Frequently Asked Questions


You will find most questions about the requirements for acceptable
documentation for residential
and light commercial/industrial
construction work here.

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Plans (architectural, structural, electrical, plumbing) and specifications together with relevant supporting information (certificates, installation instructions) are the key means of communication between all parties involved in a construction project.
They are required to:

  • be undertaken by a registered architect or a designer with a relevant and current design licence (LBP Design)
  • show compliance with the New Zealand Building Code so that a building consent can be granted
  • as sketch plans, form part of a resource consent (planning) application if the proposed building does not comply with the district plan
  • obtain other authorizations such as vehicle access approvals and encroachment licences
  • allow the work to be accurately priced/estimated
  • allow the work to be correctly constructed as envisaged by the designer and building owner
  • form part of the contractual agreement between the owner and the builder.

why do i need good documentation?

Good documentation can save you money and reduce:

  • time delays and the potential for requests for information (RFIs) during the consent approval process
  • inaccuracies in prices and quotes
  • disputes between the builder and the owner/designer
  • the need for extras (the cost of carrying out work not originally included is usually greater than that if it had been there at the start)
  • the need for amendments during construction.

what are the risks with not having good documentation?

Early on in the project, problems such as time delays and inaccurate costings may arise from poorly prepared drawings and specifications. These problems can often be avoided if the parties to the building process insist on clear and accurate documentation, including a fair contract that protects both the owner and builder.

Further down the track, the most common risk of time delays, inaccurate costings, disputes and the need for amendments during construction may be reduced if the parties to the building process insist on good documentation.

what other documents are included in the building consent application?

Producer statements, architectural and
structural design certificates, durability assessments, weathertightness opinions, thermal design calculations and specific fire engineering design make up part of the building consent application as required.

These documents must:

  • confirm that material quality, design standards or construction standards comply with the Building Code
  • confirm design assumptions as the work proceeds, where the work is an alteration.
  • be made by suitably qualified, independent, competent persons. A building consent authority (BCA) may decline to accept a producer statement if the credibility of the person supplying it cannot be established. Specific structural design can only be submitted from engineers with relevant experience and skills, such as a chartered professional engineer..


what comprises a complete package for good documentation?

All the final plans and specifications as described in the Building Act 2004 include:

  • the drawings, specification and other documents from which the building is to be constructed, altered, demolished or removed
  • the proposed procedures for inspection during construction
  • the definition of the intended building use
  • details of specified systems and procedures for their inspection and maintenance.

what does a good documentation set look like?

A good set of documents:

  • accurately represents the extent and content of the project by defining:
    • the scope of work to be done
    • the materials and products to be used by product name and manufacturer identification number or reference
    • acceptable standards of workmanship
    • levels of finish required by the client
  • shows sufficient detail so that the main contractor or sub-trades do not have to request a clarification or variation on what is required
  • is presented:
    • clearly and concisely
    • neatly and legibly
    • in a logical sequence
    • with consistency between drawings and specifications
    • with the drawings of different consultants coordinated to prevent conflicts, ambiguity or contradictions
    • with all dimensions shown and drawn to scale
    • with text of sufficient size and clarity to allow easy reading

what is the importance of good documentation?

The importance of good documentation is that it clearly shows, where required to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code, & supporting information that:

  • is relevant to the project or material being considered &
  • has the relevant Building Code clauses clearly stated 
  • is being used within the limitations of any certificate or certification.

what are the usual errors or OMISSIONS in consent documentation?

Most sets of drawings show the easy  and straightforward aspects of construction (which both the designer and builder could reasonably be expected to know) and do not include the complicated or nonstandard parts of the building. Where a particular construction detail is required, it must be shown in sufficient detail so the builder (and where subject to Building Code compliance, the BCA) can understand what is intended.

how can good drawings and documentation save money?

When building work is being priced, the quoted price will be more accurate when the information supplied is comprehensive, accurate and clear. Leaving it up to the person pricing to make assumptions about materials or finishes can lead to disputes and possible litigation where the contractor’s choice is at odds with the designer’s unstated vision. However, the contractor should avoid making assumptions and flag any unclear items. Significant queries can mean providing new details to all the prospective tenderers, and the tender period may need to be extended. It can also result in tagged tenders, slowing the tender acceptance process and making it difficult to compare tender prices.