Building Compliance

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I own a commercial/industrial property, what does the Building Act say I have to do?

The Building Act’s purpose is to ensure buildings are safe and built right, the first time. Within the Act, it states that owners of a building containing specified system/s must obtain a Compliance Schedule and ensure that any specified system operates effectively for the life of the building. To ensure you meet your responsibilities, a Building Warrant of Fitness must be produced each year confirming all these systems have regularly been inspected, maintained and reported on.

What is a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF)?

A Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) is a certificate issued by the building owner confirming that all the specified systems contained within the building have been inspected and maintained and are performing in accordance with the compliance schedule. A BWOF verifies that the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures for all the specified systems within a building have been carried out in accordance with the compliance schedule for the previous 12 months.

As an owner / manager can I look after the whole BWoF process myself?

The short answer is no, you cannot simply inspect your own building. A BWoF requires that an IQP undertakes the inspection of your premises – that is, an Independent Qualified Person. An IQP is someone who is recognised by your local council as being sufficiently qualified to test, inspect and maintain specified systems within a building, to ensure they meet compliance. The ‘Independent’ refers to the fact that your IQP must have no financial interest in the building they are inspecting. This is why you would be unable to complete your own building’s BWoF; even if you were an IQP yourself.

Who is responsible for issuing the Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF)?

Issuing of the BWOF certificate is the owner’s responsibility; this document must be issued annually. The owner is required to display a copy of the BWOF certificate in a visible location in the building where it can be seen and to which the public have access.

In summary every year the building owner is required to:

  • Issue a BWOF
  • Display a copy of the BWOF certificate (Form 12) in a visible location
  • Provide Council with a copy of the BWOF and IQP Certificates (Form 12A)
  • Obtain annual written reports from IQP’s, relating to the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures of the compliance schedule.
  • These reports must be kept onsite for 2 years and be made readily available when requested by authorised building inspectors.

Penalties
The Building Act 2004 contains several provisions to protect public health and safety that are important for building owners and managers.

There is a range of penalties for failing to comply with these provisions:

  • If a person is the owner of a building for which a compliance schedule has been obtained, they are liable for a fine of up to $20,000 with a further fine of $2,000 for each day the offence is continued;
  • Building owners can be fined up to $20,000 for failing to display a Building Warrant of Fitness, or displaying a false or misleading Building Warrant of Fitness;
  • Building owners who fail to give written notice of a change of use commit an offence and are liable to a maximum fine of $5,000;
  • It is also an offence carrying a fine of up to $100,000 to use or permit the use of a building, which is not safe or sanitary, or if it has inadequate means of escape from fire.
Can I make my tenant responsible for the Building Warrant of Fitness?

The building owner’s responsibilities are clear, whether or not the building is tenanted. A building owner may delegate their responsibility to a tenant. But this does not alleviate the owner from liability if the tenant fails to fulfil obligations. A building owner or anyone acting on the building owner’s behalf in supplying documentation for the BWOF may be liable if they make a false or misleading statement.

How BWoF Ltd can help you?

You can use BWoF Ltd to act as your agent to help sort out all the paper work which can be for most owners a very onerous task. BWoF Ltd can on your behalf co-ordinate all specialist IQP inspections required for each of the specified systems in your building, collect the paper work and issue the BWOF as well as deal with the Council for you. We also have various specialist staff available to provide additional compliance advice and technical support.

Bulding warrent of fitness
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