Building guidance notes


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The following guidance notes provide more detailed information about specific areas such as swimming pools and commercial buildings that may require additional certification.

Swimming Pool Fencing

Following the repeal of The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 the requirements to install barriers around pools, to protect young children from the dangers of unfenced swimming pools, is now covered under the Building Act and the New Zealand Building clause Code F9. The Act and Building Code set out the types of barriers/fencing or other requirements you need to have around your pool. It is a requirement that all spa pools, hot tubs and swimming pools in our district are registered.  Although some spa type pools with lockable lids are exempt from the requirements for fences certain other criteria apply. Pools such as blow up type pools, even if only temporary, require barriers to safeguard children under fiver years old.

Private swimming pools are the single most significant water hazard for pre-school children. Studies in New Zealand and overseas have shown that most drownings involve the children of pool owners and visitors, rather than wandering children. A boundary fence is not a satisfactory safety measure – the immediate pool area also needs to be fenced.

Pool owner's obligations

Pool owners must advise Council that they have a pool on their property. You need a Building Consent before constructing any type of pool or building or altering a fence/barrier around a pool. Empty pools can also be hazardous and care should be taken to ensure no one can fall into an empty pool.


Tenant’s obligations

If you rent/lease a house with an unfenced pool (or that has a pool with a non-complying fence/barrier), the pool must stay empty.

Council’s obligations

We are required to take all reasonable steps to make sure the Act is complied with. This means every pool has to be inspected regularly. This is set by legislation to ensure the safety features like fences/barriers, comply with the Act and Building Code. For this reason, Council has a three-yearly inspection programme in place. Inspections are charged as per the fees and charges schedule and comprise of an administration  and field inspection component. Failed inspections will incur additional fees.

Unfenced pools

If you own or control an unfenced pool, you are committing an offence under the Act and are liable for prosecution. A number of prosecutions have recently been taken against owners of properties with inadequately fenced pools, in which children have drowned.

What pools need to be fenced?

All pools require suitable fence/barriers where they are associated with an abode, unless other features are present as describe in the Building Act - please refer to the New Zealand Building clause F9.

What standard of fencing/barrier is required?

Before constructing a pool fence/barrier, you will require a Building Consent. The Building Code clause F9 sets out the standard of fencing/barriers required.

Alternate options

There may be alternate solutions to your pool fencing requirements under New Zealand Standard (NZS8500:2006). Please consult with a council Building Officer on these options. Refer to Safety Guidance for Pool Owners for more information.

Certificate for Public Use (CPU) 

Public premises can only be occupied if a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) has been issued or a CPU is in place. It is an offence to occupy or use a building without either a CCC or CPU. These certificates may apply to all or part of a building.

A CPU is an assurance that a building (or part of a building) is safe for the public to use whilst construction is taking place. This provision is contained within sections 362A – 363C of the Building Act 2004, which came into force on 14 April 2005. 

When will a certificate be issued?

Council will only issue a certificate if it is satisfied that members of the public can use the premises safely. This is likely to involve an inspection. Obtaining a CPU does not relieve the owner of a building from the obligation to apply for a CCC after all the building work has been carried out. In order to apply for a CPU construction must not be completed and there must be a need for the building to open. Employees are not considered members of the public.

What types of buildings require a certificate?

A certificate is required for all buildings used by the public, such as a shopping centre or store, or other buildings where the public enter for free or on payment of a fee, such as a sports stadium, swimming pool or zoo.

Who can apply for a certificate?

 Any person who owns, occupies, or controls premises intended for public use, or their agent can apply for a CPU.  Applicants must provide evidence of ownership or right to occupy the building. The following documents satisfy this requirement:

  • Copy of certificate of title
  • Lease agreement
  • Agreement for sale and purchase
  • License
  • Property management agreement
  • Any other document showing the full name of the applicant (agreeable to Council)
  • Written authority from owner, if application made by someone other than the owner

How do I apply for a certificate for public use?

A CPU must be applied for on the appropriate form; a copy of this form is available from our website, or from your local area office. You must include the deposit fee as part of your application. The application must be accompanied by the following documents:

Plans and specifications clearly showing the part(s) of the premises that the application applies to

  • If the application is for a new building, please attach a list of all active specified systems to your application together with an application for a compliance schedule so that an ‘interim’ compliance schedule can be issued with the CPU (please attach test certificates, commissioning reports and IQP statements for each of the active systems).
  • If the application is for an alteration to an existing building and an amendment to an existing compliance schedule is required as a result of the building work, please attach a list of all specified systems that are being altered, added to or removed from the building in the course of the building work (please also identify whether there are any temporary modifications to specified systems and what maintenance and testing will be performed during the construction period).
  • An analysis of the impact of building work on areas intended to be occupied and the proposals to minimise those impacts considering, where relevant, the impact on the following areas:
  • access to the occupied area, including access for people with disabilities, guarding of changes in level, and the removal of conflict with construction traffic and stored material
  • means of escape from fire, including egress path with restriction, route changes and possible need for interim evacuation plans
  • operation of specified systems, including active fire alerting and suppression and any proposed compensatory temporary arrangements
  • structural integrity and any temporary propping
  • passive fire rating integrity and any proposed compensatory temporary arrangements
  • building environment, including sealing off occupied areas from construction noise and dust, and maintaining adequate ventilation
  • sanitary facilities adequate for proposed occupant numbers and also for people with disabilities
  • construction area security.

Once received, Council has 20 working days to decide whether to issue the certificate. If further information is requested during processing, the period is suspended until that information is provided.

Additional documentation to support CPU application

The following list of documentation may also be required (if applicable) to support an application for a CPU

  • PS3 Emergency lighting test certificate 
  • PS3 Fire protection 
  • PS3 Air conditioning/mechanical ventilation (HVAC) 
  • Auto doors fail safe - PS3 – Construction
  • Energy works certificate - Electrical 
  • Energy works certificate - Gas 
  • PS3 Glazing installation 
  • PS4 Structural 
  • PS3 Lifts and escalators 
  • PS3 Riser fire mains
  • Any other information that Council reasonably requires regarding the operation of specified systems or confirming compliance.

When will a certificate not be issued?

A CPU cannot be issued if: 

  • building work was completed before 1 July 1992
  • building work is complete and no CCC has been issued
  • part or all of the building required to be occupied is deemed unsafe to use, for example:-
  • if the specified systems affected by the building work are not compliant
  • if the provision for means of escape is unsatisfactory
  • if the emergency warning systems are not adequate
  • building work was carried out without first obtaining a building consent (that is, unauthorised work)

It is an offence to allow members of the public to use a building, or any parts thereof, if:-

  • the building that has not been certified as safe, or where a certificate for public use has not been issued, andwhere a certificate for public use has been issued, but the conditions of its issue have not been complied with

Under s.363 a person who commits an offence under this section of the Building Act is liable to a fine not exceeding $200,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine not exceeding $20,000 for every day or part day during, which the offence has continued.

Compliance Schedules (Specified Systems)

The purpose of this guidance information is to help building owners and managers of commercial, industrial or communal (public use) buildings understand their responsibilities under the Building Act 2004 as they relate to compliance schedules (list of specified systems) and building warrants of fitness. Residential properties do not require a compliance schedule, unless it has a cable car installed. For more detailed information refer to MBIE's Compliance Schedule Handbook.

Legislative requirements

The Building Act 2004 (the Act) outlines Council’s responsibilities in respect to enforcing the provisions of the Act and promoting and protecting the public’s health and safety.   Council’s role is to educate, monitor and work with building owners, managers and independent qualified persons (IQPs) to ensure that the purposes and principles of the Act are achieved. 

Section 7

Plans and specifications means the drawings, specifications, and other personal documents according to which a building is proposed to be constructed, altered, demolished or removed; and includes the:-

  • specified systems that the application for building consent considers will be required to be included in the compliance schedule under section 100; and
  • the proposed procedures for inspection and routine maintenance for the purposes of the compliance schedule for those specified systems

Section 45.1 (g) 

An application for a building consent must be accompanied by either one of the following:

  • if a compliance schedule is required as a result of the building work, a list of all specified systems for the building; or
  • if an amendment to an existing compliance schedule is required as a result of the building work, a list of all specified systems that are being:-
  • altered in the course of the building work
  • added to the building in the course of the building work
  • removed from the building in the course of the building work

Section 51.1(c and d)

A building consent or an amendment to a building consent, must state:

  • the specified systems that are covered by the compliance schedule, and
  • the performance standards for the specified systems that are required by the Building Code

Specified systems

A specified system is a system or feature that is contained within a building for the primary purpose of maintaining health or life safety of building users i.e. fire alarm, sprinkler, mechanical ventilation system, etc.

Requirements for specified systems are set out in the 1st Schedule of the 2005/032 Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2005. Where one or more of these systems exist in a building, a compliance schedule is required.

What is a compliance schedule?

A compliance schedule is an inventory or list of specified systems, contained within a building and states the performance standards which must be met:

  • inspection, testing and maintenance procedures
  • the frequency of inspections, and
  • who should perform those inspections

What is a performance standard?

The level of performance a specified system is intended to meet, and continue to meet, at the time it was designed and installed in a building. 

Compliance with the Building Code is normally achieved by referring to an acceptable solution or a verification method.  For example, the performance standard for sprinkler systems is NZS 4541:2013. This standard specifies what the maintenance, inspection and reporting regime is for sprinkler systems. 

How do I apply for a compliance schedule?

A compliance schedule is usually applied for at time of application for building consent; however, it may also be applied for when an application is made for a certificate of acceptance or a certificate for public use.

Documentation must accompany the application, identifying the type of system being installed and must state what type of specified system is being installed; where the system is located; and the name and year of the performance standard that the system will be maintained, inspected and reported against.  

It is recommended that drawing(s) are provided on project completion showing the general location of all specified systems contained within the building. This ensures that a correct and accurate record exists and assists the IQP to determine whether all features have been properly inspected, maintained.

When is a compliance schedule issued?

A compliance schedule is issued at the same time as the code compliance certificate; along with a compliance schedule statement.  In the case of an application for a certificate for public use, an interim compliance schedule will be issued.  Note that it is an offence to use or occupy public premises, which have not had a code compliance certificate issued, unless a certificate for public use has been issued.

The compliance schedule is issued by Council, when it is satisfied that all specified systems are operational.

What is a compliance schedule statement?

When the compliance schedule is issued, a compliance schedule statement is also issued.  The compliance schedule statement must be kept and displayed in a visible location such as the lobby or reception area of the building.   Council must agree to the location of the statement. The compliance schedule statement verifies that the specified system(s) nominated on the compliance schedule are operational and fit for purpose for the first 12 months of the buildings life. 

The compliance schedule statement is valid for one year and must be replaced by a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) on, or before the anniversary date of the issue of the compliance schedule statement.

If an interim compliance schedule is issued, this will be replaced by a final compliance schedule when the building work is complete and the CCC is issued.  The final compliance schedule is effective from the date that the interim compliance schedule was issued as systems will already have commenced their maintenance, inspection and reporting regimes.

The compliance schedule statement is issued by Council.

Can I apply for more than one compliance schedule for multiple tenancies?

Yes; where an application relates to multiple tenancies, which comprises several blocks of shops or units, it may be more appropriate to issue one compliance schedule for each block of shops / units, within the complex. For this scenario to apply, it will depend on the extent and scope of the specified systems installed e.g. if there is one sprinkler system or one alarm system that spans multiple tenancies, a single compliance schedule can be issued for that particular block.

Where there are multiple tenancies, the applicant should advise the preferred option so that compliance schedules can be prepared accordingly. Where multiple compliance schedules are prepared, each one must have its own unique number.

Building Warrant of Fitness  

A Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) is a certificate issued by the building owner confirming that all of the specified systems contained within the building have been inspected and maintained and are performing in accordance with the compliance schedule. A BWOF verifies that the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures for all the specified systems within a building have been carried out in accordance with the compliance schedule for the previous 12 months.

Who is responsible for issuing the Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF)?

Issuing of the BWOF certificate is the owner’s responsibility; this document must be issued annually.  The owner is required to display a copy of the BWOF certificate in a visible location in the building where it can be seen and to which the public have access. 

In summary every year the building owner is required to:

  • Issue a BWOF
  • Display a copy of the BWOF certificate (Form 12) in a visible location
  • Provide Council with a copy of the BWOF and IQP Certificates (Form 12A)

How is the Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) issued?

The building owner or the owner’s agent issues a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) on a form prescribed by 2005/338 Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Regulations 2005 (Form 12).  A BWOF certificate is issued for a 12-month period, which coincides with the date that the compliance schedule was issued.  

The BWOF is required to:

  • state that the requirements of the compliance schedule have been satisfied
  • be signed by the building owner or their agent
  • state where the compliance schedule and any associated certificates or reports (Form 12a) will be located

The building owner must attach copies of all Form 12a certificates together with any recommendations and forward these to the Council. 

What is a Form 12a certificate?

This is the certificate issued by the independent qualified person (IQP) verifying that the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures set out on the compliance schedule have been undertaken.  The IQP must attach to this form any other supporting documentation confirming compliance i.e. such as certificates of compliance, certificates of completion or producer statements for construction and construction review.

It is recommended that drawing(s) are provided on project completion showing the general location of all of the specified systems contained in the building. This ensures that a correct and accurate record exists for all systems and assists IQPs to determine whether all features have been properly inspected, maintained and reported on.

Who or what is an IQP?

This is a person identified by the Council as being a person qualified to carry out any performance inspection, maintenance or reporting on a particular system or feature.  IQPs (or IQP compliance companies) are employed by the building owner but must have the approval of the Council to undertake the work.  

The Council will assess the IQP to ascertain that they are appropriately qualified to undertake the work performed. (A fee may be charged for this assessment). ‘Independent’ means that the IQP has no financial interest in the building that they are auditing.

Getting professional help

 You cannot issue a BWOF certificate without getting the necessary checks completed and obtaining a certificate (known as a Form 12A) signed off. You can use an IQP compliance company to act as your agent to help sort out all the paper work. They can co-ordinate all specialist IQP inspections required for each of the specified systems in your building, collect the paper work and issue the BWOF as well as deal with the Council for you.

Tenants and the owner

The building owner’s responsibilities are clear, whether or not the building is tenanted. A building owner may delegate his / her responsibility to a tenant. This does not alleviate the owner from liability if the tenant fails to fulfil obligations. A building owner or anyone acting on the building owner’s behalf in signing a BWOF may be liable if they make a false or misleading statement in the BWOF.

Council inspections

The territorial authority is entitled to inspect a building and the specified systems in the building and may charge a fee (section 111).

(3)…..inspection means the taking of all reasonable steps to ensure that:

a. an annual building warrant of fitness supplied under section 108 is correct; and

b. every report under section 110 is correct


The Building Act 2004 contains a number of provisions to protect public health and safety that are important for building owners and managers. There is a range of penalties for failing to comply with these provisions:

  • If a person is the owner of a building for which a compliance schedule has been obtained, they are liable for a fine of up to $20,000 with a further fine of $2,000 for each day the offence is continued;
  • Building owners can be fined up to $20,000 for failing to display a Building Warrant of Fitness, or displaying a false or misleading Building Warrant of Fitness;
  • Building owners who fail to give written notice of a change of use commit an offence and are liable to a maximum fine of $5,000;
  • It is also an offence carrying a fine of up to $100,000 to use or permit the use of a building, which is not safe or sanitary, or if it has inadequate means of escape from fire.

The following forms apply to the Compliance Schedule and Building Warrant of Fitness regime:

  • Form 10 Compliance schedule statement form (issued by building consent authority)
  • Form 11 Application to amend a compliance schedule
  • Form 12 Building Warrant of Fitness (issued by owner or owner’s agent)
  • Form 12a Certificate of compliance with inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures (issued by IQP)

Forms 11 and 12 contain requirements to state the buildings current lawfully established use and the building occupant load. This information may be sourced from the building consent application form held by Council. Note the description of the building use should be clearly stated. For example: an office building containing retail space should be called “office and retail” not commercial.

Non-testable backflow prevention devices

Non-testable backflow devices must be included in the compliance schedule; the testing and reporting regime should reflect the type of device installed. There is a verification test in G12/AS1 for atmospheric vacuum breakers. Other non-testable backflow devices such as dual check valve assemblies should have an appropriate visual inspection and be replaced every two years.

Specified systems


Automatic systems for fire suppression


Sprinkler system


Gas and foam flood or deluge systems: dry and wet fire extinguishing systems


Automatic or manual emergency warning systems for fire or other dangers


Manual and automatic fire alarms: smoke /heat detectors: gas: radiation systems


Automatic gas leak detection systems for the detection and measurement of combustible gases


Electromagnetic or automatic doors or windows


Automatic doors e.g. sliding or revolving doors

  • Are any of the doors interfaced with emergency warning systems?


Access controlled doors (swipe card, key pad, sensor-delayed egress, etc


Interfaced fire or smoke door or windows (electromagnetic door holders)


Emergency lighting systems


Escape route pressurisation systems


Riser mains for use by fire services


Automatic back-flow preventers connected to a potable water supply


Lifts, escalators, travelators, or other systems for moving people or goods within a building


Passenger carrying lifts


Goods or service lifts


Escalators and moving walks


Mechanical ventilation or air conditioning systems


Building maintenance units or other devices providing access to the interior / exterior of a building


Laboratory fume cupboards


Audio loops or other assistive listening systems


Audio loop


FM radio frequency systems and infrared beam transmission


Smoke control systems


Mechanical smoke control systems


Natural smoke control systems


Smoke curtains


Emergency power systems for, or signs relating to, a system or feature in any of the specified systems 1–13


Emergency power systems installed for the purpose of supplying power to any of the specified systems 1 - 13


Signs for all systems


Any or all of the following systems and features, so long as they form part of a building’s means of escape from fire, and so long as those means also contain any or all of the systems or features specified in clauses 1 to 6, 9 and 13:


System for communicating spoken information intended to facilitate evacuation


Final exits


Fire separation


Signs for communicating information intended to facilitate evacuation: and such signs as required by:

  • NZBC (all systems):and
  • S.120 of the Act


Smoke separation


Cable cars





Natural Hazards

The Far North District experiences natural hazards in many different forms. The main areas of effect are slippage and flooding.

Identifying and addressing natural hazards

The Regional Council identifies hazard areas such as coastal hazard, indicative areas of flooding and erosion prone. FNDC has GIS mapping which identifies hazards, suspect ground and known events. Refer to Maps and Aerials for links.

Natural hazards are addressed by a range of regulatory processes, some of which arise under the Building Act 2004.The Building Act defines a 'natural hazard' as:-

  • Erosion including coastal erosion, bank erosion, and sheet erosion
  • Falling debris including soil, rock, snow, and ice
  • Subsidence
  • Inundation including flooding, overland flow, storm surge, tidal effects & ponding
  • Slippage

Refusal to grant consent on basis of natural hazards

FNDC as the Building Consent Authority (BCA) must refuse to grant a building consent for the construction of a building, or major alterations to a building, under Section 71(1)(a) & (b) of the Building Act if:

The land is subject to 1 or more natural hazards or the building work is likely to accelerate, worsen, or result in a natural hazard on that land, or any other property.

"Adequate provision" to protect and restore

However, under Section 71(2) the restriction on the BCA's ability to grant a building consent does not apply if:

The BCA is satisfied that 'adequate provision' has been made, or will be made, to:-

(a)  protect the land, building work, or other property from the natural hazard (s); or

(b)  restore any damage to that land or other property as a result of the building work.

What does 'adequate provision' mean?

In order to demonstrate that 'adequate provision' has been made for the purposes of Section 71(2)(a) or (b), applicants are required to provide a site-specific report from a Chartered Professional Engineer in support of their building consent application. The FNDC will take that report into account when deciding whether Sections 71(2)(a) or (b) apply.

The report must address Sections 71(2)(a) and/or (b) (as the case may be) and confirm that the applicable statutory requirements will be satisfied, including:

  • Confirmation that suitable mitigation of the relevant natural hazard has been or will be achieved on site;
  • Confirmation that the proposed design incorporates appropriate protection of the land, the building work, or other property and/or that any damage to the land or other property will be restored;
  • Producer Statement (PS1) certification of the design;
  • Assessment of compliance with the NZ Building Code

Alternative (Section 72)

Despite the requirements of Section 71, there are instances when the BCA must grant a building consent for building work on land subject to natural hazards. The criteria are set out in section 72 of the Building Act. They are:

  • The proposed building work will not accelerate, worsen, or result in a natural hazard on the land on which the building work is to be carried out or on any other property; and
  • The land is subject to, or is likely to be subject to, one or more natural hazards; and
  • It is reasonable to grant a waiver or modification of the building code in respect of the natural hazard (if required).

All of these criteria must be satisfied before section 72 will operate to avoid the restriction on a BCA's ability to grant a building consent that arises under section 71(1).

When a building consent is granted under section 72, the BCA must notify the Registrar-General of Land of the consent.  The Registrar-General of Land will then place an entry on the title of the land, confirming that the building consent has been granted under section 72 and identifying the natural hazard concerned (see Section 74 of the Building Act for more details).

Please note that an entry on a title under Section 74 of the Building Act may affect insurance arrangements for the proposed building work, or any existing building or land to which it relates.