The following email provides information about the potential impact of COVID-19 on building warrant of fitness (BWoF) requirements. Please read it carefully and pass it on to the relevant people and businesses.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is aware that there is uncertainty in the industry regarding BWoF requirements in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge that there is potential for the spread of COVID-19 to impact on the ability for owners/owner’s agents to fulfil their BWoF responsibilities.
Inspection and maintenance procedures
The Building Act 2004 (the Act) requires the inspection and maintenance procedures of the compliance schedule to be fully complied with for the previous 12 months in order for a BWoF to be issued (see section 108(3)(b) and (c)). The Act does not provide any flexibility or exemptions to this requirement. While the potential of a virus to disrupt ongoing BWoF compliance activities is new, the potential for, and occurrence of, missed inspection and maintenance procedures is not.
In the first instance, inspection and maintenance procedures should continue to be carried out where the risk of exposure to COVID-19 can be managed in line with health and safety obligations. We encourage building owners, compliance companies and IQPs to plan ahead for the potential impact of COVID-19 by putting measures in place that, where appropriate, will limit the impact on inspection and maintenance procedures rather than stopping them (e.g. by implementing polices whereby inspections are carried out without close contact with others or by ensuring appropriate protective equipment is used).
If certain critical procedures cannot be carried out and the absence of these procedures increases the risk to the health and life safety of building occupants or the public then building owners, compliance companies and IQPs should work with the relevant territorial authorities to manage the safe use of the building.
Amendments to compliance schedules
In some cases, it may be appropriate for a compliance schedule to be amended to reflect changed circumstances. For instance, where a building is no longer in use (e.g. a school is closed for a period of time), the compliance schedule could be amended to reduce the required inspection and maintenance procedures to only those that are essential to ensure public safety.
In the event a BWoF cannot be issued
Where a BWoF cannot be issued due to inspection and maintenance procedures being missed, an IQP could choose to provide a written report to the building owner setting out the procedures that have been complied with, the procedures that have not been complied with, the reasons for this and the effect of the non-compliance. The building owner can provide the report to the territorial authority along with the other Form 12As (even though the report will not constitute a Form 12A certificate). The territorial authority should then consider the degree of non-compliance with the procedures and decide what action, if any, it will take.