Supervision is an important part of the LBP scheme, to ensure that riskier work is overseen by those with the right skills. By law, licensed building practitioners (LBPs) must supervise restricted building work (RBW) that is caried out by non-licensed people.

When supervising RBW, the LBP must ensure the work is up to the required standard, that checks on the work are undertaken appropriately, and that the LBP completes and provides a record of work (RoW) to the owner and the council once that work is completed.

Supervision practice note [PDF, 1.6 MB]

About supervision 

When you are supervising non-licensed practitioners carrying out work, you are responsible for making sure that the work is done to the required standard and that it meets the relevant building consent. It involves providing control, or direction and oversight to those you are supervising.

It is important that you think about the practical and legal sides of supervision before you begin supervising. Different skills are needed to supervise than to carry out work.

Supervision means that:

  • unlicensed workers can upskill and develop on the job; and
  • the construction industry continues to operate with enough practitioners doing the work itself.

Supervision of RBW 

RBW is work that makes a house structurally sound and weathertight. It applies to design, construction or alteration work in residential homes when the work needs a building consent. It also applies to fire safety design in small to medium sized apartment buildings.

You can only supervise RBW that you are licensed to carry out yourself. For example, if you have a carpentry licence, you:

  • can supervise unlicensed practitioners and non-LBP carpentry practitioners doing carpentry RBW, but
  • you cannot supervise any person doing blocklaying RBW.

You also cannot supervise another LBP carrying out work in the same licence class as you. This is because LBPs are legally allowed to carry out RBW and are accountable for the work they do.

Work LBPs can supervise for each licence class:

Class or area of practice

Scope of supervision

Carpentry, Foundations, External Plastering, Bricklaying and Blocklaying, Roofing

All building work, including RBW, which is within their licence class and competence.

Design areas of practice 1-3

All design work, including RBW, which is within their competence.

Site areas of practice 1-3

Site practitioner cannot supervise any RBW. Depending on the Area of Practice they hold, they can provide coordination, oversight or management. The Site LBP cannot provide a RoW.

*Deemed LBPs 

Chartered Professional Engineers

All design work, including all design RBW. Work as for ‘site areas of practice 1-3’ above.


All design work, including all design RBW.

Plumbers, gasfitters

These deemed LBPs can supervise roofing, external plastering, and brick and block laying for the purposes of penetrating a building’s external envelope when undertaking plumbing and gasfitting work (eg installing a vent pipe)

*Deemed LBPs are those who are registered, licensed or otherwise recognised under enactments other than the Building Act.

Read more about RBW

What good supervision looks like 

The level of supervision required depends on the type of RBW being carried out and the skill level of those carrying out the work.

You must determine how much supervision is required for the RBW being carried out. Use the information in the points below to help you work out the right mix of control or direction and oversight you need to provide:

The type and complexity of the RBW to be supervised

  • Consider whether the building work is complex, bespoke/architectural, midrange, or simple.
  • Are there particularly risky details that require a higher degree of oversight and instruction to construct correctly? For example, complex roof intersections or flashing details.
  • Are there any specific building consent conditions that mean a greater degree of complexity, or is there a greater risk of non-compliance present on site? For example, elements of specific engineered design requiring third-party oversight and verification.
  • Remember, the required level of supervision can change as tasks change. If the supervised person completes one task and moves on to another, the level and type of supervision must be reassessed.

The experience of the person(s) being supervised

How would you classify those being supervised: skilled, semi-skilled, low skilled? Semi-skilled and low skilled usually require more ‘direct supervision’ than the higher skilled or experienced workers.

The supervisor’s experience in working with the person being supervised and their confidence in their abilities

  • Have you worked with this person in the past? If so, do you have a good understanding of their skills and any relevant limitations?
  • ‘Repeatability’ is important. Where you have observed someone competently undertaking a task in the past, it is more likely they will be able to do it again.
  • Has their work been the cause of failed inspections in the past? If so, the level of supervision you provide may need to be reassessed.

The geographic spread of the work being supervised

  • When supervising, the physical separation of work sites is a limitation that requires careful thought and planning. Remote supervision is an option in certain circumstances, but actual time on site is essential to ensure quality and compliance is achieved.
  • There is no legal maximum number of sites that can be supervised by one LBP, but you should always make sure you are supervising within your capacity.


  • Good supervision includes anticipating problems before they happen. Take account of supervision requirements in your work programme and plan resourcing accordingly.


  • Be cautious of accelerated work programs that could lead to unforeseen issues or rework, which could alter supervision requirements.

A booming construction market

  • A booming construction market can lead to unfamiliar faces on site and increase the use of contract or unskilled labour. This can affect the expertise of the team.

Workplace environment

  • Conditions in the workplace affect the level of supervision required on any given day. It is important to consider things such as weather, safety, (eg working at height) and plant and tool use. It is also equally important to be aware of the supervision requirements under health and safety legislation.


  • Where literacy or language barriers exist the supervisor needs to consider how this might impact achieving good quality and compliant outcomes onsite.

Types of supervision

Direct supervision 

This is working one-on-one with the person you are supervising. It requires direct contact with this person while they are completing the work. This means you have visual contact and/or are within earshot of those you are supervising.

