Proposed changes to building rules

Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) houses Building Control and administers the Building Controls and Standards Act 1991, regulations and the Building Code 2019.

In 2019 ICI was granted Cabinet approval to write a new Building Bill to bring building legislation and regulation into the 21st century to reflect the changing climate and technological progress. In 2023, a few more necessary changes were realised. “In order to include new proposed changes, ICI has to seek approval from Cabinet to include these in the final submission of the new building legislative documents” says Infrastructure Cook Islands Secretary Elizabeth Wright-Koteka.

The proposed changes to the Building Code are to have a set minimum width for the front of commercial and public premises, onsite rainwater capture, reference to a vehicle crossing standard, flexibility to the existing parking rule when there is ample public parking, worker housing and a height in relation to boundary provision. Commercial and public building permit applications will be required to include the façade design.  

“These updates to the Building Code do not account for the existing built environment. They would only apply to new builds, so the solution to this is to enable government to require buildings and surroundings to come into compliance with specific new rules, depending on changes in the climate and social needs, all within a reasonable timeframe” adds Wright-Koteka.

A first target area for compliance is in Avarua town along the Ara Tapu. “ICI called a meeting with business and landowners in Avarua town to present the proposed changes to the Building Code, the regulation and to get feedback from the attendees. We received helpful feedback from the meeting and are reflecting these in the submission to Cabinet” says Wright-Koteka.

ICI aims to have all the new rules prepared before June 2024 ready for Parliament sitting.

According to Wright-Koteka, the proposed changes are required because we need to respond to the changing climate, environmental degradation, damage to homes and public infrastructure and to improve safety and comfort of people, including those with a disability.

“Our National Sustainable Development Agenda 2020+ puts wellbeing at the forefront of how we develop and there are a raft of policies that say what we should be doing, so through this and other work in the public infrastructure arena, we are trying to work towards achieving the NSDA and other national policy objectives” adds Koteka-Wright

If you would like to read up on the proposed changes you download the issues paper here.