Building Code requirements

The first step towards compliance is identifying the relevant Building Code requirements.

The Building Code sets out the minimum levels of performance that new building work must meet or exceed. It consists of three clauses of general provisions and 38 clauses covering specific areas such as structure, durability, moisture, energy efficiency, fire safety and services such as electricity and water supply.

While the Code sets out minimum performance requirements, it does not say how performance might be achieved.

Acceptable solutions and verification methods

Most clauses in The Building Code have Acceptable Solutions or Verification Methods that describe how the performance requirements of the particular clause can be met.

Acceptable solutions and Verification Methods are not mandatory but, if followed to the letter, they provide a means of compliance with the Building Code that must be accepted by building consent authorities.

These documents are updated and changed from time to time. The latest versions can be downloaded from the MBIE building performance website.

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Alternative methods

Renovation work often falls outside the scope of Acceptable Solutions, Verification Methods and certified products and methods. This means that an Alternative Method must be used to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code. Once it receives consent, the Alternative Method is known as an Alternative Solution.

Alternative methods may be used in renovations when there is no Acceptable Solution or Verification Method that directly covers the building method or product the designer proposes to use. An Alternative Method may involve minor variation from Acceptable Solutions, or take a completely different approach. It may be less robust than a comparable Acceptable Solution so long as it meets the Code requirements. And it may relate to an entire building or merely to part.

Alternative methods are often relevant for renovation work, for example for demonstrating that the materials and methods used in the existing building meet Code requirements.

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Identifying relevant Building Code clauses

The first step is to identify the Building Code clauses relevant to the construction work. Key Building Code clauses that must generally be considered in renovations include:

  • B1 Structure
  • B2 Durability 
  • E2 External moisture
  • H1 Energy efficiency.

Note that B2 Durability will require consideration in all renovation work situations.

Other clauses that may also need to be addressed include the following.

Clause Specific circumstances
Fire safety  
C Protection from Fire Installing interconnected smoke alarms is mandatory in all new residential construction work including additions and alterations. There are additional requirements for apartment buildings and other buildings that fall within the scope of C/AS2
E1 Surface water Where the building may still have a combined foul and stormwater system
E3 Internal moisture  
D1 Access routes Where there are stairs within the building and for access from the street to the building
F2 Hazardous building materials Where asbestos (cladding, flooring, textured coatings) in the existing building, the use of glass in any renovation work, and the presence or use of other hazardous materials
F4 Safety from falling Where decks are added to the building or the building has stairs or changes of floor level
F5 Construction and demolition hazards To safeguard people from injury and other property from damage caused by construction or demolition site hazards.
F7 Warning systems F7/AS1 references C/AS1 and C/AS1. Installing interconnected smoke alarms is mandatory in all new residential construction work including additions and alterations
Services and facilities  
G1 Personal hygiene  
G2 Laundering  
G3 Food preparation and prevention of contamination  
G4 Ventilation  Installing mechanical extract fans in rooms with cooktops, showers and baths
G5 Interior environment  
G6 Airborne and impact sound Where the existing building contains more than one dwelling unit
G7 Natural light  
G8 Artificial light  
G9 Electricity  
G11 Gas as an energy source  
G12 Water supplies  
G13 Foul water