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A determination is a binding decision made by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
It provides a way of solving disputers or questions about the rules that apply to buildings, how buildings are used, building accessibility, health and safety.

Most determinations are needed because the person applying for the determination disagrees with the council about decisions the council has made about works it considers non-compliant with the building code.
However, a determination can be applied for by the council itself or a neighbour who is affected by building work.

A determination can be about building work that is planned, partly done or completed.
Those involved in a determination, including the person who applies for it, are called ‘parties’ to the determination.
For example a building owner may ask for a determination because they disagree with the Council's decision that also involves a neighbour.
In this case, the parties to the determination are the ‘building owner’, the ‘council’ and the ‘neighbour’. All parties to a determination are treated equally.

MBIE can initiate a determination where it believes it is necessary to achieve the aims of the Building Act
The council will always be a party to any determination. The Department may ask other people or organisations to become involved if necessary.
A determination will normally be about an earlier decision made by one of the parties (usually the Council).

The determination may:

  • confirm, reverse or modify an earlier decision made by the council. For example, a determination may say the council was correct in not issuing a building consent.
  • make waivers or modifications to the Building Code. For example, a determination may modify the time period for which the building must be durable
  • make conditions that the council may itself grant or impose. For example, a determination may require the council to issue a building consent with certain conditions.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment charges a fixed fee for determinations and should be checked online for the current fees:

  • For single houses, attached houses, flats and apartments up to four units, and garages and sheds
  • For all other buildings

A determination generally relies on the information you provide. Clear and complete documentation will help us assess and process your determination. The information should be:

  • clearly labelled (and indexed, if possible)
  • typed or neatly handwritten
  • accompanied by a summary of the key points with references to the supporting documents.

Information to support an application can include (not all of these will be available or relevant to your determination):

  • correspondence about the dispute
  • drawings
  • specifications
  • design calculations
  • reports
  • photographs

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