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Codewords Issue 51 – March 2012

Welcome to the March issue of Codewords - keeping you up to date with information from the Department of Building and Housing.

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Building Code update

Changes to the documents supporting B1 Structure

Image of the construction of a concrete foundation.

If you use Acceptable Solution B1/AS1 and NZS 3604 to construct houses and small buildings you should use the 2011 version of NZS 3604 - that's the version B1/AS1 now references.

Important modifications to NZS 3604:2011 in B1/AS1

You can't now use unreinforced concrete slabs-on-ground anywhere. All concrete slabs-on-ground must be reinforced with Grade 500E steel mesh which is tied to perimeter foundation reinforcement. This requirement was introduced for the Canterbury earthquake region in May 2011 and was then extended nationwide in August 2011 with a six-month transition period which ended on 1 February 2012.

Read guidance on reinforced concrete slabs-on-ground.

You can buy NZS 3604:2011 from the Standards New Zealand website.

Changes to the documents supporting E2 External Moisture

Acceptable Solution E2/AS1, which deals with the weathertightness of cladding, has been updated to work better with the 2011 version of NZS 3604. The extended wind range of 55m/s allows more buildings to be designed to E2/AS1.

Verification Method E2/VM1 is a way to test how claddings with drainage cavities perform on timber-framed buildings to show that they comply with the Building Code clause E2, and it has been updated to work with the revised E2/AS1.

There is a new Acceptable Solution for weathertightness of concrete and concrete masonry construction. This is E2/AS3 which references the Code of Practice for Weathertight Concrete and Concrete Masonry Construction published by the Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ).

Read the CCANZ document and the Department’s E2 External Moisture information sheets.

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Determination 2011/093: The issuing of a code compliance certificate for a relocated house and associated alterations

The determination primarily concerned a BCA’s decision to issue a code compliance certificate for building work that the owner subsequently considered did not comply with the Building Code. The determination considered whether the BCA was correct to issue the code compliance certificate.
The parties to the determination were the owner of the building and the BCA. The developers and vendors of the property, and the builder, were considered persons with an interest in the matter. The owner applied for the determination.


The consented work was for the relocation of an existing split-level house onto new foundations and a new basement; and included new brick veneer cladding, connected to all services, a low deck to one elevation, an entry deck and steps serving the front door, and significant internal work.
The BCA inspected the building prior to its relocation, and identified work in a ‘re-siting’ report that it considered would be required to be completed as a condition of the relocation. The BCA required that the re-siting report be submitted together with the building consent application.


The determination considered: the adequacy of the consent documentation; the application of section 112 of the Building Act 2004 (the Act) generally and to the internal stairs in particular; work that was exempt from the need for a building consent under Schedule 1 of the Act; and the compliance of the completed work with the Building Code.

The consent documentation

The determination noted that the consent documentation principally showed structural information. It did not contain a scope of work and did not clearly distinguish between the existing and proposed building work. There was no information relating to the external envelope, plumbing and drainage services, the new kitchen and bathroom facilities, or the entry steps and decks. Some as-built work differed from that shown in the approved consent drawings. The determination also considered that the work detailed in the re-site report formed part of the consent.

The determination concluded that the BCA should not have granted the building consent because the consent application lacked basic information to describe the proposed work, and that without such information the BCA could not be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the provisions of the Building Code would be met if the proposed work was completed in accordance with the plans and specifications that accompanied the consent application. However, the determination also considered it was unreasonable to reverse that statutory decision as the consent had been relied upon by the original and current owner.

The application of section 112

The determination concluded that there had been an over-reliance on the provisions of section 112 in relation to compliance of the as-built work; noting the degree to which an unaltered building was to comply with the Building Code under section 112 should be considered and decided before a building consent is granted.

New internal stairs, including the handrail, from the basement to the kitchen had been installed to replace stairs that had rotted: the replacement stairs were the same size, configuration, and in the same location as the original stairs. The stairs lacked sufficient headroom, and the handrail was less than provided for in Acceptable Solution F4/As1.

The BCA, vendor and builder contended that the internal stairs were an existing feature and were therefore a ‘like-for-like replacement’: the stairs could not be considered new building work, but should be considered as an alteration to an existing building under section 112. This meant the stairs were only required to comply with the Building Code to ‘at least the same extent as before’ the alteration.
Section 7 of the Act includes ‘alteration’ in the definition of ‘building work’, and ‘alter’ includes ‘to rebuild, re-erect’. The determination concluded that the full replacement of the stairs, even though built to the same dimensions and configuration of the original stairs, could not be considered an alteration of an existing building element.

The determination noted that the provisions of section 112 apply to the compliance of the building as a whole after an alteration, and do not apply to any new building work which must comply fully with the requirements of the Building Code.

Exempt building work

The entry deck was in excess of 1m in height, and the timber steps leading to the entrance landing had eight risers, had slippery treads and had no handrail. The BCA considered that the entry deck and steps did not form part of the consent, that Schedule 1 allows for decks to be built without consent, and the deck was ‘under height’.

The determination concluded that although the as-built work to the deck and steps was different to that shown in the consent drawings, they did form part of the consent and noted that the entry deck was work necessary to gain access to the front door. The determination noted that the deck was well in excess of 1m high and was therefore not exempt under Schedule 1.


The determination found that the reduced headroom at the point the bulkhead intrudes into the stairway did not comply with Clause D1; and the steps to the front entry lacked sufficient slip resistance; and a handrail did not comply with Clause D1. The determination found that compliance had not been achieved in respect of Clauses B1 Structure, E2 External moisture, E3 Internal moisture and G13 Foul water.

The decision

The determination reversed the BCA’s decision to issue the code compliance certificate.

Read the whole determination here [PDF 152 KB, 19 pages]

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Determination 2011/104: An authority’s exercise of powers to issue a notice to fix for a commercial storage facility made up of shipping containers

The determination arose from a dispute about an authority’s decision to issue a notice to fix under section 164 of the Building Act 2004 (the Act) because the authority considered the placement of shipping containers and their use as a storage facility required a building consent.
The parties to the determination were the owner of the storage facility and the BCA.


The storage facility consisted of about 16 containers providing secure storage services for private customers. The owner did not apply for building consent prior to moving the containers onto the site.
The containers were not located on foundations, and had not been modified by installing linings, doors windows, and the like. The containers were not connected to any services.

The authority subsequently issued a notice to fix requiring the owner to either remove the containers from the site or apply for a certificate of acceptance. The owner considered therefore that no building work had been undertaken and building consent was not required.


Are the containers ‘buildings’ as defined by the Act?

The determination found that, as defined under section 8 of the Act, the containers fit the definition of ‘building’ and so can be a building.

Although the definition in section 9 of the Act excludes containers as defined in section 2(1) of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996; whether a container is or is not a building turns on whether the container is intended to be used to store hazardous substances, not whether it is capable of doing so. The determination found that as the containers were being hired out to members of the public for general storage, the containers did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 and therefore were buildings under the Act.

Had building work been undertaken?

With respect to the definition of ‘building work’ as defined in section 7 of the Act, the determination concluded that the act of moving a container around and placing a container on site is not building work as it cannot be said to involve work on the building itself, just as the act of moving a relocatable house is not building work in itself. The determination noted that if building work was carried out to the container itself, then this would constitute an alteration to an existing building and the requirements of section 112 would apply.

Had there been a change of use?

The determination considered the use of the containers in terms of Schedule 2 of the Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2005 (the Regulations).
In order to decide whether a change of use had occurred, the determination considered:

  • the Classified Uses of Clause A1 of the Building Code (although the classified uses do not directly match the categories of use in the Regulations)
  • whether the Building Code requirements for the containers in their new use were additional to and more onerous in relation to their old use.

The determination found that the use of the containers for which they were built (as shipping containers) was IA (Intermittent Low) and their new use in the storage facility was WL (Working Low).

The determination considered that under Clause A1 of the Code the containers in their use as shipping containers would be classified as an ‘ancillary building’, and that as a storage facility the containers would be classified as having a use of ‘commercial’. Given the classification of the containers as commercial under Clause A1 (and with its use of WL under the Regulations), the Building Code obligations relating to the containers that make up the storage facility are more onerous than for containers classified as ancillary buildings (with the use of IA under the Regulations).

