Determinations provide specific confirmation that a proposal meets Code requirements.
This option involves applying to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for a determination on whether the proposed Alternative Method will be Building Code-compliant. There is a clearly defined process that must be followed and is accompanied by a set fee depending on the type of determination required.
The MBIE reviews the application and provides a legally binding opinion on compliance. If the MBIE determination finds that a product or method complies with Building Code performance requirements, a building consent authority must accept this. However, parties involved in the determination have the right to challenge the MBIE’s findings.
A designer can use a past determination as an Alternative Method or as supporting documentation for an Alternative Method. However, the determination must be directly relevant to the proposed solution, and the building consent authority is not obliged to accept the proposal as Code-compliant.
Determinations can be a useful tool for renovation work, particularly where the BCA has not accepted a like-for-like situation or use of the proposed construction elsewhere.
They can also be used before the designer applies for building consent, in order to determine if the proposed solution will meet Building Code requirements.
Other situations where applying for a determination may be appropriate could include:
- roof pitches to match existing that are lower than that currently recommended (provided the original roof has met minimum durability requirements)
- durability of a timber not specifically covered by NZS 3602 Timber and wood-based products for use in building
- ground clearances where the new floor has to match into existing floor levels
- cladding matching the direct fixed existing where a design following E2/AS1 would require a cavity
- where there is difficulty in meeting current energy efficiency requirements, for example, for existing walls or windows.