increased use of technology (for example, faxes and emails) to help achieve a speedier turnaround.

Summary

  1. All building work must comply with the Building Code (section 17 of the Building Act), including all proposed variations.
  2. Proposed variations to a building consent need to be notified to the local building consent authority as early as possible.
  3. It is the building consent authority’s responsibility to determine what action should be taken with the proposed variation and whether it is minor or major, and to make the appropriate approvals.
  4. All changes need to be properly documented.
  5. Building consent authorities need to have sound processes and systems for handling proposed variations in the most time-efficient manner.

Product substitution and variations has more information.

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: