Inspections Building Consent

How work is inspected

How work is inspected

Whatever your building project, if a building consent is required the building work will need to be inspected for compliance. Inspections ensure that each stage of the building work meets the requirements of the approved plans and specifications. Inspections occur at regular stages throughout the building process and allow the Building Officers to gather enough information to issue the Code Compliance Certificate when the project is completed.

A missed inspection can have significant consequences for the owner and contractors. It might mean some work has to be undone and redone. It could also prevent the council from signing off the build.

Through regular inspections, you and the council can be confident that the work has been done according to the consented plans. One of the reasons councils do this as the project progresses, rather than at the end, is so they can see work while it is still exposed. For example, if they only inspected framing at the end of the build they would have to remove the interior wall linings to check it had been done properly.

The required inspections will be listed in your building consent, based on the council’s evaluation of your plans, specifications and other information. They could include inspections by your nominated engineer, if your project requires it.

Common inspections for residential buildings can include:

  • pre-pour (before concrete is poured, for example, for piles, footings, slabs, in situ walls or blockwork infill) 
  • tanking/waterproofing (before back-filling retaining walls, covering membranes on decks or laying tiles in wet areas such as showers)
  • pre-clad (before wrapping the building in building paper or building wrap and installing the cladding)
  • post-clad (before applying coatings to fibre cement or polystyrene systems, possibly including inspections during plastering)
  • pre-line (with insulation installed but before installing internal linings. This inspection may include checking the plumbing installation under pressure test)
  • drainage (before filling in trenches and covering the in-ground pipework). Pipework should be under test for this inspection. Drainage testing can include smoke, air or water testing
  • final inspection for plumbing, building and drainage work (once the work described in the building consent is complete).

Generally, gas and electrical work is not inspected as it must be done by a licensed professional. On completion of the work they will give you a signed energy work certificate. Keep all energy work certificates safe and on site with your other project documentation. You will need to show all documentation to your council to get final sign-off.

If your building consent includes a producer statement, the professional who issued it may be involved in inspections.

Make sure you understand what inspections are needed and when. Discuss them with your council if you need any clarification.

The council does not verify the quality of the building work beyond checking it complies. Their role is not to comment on the aesthetics or the quality of workmanship

A list of inspections will be included with your Building Consent. Please read these before you start any building work. As owner/agent, it is your responsibility, to let the Council know when these stages have been reached. Phone your Council to arrange an inspection time. The building contractor or person managing the building project may do this on your behalf, but it is your responsibility to ensure that these inspections do occur.

Allow at least 24 hours’ notice for an inspection, but if no available inspection appointments are left, the inspection will have to be booked for the next available time which could be several days later. If the building industry in your district is very busy, you may have to wait longer.

NOTE: Make sure you have provided Council with the names of all the LBPs who will be doing or supervising any restricted building work because, without these names, an inspection cannot be booked. 

Please supply the following details when you book your inspection:

  • Building Consent number
  • Site address
  • Type of inspection
  • Contact phone number of person on-site

If possible it is useful if the contact person (e.g. builder, site manager, owner or agent) is on-site for all inspections. Access to the building site must be provided. A full set of approved Building Consent plans and documents must be on-site and available for the Building Officer to check. The inspectors will bring the necessary tools required for the inspection.

Check that you are ready before you book the inspection.

  • If work is not ready to be inspected, the officer will either fail the inspection or walk away and not carry out the inspection. In either case, you will have to book another one. If you are not ready, please cancel the inspection so that the time slot can be used by someone else.
  • If the work does not comply with the approved plans and specifications, it will be failed.
  • Repeat inspections will incur additional costs.
  • Inspection Checklists are available online. All items on the checklist, big or small, must be compliant with the approved building consent documents (plans and specifications) in order for the Building Officer to pass the inspection. So it’s a good idea to use these lists to check that you are ready for an inspection before you book it, thus saving time for both yourself and Council.
  • Have you arranged for access to the building, or building work, so that the building officer can carry out the inspection? This includes safe access to ‘off-the-ground’ areas.

All building officers have undertaken Site Safety training so that they can recognise existing hazards and remain safe while carrying out their duties. They are required by Council (under the Health and Safety at work Act 2015, to take reasonable care for their own health and safety. As a consequence, if the officer perceives the building site to be dangerous they can refuse to carry out the inspection until the risk has been removed or mitigated.

During an inspection, the building officer checks that the construction complies with the approved plans and specifications for the building consent. They note down their findings on inspection checklists. These go on the property file when they return to the office. At the end of an inspection, they communicate the inspection outcome by sending:

  • a copy of the checklist, or
  • a memo or site instruction, or
  • an inspection receipt, or
  • verbally inform you of the outcomes of the inspection.

If an inspection has failed because the work is incomplete or non-compliant, this will be communicated to you. Another inspection will be required to inspect the remedial work.

If building work is completed but not compliant, a Notice to Fix may be issued. MBIE Guidance here 

A Notice to Fix is a formal notice issued by the Building Consent Authority (Council) advising that certain works have not been carried out in accordance with the Building Act (Building Act 2004, s163 – 168). If a Notice to Fix is issued you are legally required to address the issues identified within the time-frame stated in the Notice in order to prevent further enforcement action being taken. The Council will set the time-frame to what it believes is reasonable in order to allow you sufficient time to address the issue(s). Where there are serious health and safety risks, a short period of time may be stated.

Agreement with the building inspector for the continuation of building work for certain areas that are unaffected by or associated with non-compliant building work may be formed.  However, the non-compliant building work must be fixed and then checked by a building inspector for compliance with the issued building consent within the advised timeframe.  

All Building Consents for new and existing dwelling buildings requires that you install smoke alarms throughout the building. This will be checked during processing and inspections. The Building Code allows smoke alarms to be battery powered and not interconnected. However, they must have a ‘hush’ facility with a 60-second minimum duration and have a test facility (usually a button or switch) that is easily accessible.

Smoke alarms must be listed or approved by a recognised authority as complying with at least one of the following standards: UL 217, ULC S531, AS 3786 and BS 5446 Part 1. Smoke alarms must be located on the escape routes on all levels within the house and be located in areas where people sleep, either in every sleeping area or within three metres of every bedroom door. The alarms must be audible to sleeping occupants on the other side of the closed door. Smoke alarms are to be installed on or near the ceiling, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

All Building Consents require a final inspection, to check that the completed building complies with the approved Building Consent Documentation. As soon as you are certain that the building project has been completed, book a final inspection with the Council that issued the building consent. Remember to allow time for the availability of inspectors. 

Make sure that you have completed the following:

  • Address any issues that have been identified in any of the inspections.
  • Addressed all relevant areas listed on the Final inspection Checklists (above)
  • All wet areas need to be finished,
  • All exterior ground levels need to be finished
  • All exterior areas need to be painted (if applicable).
  • The building has to be finished to a showroom standard.
  • All required documentation for your project has been completed in full and is ready to submit to the council. Check your building consent as it will list the documents required. For example Producer Statements, As-laid Drainage Plans, and energy certificates.