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Building legislation

​​The Building Act 2004

The Building Act 2004 sets out the rules for the construction, alteration, demolition and maintenance of new and existing buildings in New Zealand. It aims to improve control, encourage better design and construction and provide greater assurance for consumers.

The Building Act and its regulations work alongside other legislation, including:

  • Resource Management Act
  • laws specifying certain plumbing, gas and electrical work must be done by qualified professionals
  • Fire Service Act 1975
  • council bylaws.

The purpose of the Building Act 2004

The purpose of the Building Act 2004 is to ensure:

  • people can use buildings safely and without endangering their health
  • buildings have elements that contribute appropriately to the health, physical independence and well-being of the people who use them
  • people can escape from a building if it is on fire
  • buildings are designed, constructed and can be used in ways that promote sustainable development.

The Building Act stipulates:

  • clear expectations of the standards buildings should meet (Building Code)
  • guidance on how to meet those standards
  • more certainty that specialists and experts design, construct and inspect buildings
  • scrutiny of the building consent and inspection process
  • protection for homeowners through mandatory warranties.

It also ensures that when work happens on existing buildings, they are incrementally improved to provide:

  • ways to escape from fire
  • sanitary facilities
  • access and facilities for people with disabilities
  • strength to withstand earthquakes.

You can see the full Building Act 2004 on the New Zealand Legislation website.

The Building Code

All building work in New Zealand must meet the performance standards set by the Building Code, even if it doesn't need a consent.

The Building Code sets clear expectations of the standards buildings should meet.

It covers:

  • structural stability
  • fire safety
  • access
  • moisture control
  • durability
  • services and facilities
  • energy efficiency.

The Building Code states how a building must perform in its intended use, rather than describing how the building must be designed and constructed.

Meeting building code requirements

We assess plans and specifications in your consent application to ensure the proposed building work will comply with the Building Code. When we are satisfied that you have met the requirements, we will issue a building consent for the work to proceed.

If your finished building work:

  • complies with the consented plans
  • and all inspections have been passed
  • and all necessary certificates have been supplied

we will issue a code compliance certificate. This confirms that you have met the requirements of the Building Code.

Even if your building work does not need a consent, it must still meet Building Code. Your building work has to achieve the minimum performance criteria set out in the Building Code.

How to demonstrate building code compliance

You can use design solutions given in Acceptable Solutions or use the calculation and test methods in Verification Methods  to demonstrate how their proposed building work will comply with the Building Code.

You can choose other means to show compliance with the building code, which are often referred to as alternative solutions.

Product certification is voluntary but an assured way of demonstrating compliance with the building code, as long as the limitations and conditions are adhered to.

Energy work certificates show that certain electricity and gas work is carried out by qualified and licensed people, and also demonstrates compliance with the Building Code.

Waivers and modifications of the building code

Section 67 of the Building Act 2004 allows territorial authorities (TA) to grant a building consent subject to waiver or modification of the Building Code.

Complete this form when requesting any waiver or modification of the building code. When complete, email to:

​Resource Management Act 1991

Depending on the nature of your building project, you may need to apply for a resource consent as well as a building consent. If resource consent is required, a certificate issued under section 37 of the Building Act is attached to your Project Information Memorandum (PIM) or building consent. This certificate stops any work starting until the resource consent is granted.

Resource consents are decided upon using the Resource Management Act (1991) or RMA. The RMA promotes the sustainable management of natural and physical resources, such as land, air and water.

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