Twelve month blitz sees TAs undertake accreditation

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In the space of a year, all 79 applicants for building consent authority accreditation have gone through a full International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) assessment to meet the requirements of the Building (Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2006.

This is the first time that such a large number of organisations have completed the IANZ assessment process in less than 12 months.
IANZ chief executive Llew Richards says a dedicated team of seven IANZ assessors has worked non-stop since May last year to complete this project and so ensured that building consent authorities throughout the country are capable of meeting the required 12 standards and criteria contained in the Regulations.

By 31 May this year, 63 applicants were accredited, or will be working through their final clearances to this first stage of the accreditation process for the Department of Building and Housing.

The remaining two standards are required to be met in two further stages before 1 December 2010 and 1 December 2013 respectively.
Considerable consultation with the applicants early in the process was necessary to ensure they understood the standards and requirements in addition to the accreditation process.

Dr Richards says understanding accreditation is not easy for a new sector.
“It is not just about complying with new requirements. It is also a matter of ensuring that new processes are fully implemented and working effectively. This requires ongoing commitment and resources from each building consent authority to ensure they continually meet the accreditation requirements,” Dr Richards says.

Challenging but rewarding

For many applicants it was a challenging but rewarding experience. North Shore City Council environmental services general manager Alison Geddes says the accreditation was very beneficial in that it has introduced more structure and discipline into their building control activities.
“The IANZ audit has given councillors and customers confidence that the council is operating to a high standard, and now has independently proven and appropriate competency systems.”

The consensus among Taupo District Council staff is that a much better product is being produced consistently.
According to building and regulatory services manager Jamie Dale, the process has achieved the intended outcomes.
“Staff have more ownership and better understanding of the consenting process, and are better able to explain it to our customers. We have a much more professional approach, which is proving popular with designers and builders, who are providing positive feedback.”

IANZ is the national authority for accrediting testing and calibration laboratories, radiology services and inspection bodies.
IANZ Accreditation is the means by which the integrity and technical competence of organisations are formally recognised.

From 31 March 2009, only registered building consent authorities may perform consenting and inspection functions in terms of the Building Act 2004.
The Act provides for territorial authorities and private organisations to apply for registration.

The criteria and standards an applicant must meet to be accredited as a building consent authority are set out in the Building (Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2006, and administered by the Department of Building and Housing.