Direct supervision should be used when:

  • the person being supervised has not shown a consistent ability to perform a task to the required standard
  • the person being supervised is new to a task or is untrained in that task
  • the work is complex or contains variations to tasks. Work might include complex design, which requires regularly checking the working drawings and specifications
  • there is a reasonable chance that unplanned events will happen that may be beyond the person’s current ability.

For example, a first-year carpentry apprentice, Sarah, is installing timber weatherboards to a dwelling’s exterior for the first time. Her supervisor, Derek, should adopt a direct supervision approach as the initial set-out and overall task would be considered complex for Sarah’s experience level.

General supervision 

This is the most common form of supervision. It requires face-to-face contact on a regular or periodic basis.

The supervisor must provide control or direction and oversight of tasks and able to be contacted for assistance or instruction when required.

General supervision should be used when:

  • the person being supervised has previously shown that they can carry out a task with limited oversight and direction.
  • the person being supervised knows and has shown they will seek clarity or assistance when it is needed.
  • on-the-job training has been carried out in the past, which has met requirements.

For example, an unlicensed skilled co-worker, Akshay, is installing a section of long-run metal roofing. The supervising LBP, James, is on site, but is working across three different sections of the roof. James is utilising a general level of supervision because he has assessed the complexity of the work and knows the skills of Akshay and the other individuals doing the work. James will periodically check and assist with the work as it proceeds and provide advice to Akshay where required.

Remote supervision

Remote supervision may be used where an LBP is running 2 or more jobs and cannot be always present on site.

Remote supervision may be appropriate where the following conditions are present:

  • those being supervised are unlicensed skilled workers that have shown they can carry out certain tasks without constant monitoring, oversight and direction
  • the supervising LBP has identified specific tasks when he or she is needed on site to provide direction or oversight
  • lines of communication (phone or using other electronic media) are in place so that advice and assistance can be offered when and where required.

For example, an LBP, Aleki, has three projects of differing complexity on the go at the same time, one of which is a simple renovation that includes a small amount of RBW. The workers on that site are well known to Aleki and are highly skilled. Aleki has adopted a remote supervision approach and touches base with co-workers by phone or in person on a daily basis, and visits the site as and when necessary, and at specific pre-arranged milestones.

Design supervision 

Design supervision is similar in practice to the other types of supervision already mentioned.

Design supervision is potentially needed until the end of the project i.e. it continues after a Certificate of Design Work (CoW) is provided to the Council. For example, after receiving the CoW, the Council puts in a request for information (RFI). It is the supervising designer who would receive this as the supervising function is still occurring.  

If changes or minor variations to the building consent are asked for during the construction phase of the project, then the supervising designer must continue to provide the appropriate level of supervision.

Types of design supervision: 

Direct or general design supervision 

For example, a design LBP supervising a new graduate undertaking design RBW in the same design office.

Remote design supervision 

For example, a competent but unlicensed designer requires an LBP to supervise their work and provide a CoW for a building consent application. The designer does not work in the same office as their supervisor but is a skilled technician and well known to the supervisor. 

Supervision in this instance is provided primarily by phone and email and by reviewing designs as they are developed.

Quality assurance 

For example, a newly-licensed designer has a set of drawings reviewed by a colleague to check that it is correct before submitting the plans with their own CoW. 

This is not supervision of restricted building work as the newly-licensed designer holds a licence.

As a Design LBP, you should be aware of the following: 

  • ensure the level of supervision you are providing is appropriate for the work being carried out
  • when completing a CoW, you must be sure that all RBW will meet the Building Code
  • you may choose to use different types of supervision eg direct, general or remote, but the level of supervision provided should be fit for the work being carried out
  • Building Consent Authority requests for information will be directed to the license holder. Therefore, you may be held to account for substandard design work that you have supervised. The Building Consent Authority (BCA) should not be used as quality control for the work you have supervised. The BCAs role is to ensure the consented work will meet Building Code requirements.

Records and certificates of work

Certificate of Design Work (CoW) – Design phase 

A CoW is required as part of a building consent application for a project that includes RBW.

A building consent can be applied for by the person engaging the LBP eg a homeowner, or by someone on their behalf, eg the LBP designer. The designer will need to provide their CoW to the person making the building consent application if they are not doing it themselves.

The building consent application needs to include the names of the LBPs who will carry out, or supervise, the RBW.

CoW template [PDF, 419 KB]

Record of work (RoW) – Construction phase 

If you are carrying out or supervising RBW during construction, you must provide a RoW to the owner and the Council as soon as possible after the work is finished. If you do not, you may face disciplinary action, such as a fine.

The RoW must be on a certain form, and it must say what RBW was carried out or supervised by the LBP.

A RoW is needed for the final inspection by the BCA at the end of the construction project.

RoW template [PDF, 376 KB]

Code of ethics 

When supervising, you must always meet the requirements of the LBP code of ethics. The code of ethics applies whether you are employed, are the employer or are a contractor.

The code of ethics is made up of 19 standards which sit under the following 4 key principles:

  1. Working safely
  2. Acting within the law
  3. Taking responsibility for your actions
  4. Behaving professionally.

Read more about the code of ethics

You can read more about supervising non-licensed practitioners carrying out RBW in the supervision practice note. This includes examples of situations where poor supervision has taken place and information on site licences.   

Supervision practice note [PDF, 1.6 MB]