All new construction work must meet the requirements of the Building Act 2004. It must also comply with the New Zealand Building Code to the extent required by the Act.

These documents are at the heart of the building controls system in New Zealand.

The Building Act requires that buildings perform in a way that:

  • safeguards occupants from injury or illness 

  • contributes to the health, physical independence and well-being of the people who use them 

  • promotes sustainable development. 

The Building Act describes restricted building work that can only be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner. Restricted building work is work that requires a building consent and includes work on foundations, wall or roof cladding or fire safety systems.

The Act also requires that construction work comply with the New Zealand Building Code. The Code doesn’t tell designers or builders how to design or build a house but states the minimum requirements that a house must meet or (preferably) exceed with regards to durability, energy efficiency and so on. 

After maintenance, repairs or alterations, the building must comply with the Building Code to at least the same extent as it did before the work was undertaken.

Substantial repair, retrofitting or rebuilding work may require a building consent from a building consent authority (BCA – typically a local council) before work can begin. Retrofitting wall insulation falls into this category, for example. Consent is only issued when the BCA is confident that the proposed work meets or exceeds the minimum requirements of the Building Code. It is the building owner’s responsibility to obtain the building consent and request a Code compliance certificate when the work is complete. It is the builder’s responsibility to ensure that their work is in line with the consented documentation so that the completed work is Code compliant. 

You can find more information on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Building Performance website.