Why early notification of variations matters
For designers, builders and building owners, early identification and notification of a variation and likely amendment is critical.
This early notification of a proposed variation to the building consent authority is a major step in achieving a quicker turnaround in approving an amendment and helping to keep the building project on track.
When the remaining work is completed as per the amended consent where applicable, it will make it easier for the building consent authority to carry out future inspections, establish compliance and issue the code compliance certificate in a timely manner.
Who is responsible?
Everyone involved in a building project has a part to play in making sure variations and amendments are handled effectively.
Designers, builders and project managers
Designers, builders and project managers should ensure the property owner and the building consent authority are made aware of any proposed variations as soon as they are identified and seek guidance from the building consent authority on how the variation will be handled.
This is good practice as the property owner is ultimately responsible for the building work, its compliance and for obtaining the code compliance certificate at the end.
Designers, architects, builders, project managers and property owners should then work together to provide any information the building consent authority asks for to justify the requested variation to facilitate a prompt approval process.
For the building consent authority to assess proposed variations, the applicant must give the building consent authority ‘reasonable grounds’(section 49(1) of the Building Act 2004) on which to consider it.
In most cases the applicant will need to supply specific information (for example, calculations, schematics, technical specifications or drawings detailing and justifying the proposed variation and showing how it complies with the Building Code).
If the variation is major, or if the building consent authority requires further information, the applicant may want to provide one or more of the following:
- reference to relevant Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods
- reference to relevant Standards
- expert technical opinions/producer statements
- in-service history information
- results of independent laboratory or field tests (for example, BRANZ Appraisal)
- relevant extracts from manufacturers’ technical (non-promotional) literature
- product certificate.
Building consent authorities
All variations, whether minor or major, need to be communicated to the building consent authority, as it has sole responsibility for deciding whether a proposed variation can be approved and whether it represents a minor or major change.
On being notified of a proposed variation, the building consent authority will advise the applicant (owner or owner’s agent - for example, builder, designer, project manager) whether the variation is considered minor or major, and determine what action will be required.
Building consent authorities must advise the applicant of the most suitable method for seeking an amendment to the building consent and to properly document any changes, decisions and reasons for decisions that happen.
Building consent authorities should provide consent applicants with information about when and how to deal with amendments to building consents.
This information should be readily available on websites, front counter information and with each consent when issued.
Building consent authorities should consider whether proposed variations from the approved building consent will affect inspections, and revise the inspections schedule, as and when necessary.