Minor variations


A variation that is minor is a change that does not usually affect compliance with the Building Code – for example, the type of taps used or positioning of kitchen joinery or non-structural walls or door.

Most often the minor variation does not affect the level of Building Code compliance; it simply achieves the same outcome in a different way.

A building consent authority must still be notified about any proposed variation so it can confirm the change is minor, advise how they will deal with it and record the minor variation in writing. Minor variations shouldn’t usually require a Form 2 and, if approved, do not require the issue of an amended building consent. However, all minor variations that are approved must be recorded in writing (for example, a handwritten note on the consented plans and inspection record note).

Examples of minor variations

Examples of variations that are minor to building consents include:

  • substituting one internal lining for a similar internal lining
  • substituting the type of timber treatment
  • minor wall bracing changes
  • a change to a component (for example,fixing bracket)
  • a construction change (for example, the framing method around a window when the window is changed to a door)
  • changing a room’s layout (for example, the position of fixtures in a bathroom or kitchen)
  • changing one brand of insulation for another
  • building work described in schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004.

The following scenarios outline proposed variations that are minor and require an informal amendment to consented building work. (The scenarios in this guidance are to be treated as possible situations where a building consent authority may act in a certain way, rather than an exact narrative of when and how a building consent authority should act. Building consent authorities should seek their own legal and internal policy advice, and also be open to assessing situations on a case-by-case basis.)

Scenario 1: The plans and specification specify wire dog purlin fixings, but the builder wants to use a screw instead. In this case the same level of compliance would be achieved.This is a minor variation.

The building inspector simply records on an inspection report or memorandum that the purlins are screw fixed from the top rather than wire dogged.This note then goes on the consent file.
Scenario 2:A bathroom is approved to be laid out in a particular way. During the project it becomes necessary to move the vanity along the wall to accommodate the door opening and rotate the toilet 90 degrees. In this case, the changes are within the scope of the approved building consent.

This is a minor variation that the building inspector could receive via another drawing showing the new location.This drawing would be added to the consent file as as-built documentation prior to the issue of a code compliance certificate.
Scenario 3: During the construction of a new dwelling, the owner decides to change a large window in the master bedroom to a bi-fold door.The builder is able to show the inspector that the opening size does not change and that the framing around the opening stays generally the same except for the trimmers and sill.

The building inspector considers this a minor variation as the effect of the change on overall compliance is minimal.In this case, the inspector agrees to accept an amended drawing showing the change and updates the consent file,recording the change, his/her decision and reasons for decision.
Scenario 4: The plumbing inspector is undertaking a pre-line plumbing inspection. During the inspection, the plumber advises the inspector that it is proposed the water reticulation pipe work be changed from copper to a polybutylene system.

The inspector considers that although the Building Code requirements will be met by the new product, the inspector requires confirmation from the owner/designer that the change in material is acceptable to the owner/designer.The inspector considers this a minor variation and updates the consent records once confirmation in writing from the owner/designer is received.
Scenario 5: The building inspector receives a call from a builder explaining that during the excavation for a foundation, poor ground has been encountered. The builder explains that an engineer has visited the site and has required an increased width of the footing to provide more bearing.

The building inspector, after discussing the situation with the engineer directly, agrees to receive an as-built drawing for the new foundation detail and a producer statement from the design engineer for both its design and inspection.The building inspector considers this a minor variation and approves the change with the as-built documents, recording the change for the consent file.
Scenario 6: During an inspection on a two-storey split level dwelling, the builder explains that the truss layout has created a situation whereby the bottom chord of a truss impedes headroom on the stair. The builder produces information from the truss manufacturer showing that the bottom chord of the truss can be removed provided certain other work is done to the truss.The information details the proposed work required to be done by the builder.

The inspector accepts the information and records the conversation with the builder on his/her inspection report/memorandum. The inspector takes copies of the information for the consent file and approves the change on site as a minor variation.
Scenario 7: During an inspection of an alteration to an existing kitchen, the inspector identifies that the cabinetry appliances and plumbing fixtures are proposed to be in different places to those shown on the approved building consent. The plumber and builder describe that, even though the position of the cabinets,fittings and kitchen sink are to change, the actual plumbing work will not be substantially affected from what is shown on the approved building consent. The builder also explains that the kitchen window will change from a standard-type window to a garden/greenhouse window.

The inspector considers the information provided on site.The inspector considers there is no adverse effect on Building Code compliance, and therefore the variation is minor, requiring only a new as-built drawing before the final inspection and code compliance certificate is issued.The inspector records this change, their decision and reasons for decision for the consent file.

While the above scenarios may assist in determining what is a minor variation, building consent authorities will still be required to take into account individual circumstances with each variation they are dealing with.

Product substitution can be a minor or major variation.

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: