Disability Access NZ


Is it a Legal Requirement to have Disabled Access?

Ian McKenzie, Building Compliance Consultant & Fire Designer at CoveKinloch, talks us through whatDisabled Access is required under the NZ Building Act and how we can help.

To find out more about Disability Access look here.

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When altering an existing building the New Zealand Building Act requires that the Building Consent Authority is satisfied that, after the alteration, the building will comply as nearly as is reasonably practicable with the provisions of the Building Code that relate to the following:

  1. Means of Escape from Fire.
  2. Access and facilities for persons with disabilities.

All other provisions of the Building Code only need to comply to the same extent as before the alteration.

We specialise in both means of escape from fire and access and facilities for persons with disabilities.  Means of escape from fire is handled by our fire engineering team refer Fire Engineering.

Accessibility issues are complex particularly with existing buildings and compliance will be required to obtain a building consent. We are now increasingly seeing the use of “Accessibility Reports” accompanying architectural documentation as part of the package submitted for building consent in the same way a Fire Design Report is attached.

The use of such reports provides three key benefits:

  1. They allow a specialist to focus on the accessibility requirements enabling the architect or designer to focus on key design matters rather than compliance elements.
  2. The Building Consent Authority can review compliance with greater surety and speed during the application review process.
  3. As this is a legal requirement under the Building Act and also has elements that relate to Health and Safety, by having a third party engaged to complete an Accessibility Report there is shared responsibility in relation to this aspect of the Building Act.

Typically an “Accessibility Report” will cover matters such as door widths, surface finishes, toilet layout and numbers, lifts, handrails, car parking and signage. Our reports will identify non-compliance with New Zealand Standard Design for Access and Mobility – Building Associated Facilities, NZS4121:2001.

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