Building Regulatory System

This page describes the Building Regulatory System, its objectives and our qualitative assessment of it. It also lists the main statutes and changes to regulation either planned or in progress.

System description

The Building Regulatory System provides for the regulation of buildings, building work and various occupational groups in the building industry, and the setting of building performance standards to achieve the following purposes set in the Building Act 2004.

Objective of the system

  • People who use buildings can do so safely.
  • Buildings contribute appropriately to health, physical independence, and wellbeing.
  • Buildings comply with fire safety.
  • Buildings are sustainably designed, and constructed.
  • The accountability of owners, designers, builders, and building consent authorities is promoted.

Regulatory assessment and charter completed.


Building and Construction


  • Building Act 2004
  • Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act 2002
  • Construction Contracts Act 2002
  • Engineering Associates Act 1961
  • Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006
  • Registered Architects Act 2005
  • Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act 2006
  • Electricity Act 1992

Other government agencies with substantial role

  • Local authorities,
  • Ministry for the Environment



System has some issues against criteria

The building regulatory system is complex, with intricate legal and institutional arrangements. We are developing our understanding of what an effectively functioning building regulatory system looks like in practice; however, there is not yet an agreed framework to reflect how well the system is meeting these objectives. In the meantime, changes are being made to improve building consent authority performance, protect consumers if things go wrong, and better safeguard the health and safety of building users in light of what has been learned from the recent earthquakes. Evaluation will be required in order to gauge how effective these changes have been.

Reviews to improve our understanding of the system’s effectiveness are also underway, including a comprehensive review of the product assurance system begun in 2017, with initial recommendations in late 2017 and system changes implemented in 2018.


System has significant issues against criteria

The building regulatory system is broad and complex, with multiple compliance pathways that can make the system challenging to use. A comprehensive review is being scoped to look into how the system can be made easier to use. This could include simplifying compliance pathways, or simply making it easier for parties to access and understand the information they need. Consultation is also planned in 2017/18 to look at bringing the risk-based consenting provisions in the Building Act into force in 2020. This would reduce the number of checks and inspections required for low-risk and simple residential building consents, with the goal of improving system efficiency and refocusing more Building Consent Authority (BCA) attention on higher-risk consents.

Our regulatory system assessment concluded that we needed to make changes to be a more effective central regulator. We are now responding to these findings, including through a branch review focused on clarifying our functions and responsibilities and ensuring sufficient capability and capacity for the leadership of the regulatory system.


System has significant issues against criteria

The system’s performance-based design and multiple compliance pathways were intended to allow for flexibility and innovation. It is unclear to what extent this is the case in practice. There is not yet a clear pathway by which new or innovative approaches can become recognised as industry best practice.

The system responds reasonably quickly to earthquakes and other specific events. We are still working to bed in some of the large-scale recommendations following the earthquakes, and is about to implement more earthquake-related legislation changes.

Fairness and accountability

System has significant issues against criteria

It can be difficult and costly for home owners to hold building practitioners to account if something goes wrong. Work is currently underway to improve the fairness, transparency and consistency of the complaints processes across sector occupations, and to ensure the fair distribution of liability and risk across the sector. A consumer and practitioner education campaign has also been launched to ensure the people using the systems understand their obligations and how to comply. BCAs are held accountable for their performance against the standards in the Building Act through assessment by International Accreditation New Zealand. We have completed a review of the BCA accreditation scheme, and has made regulatory changes to improve performance and our ability to monitor it. We are also working to support BCAs in clustering for greater consistency and efficiency.

Key service design and operational changes

August 2016 to July 2017

In November 2016, the Licensed Building Practitioners Rules 2007 were amended. The amendment included general competency changes for Design, Brick and Blocklaying and External Plastering to keep up to date with industry changes.

2016/17 has seen the highest volume of complaints about LBPs since the Scheme was introduced — a reflection of the level of building activity occurring. Operational improvements include:

  • an update to complaints guidance on the LBP website to ensure that consumers and LBPs can better navigate the complaints process
  • a review of the LBP complaints process made a number of operational efficiencies
  • a restricted building work communication campaign to lift both consumer and practitioner awareness of the requirements of RBW.

August 2017 to July 2018

We are currently undertaking a review focused on clarifying our functions and responsibilities and ensuring sufficient capability and capacity for the management of the regulatory system. Building Consent Authorities are working together to deliver certain services jointly – so to improve consistency and leverage the benefits of scale. We are supporting these processes.

