Building failure investigations

This section sets out information about the investigation of building failures under the Building Act 2004.

Investigating building failures

As the central regulator of New Zealand’s building system, one of MBIE’s roles is to investigate significant building failures. This allows the building sector to learn, helping prevent future building failures.

What an investigation is

An investigation is a formal and structured process conducted by investigators to identify the circumstances and causes of a building failure.

When we investigate

The Minister for Building and Construction or the Chief Executive of MBIE may initiate a building investigation when:

  1. any part of a building has failed in any way, in that it has not performed as expected in light of the requirements that applied to the design and construction of the building; and
  2. the failure resulted, or could have resulted, in the risk of serious injury or death.

A building failure may be investigated more than once (for example, in one or more follow-up investigations after an earlier investigation ends).

How we investigate

MBIE must give written notice of an investigation to the building owner as soon as reasonably practicable. However, the notice does not need to be given before powers of investigation are exercised.

Powers of investigation may be exercised only in relation to the investigation site, which means all or part of the building, any land under or around the building, and any other building on that land that is considered relevant to the building failure.

Powers of investigation include:

  • securing or restricting access to the investigation site for a reasonable period;
  • entering the site, including household units (but only with the permission of the occupier or under a warrant);
  • carrying out inspections and taking samples and other evidence from the site;
  • requiring reasonable assistance from an owner or occupier of the site;
  • requiring a person to provide information or documents that may help determine the circumstances of the building failure;
  • sharing relevant information with occupational bodies responsible for managing complaints and discipline about building professionals, or in accordance with another enactment; and
  • carrying out any works at the investigation site that are necessary to enable another power of investigation to be exercised.

MBIE may engage any suitable person to exercise one or more of these powers on its behalf. Any person who enters an investigation site on behalf of MBIE must show the occupier evidence of their identity and their written authorisation to enter the site.

What we do with the information

Findings from building failure investigations may be made publically available on mbie.govt.nz. Any identifiable person within the report would be provided with an opportunity to comment before the report is published.

The report may include the findings of the investigation, any recommendations about building design or construction, and any other matters that arise from the investigation.

Outcomes from an investigation include (but are not limited to):

  • informing the public about the specific aspects of building design or construction that have been found to contribute to the building failure
  • undertaking further research into specific aspects of the building’s design, construction and / or performance
  • initiating a further investigation into a specific building product or method
  • issuing a product ban
  • making changes to professional competency regimes and requirements
  • making changes to the Building Code or associated compliance methods
  • reviewing and / or making changes to legislation (the Building Act and / or related Regulations).

Requirements of building owners

Building owners (and other parties) are required to cooperate with MBIE during any building failure investigation.

It is an offence to intentionally interfere with an investigation site; access an investigation site despite a restriction or prohibition; obstruct an investigation; or fail to provide required information or documents.

Contact us

If you have information relating to a building failure or have specific questions relating to past or current investigations, contact MBIE on:

Phone: 0800 24 22 43

Email: info@building.govt.nz

Published reports into building failure investigations

In this section you can find reports into building failures investigated by MBIE.

Prior to the Building Amendment Act coming into force in December 2019, these reports relied solely on the co-operation of building owners and other parties, rather than the use of powers of investigation.

In this section

Statistics House investigation

The performance of Wellington’s Statistics House during the Kāikoura earthquake focused on the design, construction and land influences on the performance of the building.