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Restricted building work (RBW)

Last updated: 21 March 2016

If you're building or renovating a house or small apartment complex, you need to know about restricted building work and who can carry out or supervise the work.

Restricted building work is work which is critical to the structure and durability of a residential building. It emerged to protect your family home and ensure it is not affected by any weathertight or structural issues.

To make sure your home is durable, restricted building work can only be carried out or supervised by tradespeople who are licensed building practitioners (LBPs).

LBPs are designers, carpenters, brick and blocklayers, roofers, external plasterers, or site and foundation specialists who have been assessed to be competent to carry out work essential to a building's structure.

When renovating or building a residential property, some of the work that needs a building consent might be restricted building work.

Your designer will need to identify all of the restricted building work in your project when they draw your building plans. They will need to include this information in a certificate of work.

It is the building owner's responsibility to employ an LBP who is licensed for the specified type of restricted building work. You can ask to see an LBP's identification card or check the online register.

Work that is restricted

Restricted building work only relates to residential houses and small to medium sized apartment buildings undergoing:

  • construction
  • alterations
  • design.

  Restricted building work is everything that involves or affects your building's:

  • primary structure
  • weathertightness (work done to the outside of the building to protect it from the weather)
  • fire safety system design (work that involves elements intended to protect people and property from fire in multi-unit residential buildings).

Your designer will identify any restricted building work in your project by looking at:

  • the kind of work you want to do
  • the type of building being worked on
  • the building elements being worked on and whether they affect:
    • the primary structure
    • external moisture management systems
    • the design of fire safety systems.

Work involving the primary structure of your home

Any work that alters the primary structure of your home is restricted building work. This is work that contributes to the resistance of vertical and horizontal loads such as:

  • foundations and subfloor framing
  • floors
  • walls
  • roof
  • columns and beams
  • bracing.

Carrying out Restricted Building Work

Restricted building work can only be carried out or supervised by a person licensed in the relevant trade class.

The trade classes are:

  • design
  • carpentry
  • site
  • external plastering
  • bricklaying or blocklaying
  • foundation
  • roofing work.

For example, if your project involves any external plastering it must be carried out by a person licensed in the external plastering class.

However, there are overlaps within the LBP Scheme. A person licensed in the carpentry class may also carry out or supervise:

  • construction of concrete foundations and pile foundations
  • installation of lightweight profiled metal roofing.

Certified plumbers and gasfitters are automatically treated as LBPs in the following classes:

  • brick and blocklaying
  • external plastering
  • roofing.

If your project will cost $30,000 or more, you must put a contract in place with your LBP. The contract will need to set out the requirements for each party.

It is a good idea to sign a contract with your LBP for restricted building work, even if your total costs will be less than $30,000.

You can ask your LBP to keep a record of their work, including work-in-progress photographs. These photos can act as safety net if any disputes arise later in the building process.

Choose the right people has more information about LBPs.

Why contracts are valuable explains when contracts are a requirement.

Your rights and obligations includes ‘Do your homework’ booklets for homeowners and contractors.

Designing for Restricted Building Work

New Zealand Registered Architects and Chartered Professional Engineers are automatically treated as LBPs in the design class.

This means they can carry out designs for restricted building work. Design work is the preparation of drawings and specifications for buildings which will be constructed or altered.

If your designer is preparing drawings and other documents for any restricted building work, you need to make sure they have the appropriate licence or qualification.

The plans and specifications that support your building consent are a very important part of the process. Your builder builds to the plans, and council signs off on them.

Notify your council of your LBPs

Your building consent application should list the names of LBPs who will be carrying out or supervising restricted building work if it is known at the time of application.

This part of the application makes sure all parties are aware only LBPs will carry out or supervise restricted building work.

Naming LBPs on the consent application is helpful as it:

  • reminds you to ensure the LBPs working on your project are licensed
  • gives your council a reference to check the correct people are undertaking the approved restricted building work as construction progresses.

There may be times when you haven't engaged with a building contractor to do the work before you submit your building consent application. You should name your LBPs as soon as you can, but before restricted building work construction starts.

The sooner you let your council know your LBPs’ names, the sooner you will meet your restricted building work requirements. There will also be less for your council to do during the inspection and code compliance certificate issuing process.

If an LBP leaves and is replaced during the building process, you will need to let your council know. The LBP leaving the job will need to give you a record of the work they have completed. The new LBP completing the work should give you a record of their work from that point on (this can be in the quote or contract).

Build to the consent has information on letting your council know if your plans change.

