Examples: Minor variation or amended building consent?

 

The following table sets out examples of situations where a proposed change:

  • meets the definition of a minor variation
  • does not meet the definition of a minor variation (ie the proposed change would need to be dealt with by the BCA issuing an amendment to the building consent).

Examples of alterations that do not change the footprint of the building, location of internal loadbearing supports or fire safety aspects

Examples of minor variationsExamples of amendments

During the construction of a new two-storey dwelling on a concrete slab, the owner proposes to enlarge a small window in the guest bedroom on the ground floor. The builder draws this to the attention of the building inspector during an on-site inspection; the builder is able to show the inspector that although the opening size will change, there will not be any point loads on the new lintel (provided it complies with NZS 3604) and any wall-bracing requirements will not be affected.

The building inspector accepts this as a minor variation as it does not significantly deviate from the original design and will have a minimal effect on overall compliance with the structural stability requirements. The building inspector records the decision and the reasons for it on the inspection notes and makes a notation on the approved plans of what has been approved.

Note: It is important to ensure this approval is recorded on the consent file. This ensures that the file and council records are accurate; but it is also a legal requirement under the Act and the BCA accreditation regulations.

On the same job the owner proposes to change a small window in the master bedroom to a large floor-to-ceiling picture window. However, the new lintel will incur a point load and the transfer of loads to the lower storey will be affected. This will require structural engineering design and could also have implications for Energy efficiency, Safety from falling and Hazardous building materials.

This work would be considered a significant deviation from the approved consent plans and specifications. Subsequently, this is not considered a minor variation but is work that would require an application for an amendment to the building consent.

In this case the building inspector would advise the builder that this work must not proceed until the BCA grants the amendment. The building inspector would then record the decision not to approve the minor variation on the inspection notes and update relevant council records.

The plans and specification specify wire dog purlin fixings,but the builder wants to use a screw instead, and seeks approval for a minor variation from the building inspector.

The building inspector grants the minor variation because it does not significantly deviate from the approved building consent. The same purpose and function will be achieved. The building inspector simply inspects the work and records on the inspection notes that the purlins are screw fixed from the top rather than wire dogged. The building inspector notes this on the consent file and updates the consent records when arriving back at the office.

An owner wants to change part of the roof structure design from a trussed roof to a skillion roof using NZS 3604 rafters and seeks approval for a minor variation from the building inspector.

This would not be considered a minor variation because it is a significant departure from the approved building consent design as it is a completely different structural system. Other elements of the building could significantly be affected such as insulation and bracing requirements. The building inspector advises the owner that the builder must not do any more work on the roof until an amendment to the building consent (including new plans detailing the construction change) has been applied for and the BCA has granted the amendment. The building inspector then records the decision not to approve the minor variation on the inspection notes and updates relevant council records.

The owner of a single-storey residential dwelling wishes to remove a large section of a load-bearing wall to accommodate a breakfast bar as part of a revised layout for a proposed kitchen. They engage a structural engineer as the span for the new lintel is outside the scope of NZS 3604 requiring specific engineering design and to provide wall bracing calculations. The owner obtains a producer statement, structural calculations and wall bracing details from the engineer for this new work. The builder engaged by the owner approaches the building inspector during the next inspection seeking a minor variation and hands over the additional information from the engineer.

The building inspector accepts the additional information for the new lintel. The building inspector then approves the minor variation (prior to the work being done) as the proposed minor variation is within the scope of the original building consent design and the information provided is sufficient to satisfy the building inspector that Building Code compliance would be achieved. The building inspector then records the decision to grant the minor variation on the inspection notes. When back at the office the building inspector updates the consent file and consent records.

An owner wants to extend the kitchen by knocking out an external wall and adding four square metres of additional floor area to the kitchen seeking approval for a minor variation from the building inspector.

This is not considered a minor variation because there are lots of Building Code clauses to consider such as Water supplies, Foul water, Structure, Durability, External Moisture, and possible planning implications. The building inspector informs the owner that an amendment to the building consent will be required as the proposed minor variation deviates significantly from the original building consent. The building inspector then records the decision for the refusal to grant the minor variation on the inspection notes.

When back at the office the building inspector updates the consent file and consent records. The BCA awaits an amendment application before this part of the work proceeds.

