LBP, RBW & Owner Builder Exemptions
When do you need an LBP?
If you’re thinking of getting building or renovation work done on your house or apartment, you need to check if it’s ‘restricted building work’ (RBW). If it is, you’ll need a licensed building practitioner – or LBP – to do it or it must be done under the owner builder exemption.
Restricted building work involves the building’s structure, weathertightness, and design of fire safety systems.
Because this work is so important, it’s only allowed to be done by licensed building practitioners (LBPs). LBPs are assessed before getting licensed, and have to maintain their skills to keep their licence.
Restricted building work, and the requirement to use LBPs to do it, was brought in on 1 March 2012 (through changes to the Building Act 2004).
What are LBPs?
In November 2007 the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) (formerly Department of Building and Housing) established the licensed building practitioner scheme under the Building Act 2004.
This scheme sets out a regulated process where skilled and/or qualified building practitioners must demonstrate their ability to meet industry consulted competencies in order to obtain the status of being LBPs.
The scheme has 7 licence classes:
- Site (these are on-site supervisors or project managers)
- External Plastering
- Brick and Blocklaying
Registered architects, plumbers and chartered professional engineers are also treated as being licensed to do or supervise certain elements of RBW.
Why restricted building work (RBW) is important
Restricted building work (RBW) is work that is critical to the integrity of a building. It must be done properly to ensure the building is structurally sound and weathertight.
Restricted building work can only be done or supervised by tradespeople who have proven they are properly skilled – licensed building practitioners (LBPs).
It is an offence for an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise RBW. It is also an offence to knowingly engage an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise restricted building work.
How to identify restricted building work (RBW)
RBW is everything that involves or affects the:
- Outside of the building, which has an influence on weathertightness. This includes anything that prevents the entry of outside moisture and helps control moisture inside the building fabric. For example:
- damp-proofing your floor area, on and underneath floors
- roof and wall cladding systems (windows, ventilators, openings and penetrations etc.)
- waterproofing anything that is exposed to airborne moisture or can allow moisture to enter the building, such as a balcony.
- Design of fire safety systems. This work involves elements intended to protect people and property from fire. For example:
- an adjacent household unit in an apartment building is at risk if one catches fire
- automatic doors and windows
- escape routes
What is NOT restricted building work (RBW)
If it doesn’t need a building consent, it’s not restricted building work.
If it doesn’t involve work to the home’s primary structure, weathertightness or design of fire safety systems, then it’s not restricted building work. For example:
- Fitting new sanitary fixtures where there weren't any before (new kitchen, ensuite etc.)
- Installing a wood burner
- Domestic wind turbine
- Domestic swimming pool and pool fence
- Installing a cable car to a home
- Installing other specified systems in small/medium apartments (smoke alarms, lift, heating, ventilation and air conditioning - HVAC - system etc.)
- Installing insulation to external walls in a home
Most building plans that need building consent from your council will include restricted building work (RBW) – but not all.
If it doesn’t involve work to the home’s primary structure, weather-tightness or design of fire safety systems, it’s not restricted building work.
You need to think about RBW as soon as you start thinking about getting the work done. If you are hiring a designer, be sure to hire someone who can do RBW.
Your designer must be an LBP, registered architect or chartered professional engineer (they are treated as LBPs for design services) to do restricted building work.
When the work is RBW you need to:
- employ licensed building practitioners (LBPs) to do or supervise the work
- Designers (registered architects and chartered professional engineers can also do Design RBW)
- Brick and blocklayers
- External plasterers
- Foundation specialists
- stipulate who the LBP is in your building consent application to the council. If you don’t have this information when you send in your application, you must let the council know before RBW starts
- tell the council if you replace the LBP
- make sure the LBP gives you a completed ‘record of building work’ when they’ve finished their part of the job
- provide a copy to the council as part of your code compliance certificate (CCC) application.
Why use an LBP
Hiring good professionals to help you can be crucial to the whole building experience. Licensed building practitioners (LBPs) have undergone a robust application process, including a written application, verbal testing by proficient assessors, and referees’ confirmation of their work. They keep up with the changing industry and undergo continuous skills maintenance.
Managing building projects
If you do not want to manage the building project yourself then you may want to consider engaging a Site LBP.
A Site LBP shows competency in organising and managing building projects. This includes having up to date knowledge of regulatory requirements, technical knowledge of construction methods and practices, managing personnel and providing technical supervision.
When you undertake a building project make certain that your designer is licensed or is a registered architect or a chartered professional engineer.
Design work that includes RBW may not be submitted by an unlicensed person and will need to be checked by a licensed designer; registered architect or chartered professional engineer.
Owner - builders
An owner-builder are able to carry out restricted building work (RBW) on their own home.
You are an owner - builder if you:
- live in or are going to live in the home (includes a bach or holiday home)
- carry out the RBW on your own home yourself, or with the help of your unpaid friends and family members, and
- have not, under the owner - builder exemption, carried out RBW to any other home within the previous 3 years.
Most DIY (do-it-yourself) work is usually minor repair, maintenance or alteration work, and doesn’t fall within the category of RBW. For this work nothing has changed and homeowners can continue to do this work as they always have.
RBW is work that requires a building consent and relates to the primary structure of your home, or affects its weathertightness. Building work that is in the RBW category must only be done by or under the supervision of LBPs, unless you are using the owner - builder exemption. If you are a suitably skilled owner - builder and meet the criteria above, you can carry out this work, but if you have any doubts you are recommended to hire an LBP to do this critical building work.
An owner-builder is responsible for ensuring that RBW carried out under the owner - builder exemption complies with the building consent and the relevant plans and specifications.
As the owner-builder you may have family members and friends helping with the RBW to your home, as long as you are not paying them to help you.
Future buyers will have access to information that shows the building work was carried out by the owner rather than an LBP.
Using the owner - builder exemption
Before you can use the owner - builder exemption you need a written declaration showing that you meet the owner - builder criteria. This is a Statutory Declaration as to owner - builder status. The Statutory Declaration form has to be witnessed and signed by a Justice of the Peace or someone else authorised by law do so. This form needs to be given to your local council with your application for a building consent, or before the construction of RBW on your home starts.
It is an offence under the Crimes Act 1961 to give false information in a Statutory Declaration, and it is also an offence under the Building Act 2004 to give false information.
Your local council can give you more information on the owner - builder exemption or Legislative detail can be viewed on - line by searching Building Act 2004 .