Disputes and Resolution

There are multiple ways to resolve problems in the Building Compliance sphere.

The first option is to seek resolution by: 
  • ensuring that one has all the facts and if not,
  • asking for clarification,
  • checking any contracts that are relevant, then,
  • communicating and discussing the problem with the affected parties and, 
  • recording this discussion, as well as any agreements made, in writing.

Additionally, most councils have a building complaint service where one can seek resolution.
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This is not the only process however; third-party Alternative Dispute Resolution such as mediation, arbitration, and adjudication can be other routes to resolution.

There are three levels of seriousness depending on the willingness to meet, whether one can agree, and whether the parties have money to pay to resolve the problem. Mediation is simply a meeting of the parties. Arbitration is legally binding and run by an arbitrator. Adjudication is a mixture of the two, run by an adjudicator who has lesser powers when compared to an arbitrator.

MBIE makes legally binding decisions called Determinations about disputed matters under the Building Act 2004. Often these are about decisions made by council such as the issuing or refusal to issue formal certificates like a code compliance certificate.

Finally, there is either the Disputes Tribunal for small claims (less than $30,000) or the District Court if for larger claims (Up to $ 350,000).

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Notices to Fix

Occasionally, councils’ issue Notices to Fix, which are formal stop-work notices under the Building Act 2004. These notices are issued as a last resort. They are specific and time bound and need to be actioned immediately. They will reference what section has been breached, and what offence committed under the Act.

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Infringement Notices

There are instant fines under the Building Act 2004 called infringement notices.

They are for specific things and the fines are set fees. 

Examples of offences under the Act include: 
  • building without consent (s 40)
  • failing to display a building warrant of fitness (s 108(5)(a) )
  • not complying with a compliance schedule (s 101)
  • failing to comply with a notice to fix (s 168)

If you want to know more, see: Schedule 1 of the Building (Infringement Offences, Fees and Forms) Regulations 2007.

It is unusual for infringement notices and offences directly against the Act to go to Court. Most court cases in this space are appeals of Determinations.