Which commercial buildings are mandated to have a Building Warrant of Fitness?

18 Apr, 2024 |

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As a commercial building owner or manager in New Zealand, it's essential to understand the concept of a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) and whether your property requires one. The Building Act 2004 mandates that certain buildings must have a valid BWOF to ensure the safety and well-being of occupants. We'll explain a BWOF and help you determine if your building needs one.

What is a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF)?

A Building Warrant of Fitness is an annual document verifying that the required building systems have been properly maintained and checked according to the stipulated plan. Specified systems are critical safety and essential systems within a building, such as fire safety systems, lifts, emergency lighting, and air conditioning systems. The building’s owner or manager grants the Building Warrant of Fitness and should be clearly displayed within the building’s premises.

Does Your Building Require a BWOF?

To determine if your building requires a BWOF, consider the following factors:

  1. Presence of specified systems: If your commercial building contains specified systems, such as those mentioned above, you will likely need a BWOF.
  2. Examine if your building has a compliance schedule, which outlines the necessary systems and their maintenance and inspection specifications. If your building has a compliance schedule, it must have a BWOF.
  3. Change of use: If you have recently changed the use of your commercial building and the new use requires a compliance schedule, you will need to obtain a BWOF.


Some buildings may be exempt from requiring a BWOF, such as: –

Single residential dwellings –

Outbuildings (e.g., sheds, garages) –

Simple, low-risk buildings with no specified systems

Importance of BWOF Compliance:

Importance of BWOF Compliance:  

Maintaining a valid BWOF is crucial for building owners and managers. It demonstrates that the specified systems have been regularly inspected, and maintained, and are in proper working order. A current Building Warrant of Fitness confirms the occupants that the required safety measures are functioning and in place. In the event of an emergency, properly maintained specified systems can save lives and minimize property damage. Neglecting to acquire or renew a Building Warrant of Fitness may lead to penalties and legal repercussions. As a building owner or manager, ensuring compliance with these regulations is your responsibility.

Issues with your Building warrant of Fitness?

Understanding what a Building Warrant of Fitness is and whether your commercial building requires one is essential for ensuring the safety of occupants and maintaining compliance with the Building Act 2004. If your building contains specified systems, has a compliance schedule, or has undergone a change of use, it is likely that you will need a BWOF. Consistent maintenance and inspections by certified professionals are crucial to keep the necessary systems in good shape and maintaining a valid Building Warrant of Fitness.

If you have any questions or issues about compliance with your building’s BWOF, consult with our architectural and fire engineering experts at THE DESIGNFIRE. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of building regulations and ensure the safety of your commercial property.

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