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How do you comply with the Building Code?

The New Zealand Building Code is performance-based. That means the Building Code specifies the minimum structural and safety standards building work must perform to, but not how the building should meet them.

As a property owner you can choose your designs, products or building methods, as long as your building consent application demonstrates that your proposal meets Building Code requirements. Your building consent authority (BCA) will use the building consent documentation in its assessment of the consent against the Building Code, and later when it inspects the work during construction and at the end of the project.

There are a number of ways your application can show compliance with the Building Code.

Compliance Documents

The Department of Building and Housing publishes Compliance Documents. These set out a method of complying with a specific requirement of the Building Code.

Compliance Documents contain Acceptable Solutions. Though optional, Acceptable Solutions are commonly followed in domestic building projects because they provide a straightforward ‘building recipe’. BCAs must approve building consent applications that show the proposed work follows relevant Compliance Documents.

Acceptable Solutions can prescribe a particular building method or use of a particular material in certain situations. They cover, for example, what insulation will comply with energy efficiency requirements of the Building Code or what level of timber treatment will meet durability requirements.

Most Compliance Documents also contain Verification Methods. These are tests or calculations that are recognised as proving Building Code compliance, for example the formula to confirm you have specified the correct amount of bracing.

Certified products

Another way to demonstrate Building Code compliance is to specify the use of a certified product.

Certified products, systems or methods are certified as meeting nominated provisions of the Building Code. Certification has legal status, which means that BCAs must accept a certified item as code compliant, subject to the conditions of the certificate.

Alternative solutions

You may have a site that needs an innovative design. If your proposal is outside the building methods detailed in the Compliance Documents, your building consent application will need to include other evidence that your project complies with the Building Code.

A range of methods exists to establish compliance. It includes a calculation or test result, comparison with a Compliance Document, a determination on a similar product, technical data from the manufacturer’s literature, or expert testimony.