Additional or reconfigured sanitary fixtures where the structure is not affected

Examples of minor variationsExamples of amendments

A bathroom on an upper level is approved to be laid out in a particular way. During the project the owner proposes to move the vanity from the outside wall to an interior wall. They contact a BCA official to seek a minor variation explaining that the additional pipe work will not affect any structural elements such as floor joists or wall framing and G13 compliance will still be achieved.

The BCA official agrees to approve this as a minor variation as the proposed building work does not deviate significantly from the original building consent design. However, the BCA official informs the owner that upon completion of the work they will require a revised floor plan and plumbing schematic for their records. The decision to grant the minor variation is recorded in the form of a file note and relevant consent records are updated.

In a similar situation an owner wants to convert an existing wardrobe in an adjacent bedroom into a WC compartment and approaches a BCA official for a minor variation. This work would not be considered a minor variation as this work deviates significantly from the original building consent design.

The BCA official advises that this requires a formal amendment to the building consent as issues such as Internal moisture,Ventilation, Durability and Personal hygiene will need to be considered. The BCA official then notes the decision not to grant the minor variation as a file note on the consent file and updates relevant consent records.

The plumbing inspector is undertaking a pre-line plumbing inspection. During the inspection, the plumber advises the plumbing inspector that the owner wants to add a shower head above the bath.

The plumbing inspector considers this a minor variation because there will be no additional Building Code requirements regarding Internal Moisture or Hazardous building materials (such as safety glass) as the walls surrounding the bath are already covered in waterproof linings and the proposed shower is clear of any windows. The plumbing inspector notes the proposed minor variation on the approved plans and records the decision (and reasons for the decision) to grant the minor variation on the inspection notes and consent file.

When back at the office the plumbing inspector also updates relevant consent records. The next day the plumbing inspector inspects the new plumbing work.

An owner intends to replace a bath with a tiled open wet area shower, proposing a minor variation to the plumbing inspector.

The plumbing inspector considers that this is not a minor variation because it is a significant change to a complex construction method affecting a number of different Building Code requirements such as Internal Moisture and Durability and advises that the owner should apply for an amendment to the building consent providing the wet area shower design. The plumbing inspector then records this discussion on the inspection notes, places a copy on the consent file and updates relevant consent records. Note: Internal wet area showers can be complicated to design and construct properly and have a high failure rate.

Replacement using comparable materials or components in the same or similar position

Examples of minor variationsExamples of amendments

The building inspector visits a new dwelling to inspect the roof installation. During the inspection, the building inspector identifies that although the specifications and drawings show profiled metal roofing the owner wants to use pressed metal tiles instead. The roofer asks the building inspector to give approval to a minor variation on site.

The building inspector considers this a minor variation because compliance with the Building Code is still achieved and the change is well within the scope of the original building consent design. The building inspector approves the minor variation and records the proposed minor variation on the inspection notes and consent file, as well as dates and initials on the approved building consent plans. However, the building inspector informs the roofer that, upon completion of the work and before issue of CCC, revised plans illustrating this change will be required. When back at the office the building inspector also updates relevant consent records.

In a similar situation, the owner wishes to change the roofing to wooden shingles, seeking approval for a minor variation.

The building inspector explains that the proposed roofing is outside the scope of the Acceptable Solution, requiring an alternative solution assessment.The proposed change is not considered minor as it deviates significantly from the original building consent design. The roofer is advised that this work requires an amendment to the building consent. The building inspector records the on-site discussion with the roofer on the inspection notes, places a copy on the consent file and updates relevant consent records.

The plumber contacts the plumbing inspector advising that the designer wants to change the water reticulation pipework from copper to a polybutylene system and seeks approval for a minor variation.

The plumbing inspector considers this a minor variation because the Building Code requirements would be met by the new product. However, the plumbing inspector advises that approval from the consent applicant/owner is required first for the change in material before the minor variation can be granted, recording this as a file note. The plumbing inspector then updates relevant consent records.

A plumber wishes to use an alternative aluminium piping system from overseas that they have read about on the internet, approaching a BCA official for a minor variation approval.

The official considers this not to be a minor variation because the new piping system is unfamiliar and falls outside the Acceptable Solution, requiring an alternative solution assessment. They then advise the plumber that the consent applicant needs to apply for an amendment to the building consent, demonstrating how Building Code compliance would be achieved using this alternative product. The official records the conversation with the plumber in form of a file note on the consent file and updates relevant consent records.

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: