Previous determinations

Determinations are made by MBIE on matters of doubt or dispute to do with building work. Rulings are legally binding, but only in relation to each case.

Previous determinations may provide some useful guidance for those faced with similar problems, but note that individual circumstances may vary.

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2021/010: Regarding the refusal of a building consent for alterations to an existing students' hall of residence

This determinaton considers whether the authority was correct to refuse a building consent for alterations to an existing school building. It considers the reasons for refusing to grant a building consent under section 50 of the Building Act, and what is as nearly as is reasonably practicable under section 112 of the Building Act, specifically in relation to installing a fire sprinkler system.

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2020/034: Regarding the compliance of fire safety precautions in a motel

Note: This determination was subject to appeal. The Determination was confirmed and the appeal was dismissed. Read the appeal judgement.


This determination considers the issue of a building consent and code compliance certificate for a motel in respect of a fire alarm system. The matter turns on whether the building work as approved in the building consent complied with Clauses C2 Means of escape from fire and F7 Warning systems, and whether the construction of the motel without a fire alarm system being installed met the performance requirements of those clauses when the code compliance certificate was issued.

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2020/003: Whether a consented apartment building with a single escape route requires smoke lobbies on the ground floor

This determination considers the granting of a building consent and whether a proposed three-storey apartment building with a common stairwell requires smoke lobbies in the ground floor apartments in order to comply with the Building Code by means of the Acceptable Solution C/AS2. The ground floor apartments have alternative egress routes and the common stairwell is the single escape route for the occupants of upper floors.

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2019/062: Regarding the means of escape from fire from a new dwelling located behind an existing dwelling

This determination concerns a new dwelling constructed at the rear of a site with an existing dwelling, and compliance of the new dwelling in relation to movement to a place of safety in the event of a fire.  The matter at issue is whether the escape route to a safe place for the occupants of the rear dwelling required a protected path past the existing dwelling.

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2019/046: Regarding dangerous building notices issued for a building

This determination considers two dangerous building notices that were issued for a six-storey building in central Auckland.  The various levels of the building are fitted out for retail, offices, and sleeping accommodation.  The determination considers the authority’s decision to the second dangerous building notice restricting entry to part of the building, which meant part of the building could not be used for sleeping accommodation, and the authority’s decision to reissue that notice after thirty days.

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2019/040: Regarding the authority's refusal to amend a compliance schedule to remove a mezzanine floor from the schedule for an early childhood centre

This determination considers the authority’s refusal to amend a compliance schedule to remove the fire-rated mezzanine floor from the schedule for an early childhood centre.

The matter turns on whether the fire-rated floor is a “fire separation” as that term is used in relation to specified systems.

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2018/064: Regarding whether the fire safety design of a proposed 185m high mixed-use tower building complies with Clauses C1-C6 by means of C/VM2

This determination considers the fire safety design of a proposed tall building and whether compliance with Clauses C1-C6 has been established by means of Verification Method C/VM2.  The determination discusses the scope of the Verification Method, how compliance is established by way of the Verification Method, and the compliance of the proposed design – in particular the lack of isolated interconnection between the lobby containing the designated fire fighters lift and the stair that is the means of egress and which firefighters use to access the floor of fire origin.

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2018/060: Refusal to grant building consent for retrofitting polyisocyanurate insulation in a house

This determination considers the code-compliance of retrofitted rigid foam insulation board to insulate the walls of an existing house.  The determination considers whether the proposed insulation board will satisfy certain clauses of the Building Code to the extent required by the Building Act.

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2018/028: Decision to issue a notice to fix for the means of escape from fire in a building

Note: The decisions in this determination were reversed on appeal to the District Court. See: Palmerston North City Council v Brian Green Properties (1971) Limited (District Court, Palmerston North, 12 February 2020, CIV-2018-054-000288).

Read the appeal judgment.

This determination considers whether the authority was correct to issue a notice to fix in respect of locks to doors that are providing the means of escape to a commercial building containing food and retail outlets.  The determination considers whether the locked doors provide adequate means of escape from fire when the building has no occupants.

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2018/007: Compliance of door thresholds to a proposed gymnasium in a school

This determination considers the compliance of door thresholds to a proposed gymnasium in a school where the threshold incorporates a change in level of 20mm between the external and internal surfaces.  The determination assesses the detail against the Acceptable Solutions D1/AS1, C/AS4 and E2/AS1 and discusses the terms “stepped threshold”, “weather stop” and “isolated step”.

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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: