Change of use of existing buildings

When the use of a building changes, Section 115 of the Building Act 2004 has to be considered.

To determine if the building is a change of use, see Sections 5, 6 and Schedule 2 of Building Regulations 2005 (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) for use of all or parts of the building. If part of the building changes use then the building needs to be considered under Section 115. Section 115 is in the Act to ensure the current building stock is being upgraded toward the current provisions of the building code.

An owner of a building must not change the use of the building:

a). in a case where the change involves the incorporation in the building of 1 or more household units where household units did not exist before, unless the territorial authority gives the owner written notice that the territorial authority is satisfied, on reasonable grounds, that the building, in its new use, will comply, as nearly as is reasonably practicable, with the building code in all respects; and

b). in any other case, unless the territorial authority gives the owner written notice that the territorial authority is satisfied, on reasonable grounds, that the building, in its new use, will:

b) i). comply, as nearly as is reasonably practicable, with every provision of the building code that relates to either or both of the following matters:

b) i) 1). means of escape from fire, protection of other property, sanitary facilities, structural performance, and fire-rating performance:

b) i) 2). access and facilities for people with disabilities (if this is a requirement under Section 118); and

b) ii). continue to comply with the other provisions of the building code to at least the same extent as before the change of use.

Evaluation considerations

For the Council Building Consent Authority to be satisfied consideration of Section 115 has been undertaken we require an evaluation to decide that the extent of the proposed upgrade will be effective.  The evaluation should contain

  • what should be in the building to satisfy A & B above as if this building was new
  • what the spaces in the building are currently used for
  • what is proposed to bring this building toward the standard required by i. above

The evaluation should also look at the benefits and sacrifices so we can consider what is ‘reasonably practicable’.

Note

We would recommend early in the design process that an appointment is made with a Council Senior Building Officer to discuss any concerns in relation to evaluating Section 115 issues. Meetings must be booked at least two working days before they are required.

Please phone +64 3 546 0200 for an appointment.

Other resources

Change of use, alterations and extension of life (MBIE website)

Defining 'as nearly as is reasonable practicable' (MBIE website)

Change of use and fire safety requirements (MBIE website)