Utility Navigation

Home  |   Accessibility  |   Sitemap  | 

Main Navigation

Current location in the site

August 15 2005 - Update

ARCHIVED Building Act 2004 implications, Internal rail positioning & Contractor Lists


This article summarises the impact of the Building Act 2004 on housing modifications funded by the Ministry Of Health. It also includes information on what Specialised Housing Assessors can do to assist their clients, and what Enable New Zealand and accessable are doing in response to changes caused by the Act.

From the 31 March 2005 the Building Act 2004 became law and the Building Act 1991 was repealed. This involved change to the way Territorial Authorities operate when checking and approving building work.

The Building Act 2004 was introduced to govern the building industry, partly as a response to the leaky building issues. The Act comes into force progressively over the next five years. It has and will impact on housing modifications funded by the Ministry of Health and administered by Enable New Zealand and accessable.

The Building Act has impacted upon work that requires building consent through increased costs, extended time delays, the need for Territorial Authorities to be accredited, and the licensing of Building Practitioners. Restricted building works includes but is not limited to:

  • Level Access Shower
  • Shower over the bath where no fixed shower exists
  • Low rise platform lift
  • Alterations to plumbing
  • Wall removal
  • Fencing over 2 metres high
  • Ramps (where a person can fall more than 1 metre)
  • Doorway widening

Modifications excluded from consent requirements includes, but is not limited to:

  • Ramps (where a person can fall less than 1 metre)
  • Easy steps (where a person can fall less than 1 metre)
  • Handrails


The Building Act 2004 has created increased costs on a number of levels for housing modifications funded by the Ministry of Health. Factors have included:

1. Increased requirements for documentation, including formal plans and specifications
2. Increased delays by Territorial Authorities to complete required processes
3. Additional time needed by Contractors to prepare documentation, and obtain building consent
4. Increased consent fees
5. Obtaining proof of ownership and time taken to complete a Title search
6. Interpretation of what is required to meet compliance with Building Codes
7. Requirement for additional and more thorough building inspections
8. Need for the Contractor to make application for Code Compliance Certificate at completion of the housing modification.


The Act sets timeframes for Building Consent Authorities, such as local councils, to work towards.  Timeframes are longer than in the past and reflect the greater complexity of the process of review now being undertaken by Building Consent Authorities.  These extended timeframes will create significant delays in some areas. For example, building consent timeframe is now 20 working days. While Councils are endeavouring to meet timeframes, they are not always doing so.

What can Specialised Housing Assessors do to assist clients?

Firstly, Specialised Housing Assessors should be aware of the Building Act 2004. Further information on the Act can be obtained from:

It is essential that the client and Specialised Housing Assessor have the opportunity to explore all options of equipment and support before a decision is made to apply for housing modifications. Options include increased support from NASC, swivel bathers, shower chairs, shower stools, bath lifts, bath boards, bath seats, transfer benches, adjustable sliding platform shower chairs and any other new or reissue equipment solutions available.

If housing modifications are recommended the client/family must be made aware of the potential for significant time delays.

Specialised Housing Assessors can help alleviate time delays by providing documentation that is legible and easy to understand.

What are Enable New Zealand and accessable doing in response to the Act?

Enable New Zealand and accessable are:

  • Liaising with Local Councils and the Department of Building and Housing
  • Looking at ways to pro-actively overcome the delays and costs associated with the Building Act changes
  • Keeping the Ministry of Health informed of the impact and extent of these changes as we become aware of them. The Ministry of Health is considering the implications of the changes as part of their wider work programme.

Enable New Zealand and accessable continue to monitor the situation and will keep Specialised Housing Assessors informed of ongoing impacts of the Act as they come to our attention. In the meantime, if you have concerns about these changes that you wish to discuss, please contact the Housing Advisors at either Enable New Zealand or accessable.


Enable New Zealand and accessable have some concerns about the positioning of internal rails.

Some rails in showers, bathrooms and toilets are being installed in locations that are non-functional for the client. The issue is often due to insufficient documentation from the Specialised Housing Assessor regarding the position of the rails.  For example, some documentation has included the words "as agreed with client and contractor." This is not sufficient to ensure that the rails are installed to meet the client's essential disability related needs.

It is the responsibility of Specialised Housing Assessors to specify where rails are to be located. This must be documented using the Specification sheet for the installation of rails, including the proposed fixing point. If specifications cannot be described in words then a diagram with dimensions must be also be included.
Documentation that goes to the Contractor must clearly state the location of any rails.  This includes measurements i.e. height from floor, length of rail and distance from corner, and whether the rail is vertical, horizontal or angled.

The Contractor is responsible for evaluating the proposed modification against set building guidelines and confirming that suitable fixing is available.


The Enable New Zealand contractor lists are now available on the Disability Funding Info website in the Specialised Assessor's section. The lists include housing contractors for each DHB, and equipment subcontractors. Any amendments to the lists will be immediately updated on the website.

Feature lists