Work that is not restricted

If you don't need a building consent for your work, then it doesn't contain any restricted building work.

However, if you do need a consent it doesn't automatically mean your project contains restricted building work.

If your project does not involve work to the primary structure of the building or its weathertightness, then it will probably not be restricted.

Below are some examples of work that will need a building consent, but not necessarily containing restricted building work:

  • fitting new sanitary fixtures where there were not any previously (such as in new kitchen or ensuite)
  • installing a wood burner
  • installing a domestic wind turbine
  • installing a domestic swimming pool
  • installing a cable car to a home
  • installing other specified systems in small to medium apartments (such as smoke alarms or a lift)
  • installing insulation to external walls in a home.

If you live in an apartment, or are a building manager or manufacturer, keep in mind that restricted building work doesn't apply to:

  • demolition or removal work
  • mixed use apartment (such as buildings with shops)
  • ancillary and outbuildings (detached garages, carports, bridges, swimming pools, etc)
  • any commercial building of any height
  • any large apartment building (exceeding 10m in height)
  • off-site manufacture of building components (such as pre-built frames and trusses)
  • manufacture design (such as design of a proprietary fire alarm system).

Providing Records of Work

Each LBP who carries out or supervises any of your restricted building work must provide you (or the building consent holder) and your council with a Record of Building Work or Certificate of Design Work.

This is also known as a Memorandum, and it needs to detail all aspects of restricted building work carried out or supervised by each LBP.

Your LBP cannot contract out of this obligation. There could be disciplinary action and an application penalty if a Record or Certificate of Building Work is not provided.

You must have a copy of your LBP's Record or Certificate of Building Work because you will need to submit it to your council for a code compliance certificate at the end of the project.

Your council will put the Record or Certificate of Building Work on your property file. This provides a publicly available record of which LBPs did restricted building work to your home.

Your LBP must have the appropriate trade licence to sign off restricted building work. If your LBP only has a site licence, they cannot supervise or sign off the work. The site licence is a voluntary licence to show the holder has been assessed as competent in site supervision.

You may also find it helpful to refer to Guidance on the use of Certificates of Work, Producer Statements and Design Features Reports.

We produced the Guidance in response to the high volume of restricted building work carried out to repair and rebuild houses affected by the Canterbury Earthquakes, but which has national application.

Guidance on the use of Certificates of Work, Producer Statements and Design Features Reports by Chartered Professional Engineers under the Restricted Building Work regime.

Information for building officials

In the consent of restricted building work, a house is:

  • a free-standing, fully detached building consisting of a single residential unit.

A small to medium sized apartment is a building that:

  • contains two or more residential units (apartments) or residential facilities (such as a foyer, laundry, garage, etc)
  • does not contain commercial units or facilities
  • has a maximum height of less than 10m (the vertical distance between the highest point of its roof – excluding aerials, chimneys, flagpoles and vents – and the lowest point of the ground).

If a building consent authority detects that unlicensed tradespersons are carrying out (without supervision by a LBP) or supervising restricted building work then it should:

  • require that building work stop
  • issue a Notice to Fix requiring that an appropriately licensed trade LBP be engaged to carry out or supervise the restricted building work for the rest of the project
  • refer the matter to us to consider what action to take.

If you know of a tradesperson who is carrying out or supervising restricted building work without a licence, you can make a complaint against them.

Complain about a building practitioner explains the process.

Information for carpenters

If you are a practitioner with a licence in the carpentry class, the following is an example of the restricted building work you can carry out or supervise:

Foundations and floors

  • prepare site for construction, including taking levels on site and setting building out on site
  • excavate and prepare for footings and slab on ground in accordance with documentation
  • construct and erect formwork for footings, foundation walls and floors
  • fabricate, place and tie reinforcing steel and steel mesh
  • receive, place, finish and cure concrete
  • attend to and check concrete masonry structures.

Construct floor framing

  • install timber sheet flooring
  • install timber strip flooring
  • install suspended beams
  • install pre-cast and pre-fabricated elements
  • excavate and prepare for slab on ground in accordance with documentation
  • construct and erect formwork for floors
  • fix bearers, stringers, bracing
  • pile footing excavations
  • fix sub-floor brace systems.

Walls and columns

  • construct and erect wall framing
  • construct and erect internal linings and bracing systems
  • install pre-cast and pre-fabricated elements
  • erect some exterior claddings
  • construct and erect exterior joinery
  • construct and install penetrations and flashings
  • install facings
  • install scribers
  • install seals
  • form cavities
  • install profiled metal wall cladding.