The determination therefore concluded that the change from IA to WL constituted a change of use under the Act as the requirements for compliance with the Building Code are additional to and more onerous in relation to the new use of the containers.

The notice to fix

As the owner did not notify the authority of the change of use and changed the use without the approval of the authority, as required under sections 114 and 115 of the Act, the determination concluded that the authority was correct to issue a notice to fix under section 164 of the Act.

In taking account of the particulars of the notice to fix and the findings of the determination in relation to the definition of ‘building’ and ‘building work’, the determination concluded that the authority had not appropriately expressed the contravention of the Act or regulations in the notice to fix.

To be of further assistance to the parties the determination went on to comment on the extent of compliance required by section 115; noting that if building work was required in order to meet section 115 the owner would need to obtain building consent, but that building work arising from a change of use may be exempt under Schedule 1 of the Act.

It was noted that the key requirement that may need to be addressed was the durability of the containers to ensure they would comply to the same extent as before. Other provisions such as means of escape from fire, protection of other property, structural performance, fire-rating performance, and access could probably be addressed simply by substantiating that compliance with the Building Code was to the same extent as before the change of use.

The decision

The determination confirmed the authority’s decision to issue the notice to fix but required the notice be modified to correctly identify the contraventions of the Act.

Read the whole determination here [PDF 50 KB, 11 pages]

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Learning curve


The Building Officials Institute of New Zealand (BOINZ) is the country’s leading professional organisation supporting Building Control officials.

Its training arm is the Training Academy, the premier deliverer of building control courses and materials to its members and many stakeholders within the building sector.

Its training programme delivers courses to meet Unit Standard requirements within the Diploma of Building Control Surveying, as well as a suite of CPD up-skilling programmes, ensuring members have current industry competency. For the current version of the full training calendar - visit

April 2012

16–17: E2 Weathertightness Rotorua
30 April–4 May: Plumbing Inspection Christchurch

May 2012

13–16: Annual Conference and Expo Auckland
23–24: E2 Weathertightness Christchurch
28–30: Building Controls Napier
31 May–1 June: Site Inspection Napier

The BOINZ 2012 Training Calendar is now available at

Barrier Free NZ Trust (BFNZT) Training Programme 2012

BFNZT provides a series of seminars to enhance public awareness and provide technical guidance on matters of access in the built environment, particularly for;

  • Architects, designers, engineers and draughts persons
  • Building owners and property developers
  • Facility and building managers
  • Building control authorities
  • Government Departments
  • Disability groups
  • Others with an interest in the built environment.

Each of the seminar options focuses on three key issues;

  • Barriers in the built environment and the impact on those with a disability
  • The Law – Building Act, code requirements, consent processes and compliance schedules
  • Design Information, Techniques and Tools – understanding compliance documents, alternative and ‘best’ solutions, reviewing plans, building assessment, using the BFNZT checklists and sourcing relevant information.

BFNZT provides a specifically designed text and series of checklists for the seminars and as a guide to the implementation of the legislation regarding access.

BFNZT educates and accredits a number of Barrier Free Advisors (BFAs) who provide technical advice and guidance on accessibility and in some cases, conduct audits and write reports. The education programme assesses and equips individuals to BFA status.

In response to demand, BFNZT has varied the education programme offered. Courses available are listed below. Tailored programmes can be designed if required. Registration information and a detailed description and cost of the seminars below can be found through the website,

  • 2-day seminars – for those who have not yet attended a BFNZT seminar, or who attended one some time ago:
    • Auckland, 21/22 June 2012
    • Wellington, 23/24 August 2012
  • Half-day seminar – for Architects and Designers:
    • Wellington, 15 June 2012 
    • Auckland, 9 November 2012
  • 1-day Module 5 seminar – Becoming a Barrier Free Advisor (BFA)
    • Wellington, 27 July 2012
  • In-house presentations – a specialist 1 day in-house presentation has been prepared. To be used as a refresher, update or advance on prior learning, this workshop can be tailored specifically to the requirements of the audience.
  • Tailored Seminars – Occupational Therapists
    • o Wellington, 13 July 2012
    • o Christchurch, 12 October 2012

Assessments are offered for after each of the seminars, and all seminars qualify for CPD points.
BFNZT invites you to register for attendance at any or all of these seminars.

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