Everyone involved in the building process has responsibilities and obligations. You may well not be aware of your responsibilities if you are not involved in building projects regularly.

Outlined below we have provided an overview of responsibilities and obligations for the various people who may be involved in your build project.


As the owner you have certain legal responsibilities when applying for building approvals. You’re responsible for:

  • obtaining any necessary consents, approvals or certificates, including the code compliance certificate and compliance schedule (if required)
  • advising who will carry out any restricted building work
  • making sure that any building work carried out by you complies with the building consent or, if there’s no building consent, with the building code
  • advising the building consent authority if during your build any materials are changed as the change may need an amendment to your building consent
  • ensuring compliance with any notice to fix.

You can use an agent to do the above tasks for you, except for notices to fix – you can’t transfer responsibility of these to anyone else.

Appointing an agent to manage the above does not free you of your ultimate responsibility.

You’ll receive a copy of all communications about your project to help you meet your responsibilities and to keep you informed.

When making any changes to your contract make sure you agree to these in writing with the main contractor to avoid any misunderstandings.

On an ongoing basis you’re responsible for:

  • notifying council of any
    • proposed change of use for the building, even when it doesn’t require a building consent
    • extension of life for a building with a specified life
    • subdivision of a property with an existing building
    • alterations, even if they don’t require a building consent (alterations can trigger upgrade requirements, such as smoke detectors or insulation)
  • keeping your building safe and sanitary
  • ensuring inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures are carried out and where you have a compliance schedule for specified systems
  • getting professional engineering advice and acting on it if there are concerns about building safety in earthquakes.

Owner builders

You’re an owner builder if you:

  • own (yourself or jointly with another person), or
  • have a beneficial legal interest in the land and/or house the building work is being done on (a legal interest includes being a beneficiary of a trust, shareholder of a company, co-owner of Maori land, or having possession of a long-term lease), and
  • genuinely intend to occupy (or already occupy) the house and not be building (or altering) it only to sell it or rent it to someone else.

As an owner builder you’ re responsible for making sure that restricted building work carried out under the owner builder exemption

  • complies with the building consent plans and specifications,
  • is carried out by you or with the help of your unpaid family and friends, and
  • you haven’t carried out restricted building work to any other home within the three previous years.


“Designer” has a very broad meaning here. It isn’t just a licensed designer or architect, but anyone who has input into the plans and specifications or advises on compliance of building work with the building code.

They’re responsible for making sure that the plans, specifications and any advice they provide will result in the building work complying with the building code, if the building is built to those plans, specifications, and advice.

When we receive your building consent application our building control staff will review the plans and specifications for your proposed building work to satisfy ourselves that the designer has met this requirement.

You must complete and include with the consent application a certificate design of work if you are an architectural designer, architect or engineer carrying out or supervising design of restricted building work.

As an LBP you are responsible for ensuring there is enough relevant information available and all restricted building work is clearly identified in your certificate of design work or record of work.

Where more than one designer has been involved in the design of the project, the primary designer is responsible for making sure all information aligns and it is clear what work has been carried out or what aspects of the design work has been supervised.

Refer to a worked example of a certificate of design work [PDF, 305 KB] for guidance on how this should be completed. If you need additional support or information you can also seek guidance from the LBP Board.


A builder is the person who carries out building work, whether in trade or not.

They’re responsible for building the project to the consented plans and specifications. The builder is also responsible for making sure that any building work not covered by a building consent complies with the building code.

All residential building work to the value of $30,000 including GST or more must have a contract in place.

Before signing the contract, building contractors must provide

  • details of their qualifications
  • licencing status
  • insurance policies
  • guarantees.

So long as the contractor meets the requirements of the Building Act they only have to say if they provide any additional guarantee or not - it doesn’t mean that they need to provide one.

The builder must however supply information to the building owner about

  • ongoing maintenance
  • insurance policies (ie third party insurance)
  • warranties of products and services relating to the building.

Licensed building practitioners

During a build any restricted building work must be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner (LBP).  These are designers, builders, roofers, bricklayers, carpenters, external plasterers and foundations specialists who have been assessed as skilled to carry out this very important work.

You can verify whether the people you’re thinking about using are licensed by checking the Licensed Building Practitioners register maintained by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

A licensed building practitioner is responsible for making sure that

  • all restricted building work on the project is carried out or supervised by them
  • they are licensed in a class for carrying out or supervising that restricted building work.

LBPs have a code of ethics which sets behavioural standards for LBPs to give both the industry and consumers clarity on what's expected from LBPs, and to hold them to account.

Product manufacturers/suppliers

A product manufacturer or supplier is a person or company who manufactures or supplies a building product.

They are responsible for

  • making sure their products meet the building code requirements
  • providing the supporting technical data, plans, specifications and advice to the building industry for their products and materials
  • confirming that that the product will, if installed correctly, meet the performance standards of the building code.

Building Consent Authority

A building consent authority (BCA) is responsible for all building control functions as follows

  • building consenting
  • building inspections
  • notices to fix
  • code compliance certificates
  • compliance schedules.

Under the Building Act 2004 their responsibility is to

  • make sure that an application for a building consent complies with the building code
  • check that the building work is carried out matches with the building consent for that work
  • issue consents and certificates under the rules of the Building Act 2004.

Not all building consent authorities are councils. Selwyn District Council is a registered and accredited building consent authority.

We also carry out building related activity as the Territorial Authority, including

  • project information memorandums
  • waivers and modifications
  • discretionary exemptions
  • certificates of acceptance
  • certificates of public use
  • notices under the Building Act 2004
  • compliance inspections of residential pools
  • enforcing annual building warrant of fitness
  • compliance schedule amendments
  • record keeping.