Roofs

  • construct and erect roof framing (including trusses)
  • install lightweight profiled metal roofing only, including:
    • flashings
    • facings
    • seals.

If you have any specialist sub-contractors working for you, such as window installers or aluminium flashing kit installers, and they are not licensed, you must supervise their restricted building work. You must then detail this in the Record of Building Work.

Supervising restricted building work

When it comes to restricted building work, supervision means providing control, direction and oversight of the work to an extent that ensures the building work:

  • is performed competently
  • complies with the building consent.

If you're an LBP who is supervising restricted building work, you don't need to be on-site at all times. However, you must supervise sufficient aspects of the work in order to take responsibility for the work’s Building Code compliance.

You are putting your trade licence at risk if the work you supervised is found to be sub-standard.

Information for foundation work

If you are a practitioner with a licence for foundation work, the following is an example of the restricted building work you can carry out or supervise:

  • Excavate and prepare for footings and slab-on-ground in accordance with documentation including:
    • prepare and carry out excavations taking into account position, size, line, level and depth
    • apply damp proofing material (membrane or emulsion)
    • place graded hardfill.
  • Construct and erect formwork for footings, foundation walls and floors including:
    • formwork constructed to line, level, plumb and height
    • erect and dismantle temporary formwork support systems.
  • Fabricate and place reinforcing steel and steel mesh including:
    • bars
    • mesh
    • stirrups
    • inks.
  • Prepare to place/pour concrete including:
    • damp proof membrane confirmed.
  • Receive, place, finish and cure concrete including:
    • concrete placed and compacted
    • concrete finished and cured.

LBPs with a foundation licence are also able to do the following restricted building work in relation to the construction and alteration of concrete or timber pile foundations:

  • space piles at specified intervals
  • place piles to line, level, height and plumb
  • receive, place, finish and cure concrete including:
    • concrete placed and compacted
    • concrete finished and cured
  • fix bearers, stringers and bracing
  • pile footing excavations
  • fix sub-floor brace systems.

Information for designers and architects

As a designer or architect, you will have to make decisions for the building project about how compliance with the Building Code will be achieved.

When you are preparing design plans, specifications and documents for the building consent application, make sure you provide enough relevant information.

A design summary is a helpful way to show the council why you have made certain design choices. It is a list of how your design complies with the relevant Building Code clauses.

Providing a design summary

You do not have to use or provide a design summary for your council but it is very useful and is becoming industry best practice.

A design summary can:

  • help you and the council understand how the design will comply with the Building Code
  • show which parts of the project relate to Building Code Compliance (or to construction, or to contract)
  • give references to design documents and details
  • act as a checklist during construction to show where design plans might need a variation, amendment or a new building consent
  • help reduce the consent processing time and avoid costly delays.

Depending on what you have agreed with your client, you may be the person submitting the building consent application to the council. You may also need to suggest LBPs to your client.

Information for brick and block layers

If you are a practitioner with a licence for brick and block laying work, the following is an example of the restricted building work you can carry out or supervise:

Structural Masonry

  • prepare reinforcing steel of correct grade, dimensions, and size according to specifications and drawings
  • lay masonry units, including:
    • prepare mortar
    • select appropriate masonry units
    • lay using the correct bond to leave cores uninterrupted
    • form clean out ports
    • place and tie reinforcing steel according to specifications and drawings
    • prepare cavity and closing off clean out ports
  • place grout into cores and cavities.

Brick veneer

  • lay a limited foundation wall to a maximum height of 1.2 metres
  • ensure openings are flashed and building wrap is fixed
  • lay brick veneer and related masonry units including:
    • select and lay veneer masonry units using the correct bond
    • make provision for clean out ports in first row
    • provision of weep holes according to NZ Standard requirements
    • ensure equivalent vent holes provided in last course
    • screw wall ties according to NZ Standard requirements
  • create control joints
  • lintel installation for openings.

Licensed or certifying plumbers and gas fitters can carry out and supervise fitting and sealing or flashing of pipework through exterior walls, and certain roofing and cladding work in the ordinary course of their work.

Information for external plasterers

If you are a practitioner with a licence for external plastering, the following is an example of the restricted building work you can carry out or supervise:

Solid Plastering

  • check and prepare existing and new solid surfaces for plastering
  • check and prepare frame construction, substrate and reinforcing for plastering
  • apply scratch coat
  • apply flanking coat to prepared walls and soffits
  • apply plaster finishing coat to exterior surfaces.

