What is a Building Warrant of Fitness (WOF) and do I need one?


Building Warrant of FitnessWalking around any New Zealand city, you would likely have seen stickers in the windows of buildings rating their safety in the case of an earthquake. But what of other risks to public safety?
Did you know that all buildings in New Zealand are required to complete a Building Warrant of Fitness annually?

How safe is your building?

It is vital to ensure that your building is in the best possible condition at all times. A building Warrant of Fitness (bWoF) certifies that your building meets all of your public safety obligations.
This post outlines what you need to know to complete one.
Let’s get started.

What is a bWOF?

Before we look at why you may need a bWoF for your building, it is perhaps best to first explain what a bWoF actually is.
A building warrant of fitness, (bWOF) is an endorsement which is issued by councils to owners of commercial and industrial buildings. It is subject to certain conditions being met and certifies that a building owner has met all of their public safety obligation.

How it works

When commercial and industrial buildings are built, they are issued with a schedule of compliance, which identifies all of the active “specified systems” in a building which will require regular inspection and maintenance.
The compliance schedule includes a detailed description of the buildings systems, as well as the performance standards for each system. The inspection and maintenance procedures required are also clearly outlined to ensure that the specified systems continue to function as intended when built and in a safe manner for those who work in and visit the building.

Why is it required?

The purpose of a building warrant of fitness is to ensure that commercial and industrial buildings remain safe and functional places for the public and the employees of the business to occupy.
The reason that the Building Act 2004 requires that each building owner renews the building warrant of fitness each year, is to ensure that active “specific systems” are adequately maintained, so they will not fail if they are required to be deployed.
Examples of specific systems include but are not limited to:

  • Sprinklers
  • Elevators
  • Escalators
  • Mechanical ventilation or air-conditioning systems
  • Automatic doors that close on alarm
  • Emergency warning and fire alarms, and
  • Emergency lights

All of these systems, which are predominantly installed for the protection of people, require regular maintenance and inspection, to ensure that they remain compliant with the performance standards identified in the compliance schedule.
Much like a WoF for a car, regular inspections ensure the effectiveness of these systems over time.
Imagine how useless these systems could become if appropriate regulatory and inspection mechanisms were not put in place. It is a vital obligation of building owners to ensure that the correct inspection, maintenance, and reporting procedures have been followed, and not just once!
A building owner is required to renew a buildings warrant of fitness each year, and is also required to publicly display it.
It is the building owner, not the tenant, who is responsible for renewing the building warrant of fitness, and for publicly displaying it.

It’s about public safety

The purpose of introducing compliance regulations in respect of obtaining a building warrant of fitness is to compel building owners to regularly inspect and maintain the specified systems in a building. Why? To ensure the public can hold a high degree of confidence in their safety when they enter an industrial or commercial building.
Don’t leave it to chance. Ensure your bWoF is completed annually and that all of your compliance records are up to date. It may be your tenant’s responsibility to get people into your building with the goods and services they offer. But if it is your responsibility as a business owner to guarantee their safety while doing so.

June 12, 2019 |

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