The purpose of the Natural Hazard Provisions is to allow the Council to grant building consents knowing that building code compliance may be compromised in the event of a natural hazard. However, it’s crucial for owners to be aware, do their research and get advice when understanding natural hazards implications concerning your project.
The recent weather events across the North Island have been heart wrenching to witness and have caused major damage to homes, businesses, and communities. However, many people are not fully aware of the provisions related to natural hazards within the NZ Building Act (sections 71-74). In this article, we aim to provide you with a better understanding of these provisions to help you avoid delays during the consenting process for your project.
The RMA vs The Building Act
It is important to note that there are differences between the way the Resource Management Act (RMA) and the Building Act deal with natural hazards. For example, during a significant flood typically the RMA only requires that the floor level of a building be above a specific flood level, while the Building Act takes a more comprehensive approach.
The Building Act requires you to consider;
1. The potential for water damage to the building work
2. Any effects on the land that is connected to the building work, and
3. The risk of the new building displacing water and damaging other property.
When is a Hazard a Hazard?
The Building Act lists erosion, falling debris, inundation, and other such events as a Natural Hazard. However, case law has established that a building consent authority must undertake an appropriate assessment to determine if those events are in fact a natural hazard. In our experience, it can be commonplace for what could be perceived as a “black mark” to be added to property titles unnecessarily, or for consents to be granted without the knowledge that Building Code compliance may be affected in a natural hazard event.
Natural hazard provisions do not apply when appropriate protective measures are put in place. For instance, if a building is designed to withstand significant flooding and protective measures are implemented for the land connected to the building work and surrounding property, the natural hazard provisions may not apply.
“1 in 100-year” events
Experts may refer to an event being 1 in 100 or 1 in 500-year event. What this means is that a 100-year event has a 1% probability of occurring in any given year. However, probability is best compared to rolling a dice – just because you’ve rolled three 6’s in a row it doesn’t change the likelihood of getting a 6 on the next roll.
We recommend that to avoid unnecessary information requests during the consent process, always gain expert advice before engaging with council approvals and structure reports specific to your application. If you need further advice, contact Farsight to help you better understand the Natural Hazards impact on your Building Approval.
Disclaimer: This publication is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for legal or other professional advice. Please seek specific professional advice before acting in relation to anystatement contained in this publication.