Proprietary Plaster Cladding Systems (PPCS)

  • for Exterior Insulating Finishing System (EIFS):
    • check framing, flash, measure, cut and fix substrate
    • check substrate, apply base coat and reinforce
  • for rebated fibre cement: check substrate and apply jointing compound to rebated joint
  • for lightweight fibre cement: check substrate, apply base coat and reinforce
  • for rebated fibre cement, lightweight fibre cement and EIFS:
    • apply a proprietary levelling plaster to a solid substrate
    • apply finishing coats to prepared proprietary plaster cladding substrates.

This restricted building work is listed with regards to the installation of a new external plaster system. Renovations can also fall under restricted building work.

Information for roofers

If you are a practitioner with a licence in the roofing class, the following is an example of the restricted building work you can carry out or supervise the construction or installation of:

Concrete or clay tile roof

  • Undertake preparation for installation:
    • determine batten set out
    • set out bottom course
    • set out valley
    • secure and lay underlay
    • install valley trays and flashings
  • pin out roof
  • lay roof underlay
  • fix battens
  • load tiles on to roof and lay in sequence
  • fix tiles
  • fit cut tiles (for valleys and hips)
  • fit top course
  • install roof accessories
  • install flashing
  • install penetrations
  • install other accessories
  • bed and point accessories
  • inspect finished roof and correct defects.

Profiled metal roof

  • Undertake preparation for installation:
    • determine fixing pattern
    • confirm underlay and support, and under flashings
  • load roof materials on to work area
  • mark and pre-drill sheets
  • fix roof cladding
  • install penetrations
  • install accessories
  • measure and install flashings
  • inspect finished roof and correct defects.

Metal tile roof

  • Undertake preparation for installation:
    • determine batten set out
    • set out bottom course
  • pin out roof
  • lay roof underlay
  • install valley trays
  • fix battens
  • load tiles onto roof
  • fix tiles
  • fit cut tiles (for valleys and hips)
  • fit top course
  • nail off to manufacturers’ specifications
  • install roof accessories
  • flash penetrations and other accessories
  • inspect finished roof and correct defects.

Roof or deck membrane

  • Undertake preparation for installation:
    • check substrate (including material, moisture content, falls, fixings, soundness)
    • remove loose material
    • tape plywood joints
    • install accessories - scuppers, substrate vents, overflows, sumps and forming rebates
    • install drip flashings
  • load membrane onto roof
  • arrange membrane orientation and cut to length
  • apply adhesive and lay membrane
  • apply seam tapes to waterproof joints and laps
  • pressure roll membrane and laps, chases and pressure bar flashings
  • finish membrane to upstands
  • flash roof penetrations
  • inspect finished roof and correct defects
  • carry out water test.

Torch on roof or deck membrane

  • Undertake preparation for installation:
    • check substrate (including moisture content, falls, fixings, soundness)
    • remove loose material
    • install accessories - scuppers, substrate vents, sumps and forming rebates
    • install drip flashings
  • load and arrange sheet and lap orientation (including cutting)
  • apply primer and allow to dry
  • apply under flashings
  • torch on membrane to substrate
  • torch and fuse the end and side laps, chases and pressure bar flashings
  • finish membrane to upstands
  • flash roof penetrations
  • apply surface coatings
  • inspect finished roof and correct defects.

Liquid membrane roof or deck

  • Undertake preparation for installation:
    • check substrate (including moisture content, falls, fixings, soundness)
    • remove loose material
    • rectify and fill defects to substrate
    • install accessories - scuppers, overflows, sumps, substrate vents
    • install drip flashings
  • apply primer and allow to dry
  • apply penetration and joint reinforcing strips to substrate
  • apply membrane
  • finish membrane upstands and drip flashings
  • flash roof penetration
  • apply surface coating
  • inspect finished roof and correct defects.

Shingle or slate roof

  • Undertake preparation for installation:
    • install underlays and underflashings, battens and plywood
    • install drip flashings
    • sort and size shingles
  • pin out roof
  • lay roof underlay
  • fix battens
  • load shingles or slate onto roof
  • fix shingles or slate
  • fit cut shingles or slate (for valleys and hips)
  • measure and fit top course
  • flash penetrations and fit flashings
  • inspect finished roof and correct defects.

This restricted building work is listed with regards to the installation of a new roof. Alterations can also fall under restricted building work.

In relation to walls, roofer LBPs can do or supervise the construction/installation of profiled metal wall cladding:

  • determine fixing pattern
  • mark and pre-drill sheets
  • fix wall cladding
  • install penetrations
  • measure and install flashings
  • inspect finished roof and correct defects.

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: