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Helpful hints about the Building Act

Building Act Section 112 requirements - altering or changing an existing building

When Council building officers process/assess a building consent that relates to alterations to an existing building, Section 112 of the Building Act 2004 has to be considered for upgrades to certain areas of the building code, these areas relate to means of escape form fire and access and facilities for persons with disabilities, these areas will have to comply with those areas of the building code as nearly as is reasonable practical.

 Typically, this information is provided in the form of reports/gap analysis from design professionals.

These reports/gap analysis should show:

  • The building’s existing features for means of escape from fire and access and facilities for people with disabilities, such as an escape route and accessibility and facilities
  • Any features the building should have for means of escape from fire and access and facilities for people with disabilities if it were built today,
  • What gaps exist between these two
  • How those gaps can be reasonably filled.

The designer will also need to show the other components of Section 112 have been met.

Please note: Council does not consider cost itself as a deciding factor for upgrade when measuring ‘as near as reasonably practicable’.

For helpful Information on what all this means and how to address this in your building consent application, refer to MBIE Website; Altering an existing building.

(There are six pages of very helpful information that cover off, Introduction to altering an existing building, Fire and accessibility upgrades improve building safety, Managing building alterations, Meeting the requirements for altering existing buildings, Demonstrating and assessing compliance for buildings undergoing alterations and using the decision-making framework – example)

Also recommended is MBIE Guidance on Requesting information about means of escape from fire for existing buildings. This information is not just for Building Consent Authorities (BCA’s) or Territorial Authorities (TA’s) but will be useful for building owners, and building professionals, such as:

  • architect or designer
  • chartered professional engineer
  • other appropriately qualified licensed building practitioner.

This guide will give you some idea of the information Council may request with your building consent application. However, we still recommend you talk to Council well before applying.

Building Act section 133AT requirements - structural upgrades earthquake prone buildings

If your building has been issued an earthquake prone building notice and the proposed work is for structural upgrade only, Section 133AT of the Building Act means you won’t have to worry about all of the components outlined in Section 112 above. We suggest you ask your design professional to give you advice on this.

Building Act Section 115 requirements - change of use of a building

Change of use is one of the most onerous components of the Building Act and imposes the most costs associated with upgrades. You must provide reports from design professionals addressing the matters requiring upgrade if your building work will change the use of your building.

These reports should show:

  • Current situation,
  • What those requirements would be for a new building built today and
  • How any identified gaps would be addressed.

Please note: Council does not consider cost itself as deciding factor for upgrade when measuring ‘as near as reasonably practicable’. The measure for change of use is not altered where an earthquake prone building notice has been issued.

Building Act Section 116 requirements - extension to the specified intended life of the building

The Building Act, Section 116 applies where a building consent for its building or alteration was issued subject to the condition that it must be altered on or before the end of the specified intended life.

You will need to demonstrate that either you met the condition, or you will meet the requirements of Section 112 of the Act.

It’s best to ask a design professional to assist you with this.

Subdivision of an existing building  (116A Code compliance requirements: subdivision)

A Territorial Authority cannot issue a certificate under section 224(f) of the Resource Management Act 1991 for the purposes of giving effect to a subdivision affecting a building or part of a building unless it is satisfied, on reasonable grounds, that the building will comply, as nearly as is reasonably practicable, with every provision of the Building Code that relates to one or more of the following:

  • Means of escape from fire
  • Access and facilities for people with disabilities (if this is a requirement for the building)
  • Protection of other property

The building must also continue to comply with the other provisions of the Building Code to at least the same extent as before the subdivision application was made.

Other legislation

Although the Council have granted building consent approval you may have restrictions imposed under other legislation such the Resource Management Act that may prevent you from starting work.

In addition, other legislation needs to be considered relevant to you project such as the requirements for an evacuation scheme, or in relation to the storage or manufacture of hazardous substances.


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