Resolution options

Last updated: 19 December 2023

Resolution options

If you have a problem and have not been able to resolve it by talking to the people involved, you may need to take a different approach or next step. 

Your options for resolution can depend on the type of problem.

You can also ask us for advice about your problem, particularly if you need clarification of the Building Act, the Building Code or building to a consent.

Contact us for advice or information.

First steps

Resolve it yourself

This is usually the cheapest and quickest option, particularly because it reduces the need to involve more people. Even if you’ve already tried talking things through you could look at our information on resolving the problem yourself. It includes a process that might be more thorough than you have tried so far or offer something new.

Resolve the problem yourself explains the process.

Check your contract

You should check your contract to see if it includes anything relevant to the problem. If you don’t have a contract, or if your contract doesn’t have a clause that applies, default clauses within the Building Act might apply.

Contract problems includes information about the default clauses.

Activate your consumer rights

The law includes various consumer protection measures. The ones that apply to building include:

  • within the Building Act, for all residential building work:
    • 12 month defect period (from practical completion, when all physical building work agreed to by you and the contractor has been finished)
    • 10 year implied warranties period
  • Construction Contracts Act
  • Consumer Guarantees Act
  • Fair Trading Act.

Activate your consumer rights

Determinations and formal complaints

Seek a determination

Determinations are legally binding decisions made by MBIE about matters of dispute to do with certain decisions under the Building Act. Most determinations are about a decision made by a council (for example, a refusal to issue a building consent).

A determination may also consider whether building work complies with the Building Code. It may involve building work that is planned, underway or complete.


Make a complaint about your building consent authority

You might be able to make a formal complaint to us if you have concerns about how a council carries out its functions as a building consent authority (for example, refusal to grant a building consent).

Complain about a building consent authority explains the process.

If your problem is to do with a council but not related to their role as a building consent authority you will need to look at alternative options.

Problems with councils includes other issues and resolution options.

Make a complaint about your building practitioner

There are different types of building practitioners. You’ll need to work out whether yours is licensed or a member of any industry body or trade scheme who can hear your complaint and investigate.

You might also be able to make a formal complaint to an industry group, if your building professional is a member.

Complain about your building practitioner has more information.

Mediation, arbitration and adjudication

You can ask a third party to help resolve your problem, through mediation, arbitration or adjudication. The option you choose might depend on:

  • whether you and the other party can agree
  • the role you want to play in agreeing the outcome
  • the money you are prepared or able to pay to resolve the problem.

Each of these dispute resolution options offers a slightly different process and outcome.

Mediation, adjudication or arbitration

Disputes Tribunal and courts

You can take a dispute to the Disputes Tribunal for small claims up to $30,000.

If your claim is for more than you can claim through the Disputes Tribunal or you need to enforce the Disputes Tribunal’s decision, you can go to the District Court. Seek legal advice if you are pursuing this option.

Disputes Tribunal and courts

New Zealand Claims Resolution Service

New Zealand Claims Resolution Service (NZCRS) will provide free expert support to homeowners having difficulty with their insurance claims after natural disasters.

New Zealand Claims Resolution Service

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: