The case for the Independent Building Compliance Company

New Zealand is well serviced by a robust building warrant of fitness regime first introduced in the Building Act 1991 and subsequently the Building Act 2004. This legislation has contributed in large part to our stock of commercial buildings being some of the safest in the developed world to work, live in and to visit. Our BWoF regime is acknowledged by professionals in other countries to be a leading example of maintaining building standards for fire, egress and systems safety.

The options for building owners and their managers to obtain a building warrant of fitness broadly sits in two camps, an independent BWoF service company or a fire systems company.  Other options are available but they are dwarfed by the dominance of the two outlined.

This article highlights why building owners and managers are remaining with and/or moving to an independent option rather than the fire systems company option.

A building warrant of fitness is the visible component to the obligations of a complex document – the Compliance Schedule (C/S). The C/S is the basis for the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures of all specified systems within a building and is the foundation documentation behind the annual current BWoF displayed in a building. Managing multiple compliance schedules and the work that evolves from this in relation to ensuring the correct inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures has become a specialist skill. This skill requires day to day detailed knowledge of the Building Act, Building Act Amendments, Building Codes, NZ Standards past and present, MBIE, numerous local authorities and their individual interpretations of the Building Act. Navigating and managing all of this has become an independent BWoF manager’s daily bread and butter which we embrace and excel at.

To have a holistic view and knowledge across all specified systems and the contractors maintaining these systems is a specialist consulting skill which, from our observations and anecdotally, are generally only found in specialist independent BWoF management companies.

The independent BWoF service company particularly those with specialist fire design and fire engineering capability, provide independent unbiased advice in relation to remedial works and can take care of complicated compliance legislative and regulatory requirements. They also have no vested interests in installations or remedial and callout work.

We have all heard of situations where owners feel forced to approve significant defect costs before they will be given a Form 12A certificate from a fire systems company. Owners feel they are being left with little choice and often reluctantly acquiesce in order to avoid being without a current BWoF. The specialist BWoF manager can give advice as to what can and cannot hold up a BWoF, often finding an alternative more cost effective solution.

The independent building compliance management company can help clients avoid unnecessary expenditure over long periods of time and will on balance deliver a higher quality of service for what has now become a specialist skill set – the building compliance manager.

To discuss further contact Laura Williams, National Operations Manager for Building Compliance  |  029 520 9599