Complaints about building consent authorities
Last updated: 3 June 2022
If you have concerns about how a building consent authority (BCA) is carrying out its functions talk to your BCA. In certain situations you may be able to make a complaint to MBIE under the Building Act.
Disputes with BCAs
If you have a problem or concern with how a BCA is carrying out its functions you should first discuss this with the BCA. If the matter cannot be easily resolved you can use the BCA’s complaints process. All BCAs are required to have a formal complaints procedure for receiving and resolving complaints about its building control functions.
If you do not believe the BCA has considered your complaint fairly or appropriately you can complain to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s main role is to investigate complaints about the acts and decisions of government agencies. The Ombudsman’s website contains helpful tips and advice for resolving problems with government agencies.
Disputes that relate to whether certain building work complies with the building code may be able to be resolved through the determination process.
Determinations explains this further and when it might be an appropriate option.
Problems with councils includes information on resolving matters with councils that may not be directly related to their role as a BCA.
Complaints to MBIE under the Building Act
MBIE can receive and investigate complaints that a BCA is failing, or has failed, to properly perform its statutory functions under the Building Act or has been negligent in performing these functions. If the BCA is found to be failing there are a range of disciplinary powers that may be used by MBIE.
There are specific requirements that must be satisfied before MBIE can accept a complaint for investigation:
- the concerns must involve one or more of the BCA's functions
- the BCA must be failing to properly perform those functions or be negligent in performing those functions, unless it has a good reason to, and
- it must relate to a matter that arose after 30 November 2004.
Complaints must relate to a BCA’s ability to properly perform most or all of the function. The failure of a BCA to properly carry out its roles and responsibilities in any individual situation is not necessarily the same as finding that a BCA is failing to properly perform its functions overall.
Roles and responsibilities of a BCA provides a list of the functions that are performed by a BCA. BCAs are the organisations that issue building consents and inspect building work for compliance with the consent. BCAs typically sit within a council but can be private entities.
Complaints must be made in writing, using our complaint form below.
When completing the form, please:
- fill out the form as fully as possible
- explain your concerns clearly
- include all your supporting evidence.
The completed form and supporting evidence can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also contact our team at this address if you need additional help or information.
Once MBIE receives a complaint we may request further information from you and/or the BCA and will consider the grounds for the complaint. We will let you know our decision to accept or decline it.
If the complaint is accepted, MBIE will investigate the matter further and decide any appropriate action. We will provide information to the BCA about the complaint and the BCA will have an opportunity to respond.
MBIE may decline a complaint, even if there is evidence of the BCA not performing its functions, if the matter is:
- minor or trivial
- historic and MBIE considers any failing is unlikely to reoccur
- substantive, but MBIE is satisfied the cause had been remedied by the BCA and is unlikely to reoccur.
When deciding whether to accept a complaint MBIE is exercising some discretion and in some circumstances it may be appropriate for MBIE to consider whether there are other more suitable processes for considering the matters.
Outcome of complaints
If MBIE identifies that a BCA is failing to properly perform its functions it has a wide range of disciplinary powers. For example MBIE can:
- provide the BCA with advice and guidance to help prevent the issue occurring again
- recommend monitoring activities for that BCA are increased
- require the BCA to take remedial action (for example, by making changes to its procedures and manuals or increasing staff training)
- issue a warning to the BCA and potentially limit the functions it may perform.
Investigating complaints about BCAs is part of MBIE's wider role, as central regulator of the building regulatory system, to monitor the performance of BCAs. It forms part of MBIE’s powers to ensure that BCAs are properly carrying out their statutory functions and responsibilities.
The complaints process cannot provide individual remedies to a complainant as that would be outside the scope of the Building Act’s complaints provision. It is recommended that you seek independent legal advice on matters where you are seeking remediation of any nature arising from a dispute with a BCA.
Accreditation and monitoring of BCAs
MBIE has an accreditation scheme to help ensure BCAs have the necessary skills and resources. All BCAs are required to be accredited, and as part of the scheme the accreditation body undertakes assessments of each BCA to ensure they are maintaining compliance with the criteria and standards for accreditation.
The accreditation scheme provides MBIE with extensive monitoring and disciplinary powers and allows MBIE to intervene when BCAs have failed to perform their functions.
BCA accreditation explains the scheme further.
All information MBIE receives is public information. If requested, under the Official Information Act 1982, we may have to release details about your complaint to other individuals or organisations.
There might be grounds under that Act to withhold information you have provided (such as privacy concerns or commercial sensitivity). Please indicate in your correspondence if there is any information you would want withheld. If MBIE decides to withhold any information, the person requesting the information can ask the Ombudsman to review the decision.