The New Zealand Building Code (NZBC) dictates construction requirements to comply with the building code. If you are taking over an existing space and only want to make minor changes, you may be able to get away with an exemption from consent instead of a building consent. Check with your local council if you’re unsure.
There are a number of key elements that generally need to be covered off in order for your fit out to comply with the NZBC.
Every building consent application requires a fire report. A fire engineer will review your proposed plans and produce a report that dictates amongst other things: the type of fire alarm system needed, number of occupants allowed (based on size and availability of egress routes), locations of emergency exit signage, requirements for fire rating of walls, ceilings, penetrations and doors and other fire elements. These requirements vary for every site depending on the type of use, number of occupants, whether the building is stand alone or shared, purely commercial or commercial + residential and many other factors. It's crucial that your architect/designer/draftsperson understand the fire report and communicate it's requirements on the plans, and that your contractors construct what is approved in your building consent. The requirements for fire protection are covered in Acceptable Solutions C1-C6 Protection from Fire.
These sections cover the ability to get in and out of buildings, including people that have higher accessibility needs (i.e. those in wheelchairs, injured, older people). Key dimensions include a 1200mm wide clear path from accessible car parking, through a minimum 760mm clear wide entry to the counter/reception, and through to the bathroom and workspaces. Also the need to have an accessible counter at a defined height so that counters are not impractical for wheelchair users. The key objective of these requirements is to make buildings accessible to as many of the population as possible. Other elements dictated include stairway and handrail dimensions, ramp angles, ceiling clearances and many others. Requirements can be viewed in Acceptable Solution D1/AS1.
HEALTH & HYGIENE
These elements include the need to have hand wash basins in commercial kitchens, the minimum dimensions of W/C's, the quantity and type of W/C's required (unisex, male, female, accessible), the specification of light coloured, easily cleanable, impervious surfaces in food preparation areas and other health and hygiene related directives. These can be viewed in Acceptable Solution's G1/AS1 and G3/AS1.
Other sections that may dictate your requirements depending on the size and scope of your fit-out could include Structural, Internal Moisture, External Moisture, Ventilation etc. Your various consultants will bring together this knowledge and provide you with design details to ensure compliance with the building code. For an overview of the various Acceptable Solutions, that provide solutions to comply with the building code, follow this link.