National Competency Assessment System for Building Consent Authorities

Issue 24 – February 2011

The new National Competency Assessment System for Building Consent Authorities (BCAs) is a response to the government's goal to achieve greater national consistency, standardisation, and efficiencies in administering the Building Act, Building Code, and Regulations.

To some degree, this new assessment system moves away from building types or categories to competency levels, eliminating a growing list of building types and instead focuses on competencies required to undertake the work.

The benefits

Over time, DBH expects to see more consistent, efficient, and better quality decision-making by building officials. BCAs will be able to better manage their risk by having objective competency standards for their staff, and staff will be able recognise the limits of their competence and work within these.

The new national system also establishes performance indicators and guidance for assessors for each core competency required by Regulation 10 of the Accreditation Regulations, resulting in national consistency and standardisation between building officials and BCAs.

The system shifts some of the responsibility for gathering evidence of competency to the individuals being assessed – building officials and inspectors – making assessment more collaborative.

Transitioning to the new system

The new system does not require BCAs to redo all of their existing competency assessments. It has been designed so that BCAs can map their existing building categories against the new national levels. This can be achieved by considering the building types in the existing building categorisation system against the competency level descriptions in the new system. Most BCAs should then be able to move staff with existing competencies across to the new system after considering how well their competencies match the new national standards. Assessment tools have been developed to assist with transition and ongoing assessment.

How does it work with BCA accreditation?

The system has been designed to meet the requirements of the current Accreditation Regulations. International Accreditation New Zealand has also been involved as part of a sector advisory group overseeing this work to help ensure it meets accreditation requirements.

When will the new system be available to BCAs?

DBH has been rolling out intensive 2-day training workshops around New Zealand for BCA competency assessors, teaching the new system, competency assessment skills, and techniques.

For more information visit the DBH website, National BCA competency assessment system (www.dbh.govt.nz/bca-competency-assessment-system-update).

Summarised from Codewords November/December 2010, Department of Building and Housing.

Published in building.