Work is currently underway to improve to Building Practitioner Board procedures and composition to address constraints and enable flexibility and responsive during periods of high complaints volumes. This includes looking at the co-opting mechanisms.

A new LPB skills maintenance model will be fully implemented in November 2017.

Planned regulatory amendments to legislation for 2017/2018

Matter name

Policy implementation

Planned consultation


Building (Response and Recovery) Amendment Bill

Matter type: Bills

Amends the Building Act 2004 to provide for managing buildings after an emergency event and investigating building failures.

Consultation completed.

The date of commencement of the Bill is expected to be 2018.

Building Amendment Bill

Matter type: Bills


Amends the Building Act (2004) to implement policies to ensure the sustainability of the Licensed Building Practitioners (LBP scheme through increased flexibility of the Board size.

Consultation will be undertaken in 2017/2018.

The proposal will be included in the proposed Regulatory Systems Bill (#3).


Building Code Amendments

Matter type: Legislative Instrument

Changes to the Building Code as a result of a 2014 review of the Code’s Protection from Fire clauses.

A discussion document focusing on fire safety was released for public consultation in May 2017.

Public consultation on the amendments is being carried out from 15 May – 14 July 2017.

Building (Designation of Building Work Licensing Classes) Amendment Order


Matter type: Legislative Instrument


Amendments to the Building (Designation of Building Work Licensing Classes) Order 2010 to align with the original intent of “deeming” plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers as Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) so they can carry out tasks necessary to their work (eg. installation of plumbing fixtures through the envelope of a building) but not providing a full-scope licence.


March 2018.


Policy development work underway.

Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations

Matter type: Legislative Instrument


Implementation of changes as a result of amendments to the Earthquake-prone Buildings provisions of the Building Act 2004.

Regulations that will (i) prescribe the criteria for granting an exemption from a requirement to carry out seismic work on a building, (ii) define the term substantial alteration and specify the criteria that territorial authorities must apply when considering whether an alteration is a substantial alteration (iii) define the term ultimate capacity (iv) set the form of the earthquake-prone building notices (v) OIC to bring into force.


Will come into force from 1 July 2017.

Building Practitioners Bill

Matter type: Bills


The Building Practitioners Bill would introduce some changes to occupational


Regulation within the building sector to ensure that practitioners working in the sector have the right skills, knowledge and competencies, and can be held to account when their work is substandard or non-compliant.

Policy development underway.

Policy approvals to be obtained from Cabinet in early 2018.

Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Amendment Rules


Matter type: Legislative Instrument

Possible amendments to the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Rules (No 2) 2002 as a result of findings of Royal Commission on Canterbury Earthquakes and subsequent policy development.


Discussion document being developed.


Development work underway.

Construction Contracts (Retentions) Amendment Regulations

Matter type: Legislative Instrument


Regulations may (if necessary) set a minimum amount, further prescribe accounting methods, and set a default interest rate.


Targeted consultation completed May 2016.




Statutes Amendment Bill (2017)

Includes amendment to the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act (PGD) 2006 to clarify the PGD Board’s power to charge a fee for notification of supervision.

Led by Ministry of Justice –consultation with parliamentary parties completed (no public consultation).


Building (Liability) Amendment Bill

Matter type: Bills

Amends the Building Act 2004 to cap the liability of Building Consent Authorities (BCAs) and protect consumers by introducing provisions driving greater uptake of home warranty protection (residential building guarantees and home warranty insurance products).

Consultation to be undertaken in 2017.

Final policy approvals to be obtained from Cabinet in late 2017.

Building (Residential Consumer Rights and Remedies) Regulations 2014

Matter Type: Regulation

Amendment to the Regulations to require mandatory disclosure of bankruptcy/liquidation history.

Consultation to be undertaken late 2017.

Regulations amended mid 2018.

Building (Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2006

Matter Type: Regulation

Amendment to the Regulations to mandate the use of the use of a national competency assessment system for building officials.

Consultation to be undertaken late 2017/early 2018.

Regulations amended mid 2018.

Dam Safety Amendment Bill

Matter Type: Bills

Moving the regulation of Dam Safety from the Building Act to the Resource Management Act (RAM).

Discussion document being developed. Consultation to be undertaken mid-2017.

The National Direction Forward Agenda provides an indicative completion date for national direction (under the RMA) on dam safety of early 2018. Policy approvals to be obtained from Cabinet in early 2018, with gazettal scheduled mid-2018.

Last updated: 01 July 2018