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Building Consents And Code Compliance Certificates

Building Industry Authority
Media Release

4 December 2003

Building Consents And Code Compliance Certificates

The Building Industry Authority has been advised that Auckland City Council is declining consents or code compliance certificates for buildings using monolithic cladding, without cavities. The BIA has been working closely with Auckland City over recent days to better understand their policy and has issued advice to all territorial authorities regarding their responsibilities in the issuing of code compliance certificates.

BIA chief executive John Ryan said today that it is possible some homes built with monolithic cladding might not comply with the Building Code - but this must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

“The Building Code, which is part of Government Regulations, provides a high degree of flexibility in the way individual buildings might achieve its functional requirements to allow people to live in the type of houses they want. A council is obliged to consider all the circumstances of a building such as design, location, techniques and materials before deciding that compliance has or has not been achieved.

“A council can put in place an inspection or consenting policy that reflects concern that certain methods or practices may be problematic in some circumstances. Publication of such a policy alerts homeowners, builders, architects and others that they will need to positively demonstrate that the building complies with the Building Code.

“However, situations must be assessed individually. A blanket approach is incorrect, is not in the best interest of homeowners, may cause unnecessary stress and confusion and lead to consents or code compliance certificates being declined for compliant buildings.”

Mr Ryan said the Building Industry Authority has advised all councils that they would not be discharging their responsibilities under the Building Act if they introduced a blanket policy of withholding code compliance certificates for certain types of homes.

“However, we would also stress that unless a council has reasonable grounds for being satisfied that the building complies with the Building Code, then it must refuse to issue a consent for building to start, or a code compliance certificate upon completion.

“If homeowners have been refused a consent or code compliance certificate, they should in the first instance discuss with their council their options for rectifying the situation. In both cases councils are required to specify in writing the reasons why a consent or certificate is declined and homeowners should ask for that. Ultimately, if they cannot resolve the issue with the council, homeowners may apply to the BIA for a legal ruling on technical matters of dispute known as a “determination”.

“People who are in the middle of building or are considering building a new home using a monolithic cladding system and have concerns, should discuss these with their council and seek clarification on their position as soon as possible,” Mr Ryan said.

He also said the BIA had formally reminded Auckland City that it is entitled to apply to the BIA for formal determinations of matters of doubt or dispute about compliance with the Building Code, including doubts or disputes about particular buildings using monolithic cladding and no cavities.

“The determination process can be used to give clear guidance to Councils on matters like this. We do anticipate homeowner applications for determinations. However, we believe that the most constructive, responsible and time effective way of advancing this matter is for Auckland City itself to apply for a determination on one or more buildings about which it believes it has reasonable grounds to decline to issue a code compliance certificate and, we have suggested to Auckland City that they do this.”

When the BIA considers an application it determines whether the building complies with the Building Code and it has the power to confirm, reverse or modify the council’s decision on the matter. If the BIA reverses or modifies the council’s decision, the council must act. The BIA itself does not issue Code Compliance Certificates.

The BIA reiterates its concern that this issue is managed in the best interests of homeowners and confirms our willingness to continue to work with Auckland City and other territorial authorities on a way forward.

Homeowners looking for more information about this issue should firstly contact their council for advice on their situation. For general advice on the building approvals process and determinations people can visit the BIA website www.bia.govt.nz or contact the BIA on 0800 BIA AID (0800 242 243).

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