Deciding if a Structure Is a Building or a Boat

Have you considered whether the construction you are embarking on is considered building work under the Building Act?  With creative new ways to build a home, it may be a fine line as to whether the structure is considered a building falling under the Building Act or a boat!

In 2017, a Building Consent Authority (BCA) issued a ‘notice to fix’ on a structure that they identified did not have building consent. The BCA and owner of the structure disagreed over whether the structure was a building or if it was a boat under construction.

For a BCA to exercise a notice fix under the Building Act, a structure needs to be considered a building and work on said structure must be considered ‘building work’ under section 8 of the Building Act. If the structure was a boat under construction, the work on the structure would not fall under the Building Act.  


What determines if a structure was a boat that would be used in navigating waters or whether it was a building with nautical-style design features is:

  • If the structure was ‘capable’ of being used on water
  • If the structure moved reasonably frequently from anchorage or mooring


However, when the boat is under construction it will still have features and characteristics of a boat and cannot be used on water because it is under construction, so it shouldn’t fall as a ‘building’ structure. In this case, if features such as an open section of the hull, a door, and mid-hull windows are identifiable then they class as a building and must be removed if it was to be determined as a boat structure.

Whether a building or a boat, when using scaffolding for its construction, it is important to keep safe and compliant when working at heights. For more details, contact Easy Access at 0800 394 222.