Roles and responsibilities of BCAs
The Building Act 2004 creates three clearly defined operational roles - the territorial authority, the building consent authority (BCA), and the regional authority (which is not discussed here.)
Role and responsibilities of a building consent authority
A building consent authority performs the following functions.
- Issues building consents (except consents subject to a waiver or modification).
- Inspects building work for which it has granted a building consent.
- Issues notices to fix.
- Issues code compliance certificates.
- Issues compliance schedules.
When issuing building consents, a building consent authority must provide to the New Zealand Fire Service Commission a copy of every application for a building consent of a kind specified by a Gazette notice.
Building consent authorities must ensure that:
- all prescribed forms meet the requirements as set out in the Building (Forms) Regulations 2004 and their amendments
- applications and certificates are completed in full.
A building consent authority may be an independent organisation and not part of a territorial authority. An independent building consent authority performs the functions of a building consent authority, with some exceptions, including the following.
- It must obtain a project information memorandum from the territorial authority.
- It must provide copies of all documentation to the territorial authority for the district within 5 working days after receiving or issuing such information.
- After issuing a compliance schedule, it has 5 days to notify the territorial authority.
Role and responsibilities of a territorial authority
A territorial authority must perform the functions of a building consent authority for its own district. A territorial authority is now responsible for any coastal marine area adjacent to its district that is not within the district of another territorial authority, and a territorial authority must perform the functions of a building consent authority within this area.
In addition to these functions, a territorial authority performs the following functions (including any functions that are incidental and related to, or consequential upon these).
A territorial authority issues:
- project information memoranda
- building consents where the consent is subject to a waiver or modification of the Building Code
- certificates of acceptance
- compliance schedules (and amends compliance schedules).
A territorial authority also:
- follows up and resolves notices to fix
- administers annual building warrants of fitness
- enforces the provisions relating to annual building warrants of fitness
- decides the extent to which buildings must comply with the Building Code when they are altered, the use is changed, or their specified intended life changes
- performs functions relating to dangerous, earthquake-prone or insanitary buildings
- determines whether building work is exempt under Schedule 1 from requiring a building consent
- carries out any other functions and duties specified in the Building Act 2004.
- A territorial authority must act as a building consent authority within its district and for any coastal marine areas adjacent to its district that are not in any other territorial authority’s district.
- It must apply to the Chief Executive of the Department of Building and Housing to be registered as a building consent authority.
- In order to be registered, a territorial authority must first be accredited.
- An application for accreditation is made to a building consent accreditation body.
The Chief Executive may appoint a building consent accreditation body that is responsible for:
- accrediting building consent authorities (sections 250-251)
- auditing accredited building consent authorities at least once every 3 years (section 249)
- determining the scope of accreditation for a building consent authority that is not a territorial authority or a regional authority (section 252)
- revoking the accreditation of a building consent authority in certain circumstances (section 254).
A territorial authority must keep for at least the life of the building any information that is relevant to the administration of the Building Act, including the following information.
- Plans and specifications in relation to building consent applications.
- From 30 November 2009, the names of any licensed building practitioners who certified the designs and/or building work on projects that come under the licensing regime.
- Project information memoranda and building consents.
- The specified intended life of the building (if applicable).
- Code compliance certificates.
- Compliance schedules.
- Building warrants of fitness.
- Copies of energy work certificates.
- District court orders under section 126 (territorial authority having undertaken the work).
- Records of information on any land or building received by the territorial authority from a statutory authority.
- All information provided to the territorial authority by a building consent authority under section 238. (Information building consent authorities have provided in relation to the above.)
The following information must be available to the public and must be kept for 10 years.
- Summary of written complaints received by the territorial authority concerning alleged breaches of this Act or the former Act.
- Information on how the territorial authority dealt with the complaints.
Considerations for implementation are as follows.
- Are all records relating to building work being kept for the life of the building?
- Are energy work certificates being collected and filed with the building consent documentation?Does the territorial authority keep a register or public record of written complaints relating to building control matters?
- Does the territorial authority’s register or public record contain a summary of how the complaints were dealt with?
Access to information
All of the information referred to above must be available on request to members of the public during ordinary office hours. The only exception to this requirement is where the applicant, owner or subsequent owner for reasons of security of the building has marked plans or specifications as confidential.
A territorial authority must make photocopying facilities available to people who wish to access information as described above, and may charge a reasonable fee for the use of those facilities.
Providing information to the Chief Executive of the Department of Building and Housing
A territorial authority must provide information to the Chief Executive that is related to its functions, duties and powers under this Act, as prescribed by regulations.
Charges and levies
A territorial authority may impose a fee or charge for services provided under the Building Act 2004, and must collect the levy in relation to a building consent.
Power to carry out building work
Where building work is dangerous, insanitary or earthquake-prone, and the owner or responsible person has not taken corrective measures, a territorial authority can apply to the District Court for an order authorising the territorial authority to do the work.
Power to inspect and enter land
Sections 222 to 228 provide details of the powers of entry to undertake an inspection. These powers are largely similar to the powers territorial authorities had under the Building Act 1991. A clear reason for any inspection must be provided to the owner/occupier/builder.
The territorial authority may choose to warrant enforcement officers to issue infringement notices under section 372 of the Act.