Acceptance and management of professional (expert) opinions

It may be appropriate to engage a suitably qualified and experienced professional or expert to assist in preparing your building consent application.

Experts can help by providing evidence which support your application in demonstrating compliance with the building code.

Supporting evidence may take many forms including:

  • Tests to verification methods or other standards
  • Appraisals of products or systems
  • Reports, including calculations and modelling
  • Peer reviews
  • Comparison with similar products and systems
  • Comparison with generic products and systems that are compliant with acceptable solutions
  • Producer statements and other forms of certificate (IQP/LBP certificates for example)
  • Case studies, of products and systems in use

Professional opinions can assist in demonstrating compliance with the building code on reasonable grounds. They are also used in the assessment of alternative solutions.

When processing your building consent the Council will need to determine if:

  • the source or author of the professional opinion is expert (competent) and independent; 
  • the basis for the opinion is acceptable

Competence and independence of the author

The Council does not maintain a list of approved professionals/ experts. 

Competence - which is a mixture of qualification and relevant experience is established by:

  • The Council's knowledge of the practitioners ability where they work locally
  • Where not known to the Council, obtaining appropriate records to establish their competency and independence
  • Chartered Professional Engineers, Registered Architects, Registered Building Surveyors and the like while qualified and assessed to be competent by their peers still require some assessment by the Council to ensure that the scope of their expertise is appropriate to the opinion that they have provided
  • Documentation (opinions) from accredited organisations can be relied upon to establish reasonable grounds. However they should identify their scope and limitations, and clearly identify their means of compliance.
  • Other providers that may be appropriate experts within their sphere of experience include members of New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, and Royal Institute of Chartered Building Surveyors, and the like. As with Engineers and Architects some assessment by the Council to ensure that the scope of their expertise is appropriate to the opinion that they have provided is required.
  • Other individuals may be able to provide professional or expert opinion depending upon their individual competence, the nature of the opinion being given, the complexity of the proposal and the elvel of risk. Their acceptance is at the discretion of the Council. It is recommended that their suitability is agreed with the Council prior to their engagement.

Independence - the author must be independent from:

  • the manufacturer or supplier of the product or system
  • financial interest in the property that is the subject of the opinion. Generally the author must not be linked financially, other than payment for the opinion, unless there is independent audit of their work.

If in the Council's view the author is not suitably competent or independent. The Council will go back to the applicant, or agent, and seek information from another source.

Is the opinion reasonable?

This needs to be determined by the processing officer and will include factors such as:

  • Identifying the basis on which the opinion has been formed including data, literature, research, comparison with other products etc.
  • Verifying that a site inspection has taken place where appropriate
  • Identification and justification of any assumptions on which the opinion is based
  • Validation of data used and it's applicability to the specific proposal
  • Verifying the applicability of the opinion, checking products are comparable and testes are appropriate for the New Zealand environment etc.
  • Consideration of central government guidance
  • Compliance with relevant standards

If in the Council's view the opinion is not considered reasonable, further information will be requested from the applicant, agent or author of the expert/ professional opinion as appropriate.