The Role Of A BWOF In Building Compliance: What You Need To Know

If you own or manage a building in New Zealand, you’re likely familiar with the term BWOF, which stands for ‘building warrant of fitness.’ Understanding the role of a building warrant of fitness in building compliance is crucial for property owners and managers to ensure the safety, functionality and legal compliance of their structures.

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So, what is a building warrant of fitness, why is it important and what can you do to secure one for your own New Zealand building? Read on to learn the answers to your questions and where you can call in case you require further assistance.

What Is A Building Warrant Of Fitness?

A building warrant of fitness is a document issued confirming the specified systems stated in the compliance schedule for their building have been maintained and checked for the previous 12 months, in accordance with the details of that compliance schedule. Essentially, it serves as evidence that your building is safe, sanitary and in good condition for all of its occupants.

The BWOF covers crucial aspects such as fire safety systems, structural integrity and essential amenities. It shows that all of your specified systems have been properly maintained over the past year and that you’ve followed your compliance schedule.

This document is one that needs to be renewed annually, so you’ll need to have it renewed every year to prove that your structure is consistently maintained.

The Importance Of Building Warrants Of Fitness

Naturally, this is a very important document for quite a few reasons:

Legal Compliance. One of the primary reasons to obtain a building warrant of fitness is to fulfil legal obligations. The Building Act requires building owners to ensure their properties meet specific standards outlined in the building code. This ensures New Zealand buildings are safe and fit to be worked and lived in. Without adherence to this code, structures could be unsafe, and people could get hurt.

Failing to obtain or display a current BWOF can result in legal consequences and fines.

Occupant Safety. The safety of the people in your building should always be one of your top priorities. The building warrant of fitness process ensures that a building’s essential systems, such as fire alarms, sprinklers and emergency exits, are regularly inspected and maintained. This contributes to a much safer environment for residents, employees and guests.

Accidents happen when you least expect them, so it’s essential to prepare for any kind of potential problem before they happen - even if your building has never had a single hazardous incident. For example, proper fire compliance can help you keep everyone safe in case of an outbreak of fire.

Property Value. Having a current building warrant of fitness can positively impact the value of your property. Prospective tenants or buyers often consider a building’s compliance with safety standards as a critical factor. It demonstrates a genuine commitment to maintaining a secure and well-maintained space, and will help people feel safer and have more confidence in your management skills.

Steps To Obtain A BWOF

Because it’s such an important document, it’s crucial for all building owners who require it to understand how to get it. You should keep in mind that this process isn’t instantaneous, so you should plan ahead so that you receive your up-to-date building warrant of fitness before your previous one expires. This can help you avoid any penalties related to displaying an expired document.

Fortunately, the process to obtain your own building warrant of fitness is straightforward:

Engage A Compliance Professional. The best way to ensure your process goes well is to work with a professional who understands what they’re doing. They’ll help you get everything in order and fix any potential problems.

Building owners need to engage a compliance professional, often a registered Independent Qualified Person (IQP), to carry out inspections and assessments. IQPs are experts in specific building systems and are authorised to assess their compliance.

They can conduct a building inspection to make sure your building’s maintenance aligns with your compliance schedule, showing that your structure has been maintained well over the past year.

Submit The Right Forms. After each inspection, the IQP submits a Form 12A, providing details of the inspection and the building’s compliance status. This form is crucial for maintaining an accurate record of the building’s compliance history.

When you have all of the right information, the BWOF can be issued to the territorial authority. This can be done online.

Receive Your New BWOF. Upon satisfactory inspections and submission of your required documentation, your local council will issue your building warrant of fitness. The document should then be displayed prominently in a public area of your building, signalling to occupants and authorities that the property meets the necessary compliance standards.

Where To Find Qualified Professionals To Help You With Building Compliance

If you’d like to make sure your building is structurally sound, we at Compliance Consultants are here to help. Our services include assistance with building warrants of fitness, building compliance, fire compliance and more.

For more information, please feel free to call us on 0800 325 435.

With Compliance Consultants, you can make sure your building is completely up to code.