Is your building protected?
When you choose your Building Warrant of Fitness provider, you need to know that they really know what they’re doing. How can you be sure that the BWoF company you’ve chosen will fit the bill for your business safety needs? How can you be sure that they won’t cut corners, that they won’t lose your records, or that they even have the qualifications necessary to inspect your building? Yes, choosing the right Building Warrant of Fitness provider is just as important as choosing the right premises: so here are some FAQs on BWoFs, and what to look out for when you’re selecting your BWoF partner!
What IS a BWoF – and can I get one myself?
The short answer is no, you cannot simply inspect your own building. A BWoF requires that an IQP undertakes the inspection of your premises – that is, an Independent Qualified Person. An IQP is someone who is recognised by your local council as being sufficiently qualified to test, inspect and maintain specified systems within a building, to ensure they meet compliance. The ‘Independent’ refers to the fact that your IQP must have no financial interest in the building they are inspecting. This is why you would be unable to complete your own building’s BWoF; even if you were an IQP yourself.
What happens in a BWoF?
To paraphrase the NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment:
- ‘A building owner needs to supply the relevant council with a BWoF that includes:
- location of the particular building
- current lawfully established use, including number of occupants per level and per use (if more than one)
- owner of the building
- original date the building was constructed
- highest fire risk category for building use (if applicable).
- The BWoF must state that you have fully complied with the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures of the compliance schedule for the previous 12 months. This information must be supplied on prescribed Form 12 of the Building (Forms) Regulations 2004. The form states the specific information that must be included and the order it needs to be included in.
- The BWoF must be accompanied by a copy of each certificate issued by the IQP(s), called a Form 12A, that collectively covers all of the specified systems, along with any recommendations for amending the compliance schedule.
- The council will review the BWoF and Form 12As you provide to ensure they comply with the Building Act and Regulations. They may also initiate an amendment to the compliance schedule.
The council will keep the BWoF and related documents on record for the life of the building.’ Read more…
Your contracted BWoF company will manage all of the sticky stuff, to ensure that your building meets compliance: because if it doesn’t, your situation could become very grim indeed.
What happens if I don’t get a BWoF?
You are required by law to renew your BWoF every 12 months. Your BWoF certificate needs to be displayed prominently where it can be seen by all building users – somewhere like the lobby, the entry foyer, or the reception is usually a good choice. If your BWoF lapses, or if you simply don’t have one, then the fines can be significant: up to $200,000 per infraction.
It’s not just about displaying the certificate however, as you’ll also be required to keep significant records of any inspection, test or preventative maintenance carried out, and details of any faults found and repair work undertaken. In fact, you’ll need to produce dates and names of those who made repairs for up to 2 years after the fault was worked on. This is why many businesses choose to use a professional BWoF company: your pertinent records will be maintained to ensure you meet all regulations, leaving you to focus on running your business!
Choosing the right BWoF provider
When choosing your Building Warrant of Fitness provider, we recommend you ask the following questions:
- Who is your IQP, and what is his/her role in your business?
If the IQP is contracted in, that could equate to another cost for you. Ideally, you are looking for a BWoF company with their own dedicated IQP.
- Can I nominate my own contractors for faults found?
If you have a long-standing relationship with certain contractors, then you’ll want to know if you will be able to bring them in for any work that needs to be done. Some BWoF companies will not allow clients to use their own contractors, as they may have fixed lines of supply. We recommend that you ask this question before signing any contracts!
- Is your IQP on the council register?
In fact, this is something you can easily check for yourself – not only will this register give you a list of registered IQPs, it will also tell you how many systems they are approved for. Check on your local council’s website for a list of registered IQPs in your area.
- How long have you been operating, and who are some of your other clients?
This is the kind of question many companies won’t welcome, as it could expose either a lack of experience, or a lack of goodwill from other businesses. It never hurts to do a background check! Any BWoF company who won’t give you references isn’t worth your time.
For more information about your Building Warrant of Fitness needs, or for a free in-house consultation with one of our friendly, experienced and qualified IQPs, please contact Fireco today!