The Building Act

The Building Act 2004 establishes the framework for all building control systems in New Zealand. It aims to ensure that:

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

The Building Act has provisions to:

  • register building consent authorities
  • license building practitioners
  • review and amend the Building Code
  • protect consumers
  • certify products and establish systems to construct, alter, demolish and maintain new and existing buildings.

It sets standards and procedures for people involved in building work and covers how that work can be done, who can do it and when it needs to be inspected.

The Building Act empowers territorial authorities (usually local councils) to control building activity in their district. Territorial authorities must be accredited and registered as building consent authorities (BCAs) in order to carry out building consent authority functions. A private organisation can also attain registration as a BCA provided it can demonstrate adequate means. The Building Amendment Act 2013 introduced a risk-based consenting system.

The following sections of the Building Act have implications for the seismic resilience of existing buildings:

  • Sections 112 and 113 cover buildings undergoing alteration, including buildings with an intended remaining life of less than 50 years.
  • Section 115 provides requirements for buildings where a change of use is proposed.
  • Section 121 defines a ‘dangerous building’.
  • Section 133AB and associated regulations define an ‘earthquake-prone building’.
  • Sections 133AA to 133AY provide requirements for territorial authorities and building owners to identify, assess and manage earthquake-prone buildings. 

Relevant resources