Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long will it take to have my prequalification information assessed?

    PREQUAL will target the provision of a final assessment report within 20 working days of you submitting your prequalification material.

  • What are Clients, Contractors, Sub Contractors and Sole Traders?

    Different industry sectors can have slightly different meanings to these three groups. For the purposes of the PREQUAL prequalification process the following definitions are to be applied:



    You are a Client if you engage others to carry out work for you. A Client may also be a contractor or even sub contractor in some circumstances.



    You are a contractor if you are hired and paid by someone else (a Client) to carry out work for them. For PREQUAL prequalification purposes, contractor refers to organisations (including unincorporated partnerships) not individuals so the definition does not include sole traders engaging with a single Client on their own. Note in the HSE Act the Client is referred to as a Principal.

    Main or Controlling Contractor (Category 4) 

    You act as the main or controlling contractor and are employed directly by the client to control/manage the job. You take the entire project through from beginning to completion. You provide all the H&S management systems to be applied and everyone works under your H&S systems.

    Sub Contractor


    You are a sub contractor if you are engaged by a Contractor to help them complete work for a Client.  

    Sole Trader


    You are a Sole Trader if you do not employ staff or engage other contractors and you contract independently

  • Who oversees the PREQUAL process?

    PREQUAL has developed this prequalification process with input from a number of Client organisations. PREQUAL administers and manages the process but there is a Client Governance Group in place that continues to provide guidance to PREQUAL. 

  • What does the Client Governance Group do?

    The Client Governance Group is made up of representatives from key PREQUAL Clients. Representatives come from a mix of Health and Safety and Procurement roles. The Governance Group provides direction and advice to PREQUAL about the appropriateness of PREQUAL systems, processes and content. The following provides an illustration of what they are involved in:

    • Agreeing the appropriateness of questionnaire content and assessment protocol
    • Agreeing the adequacy of moderation and appeals processes
    • Agreeing the rules of the PREQUAL process e.g. number of prequalification attempts allowed; length of time for contractors to submit information; requalification timeframes; confidentiality of information protocols etc.
  • Is this a one size fits all process?

    The short answer is no.  One of the issues identified with prequalifications that have been applied by Clients or Industry organisations to date in New Zealand is that they ask for the same information and evidence from all Contractors. This is regardless of the differing types of work Contractors do and the size of the Contractor organisation.

    The PREQUAL process provides five categories of prequalification questionnaire reflecting the different size and complexity of Contractors.

  • What are the Contractor prequalification categories?

    PREQUAL has customised the prequalification questionnaires to reflect the size (and by default the relative complexity) of the Contractor.  This means there are five Contractor Prequalification Categories.  


    Contractor Type

    Contractor Activities

    Sole Trader

    Works Independently

    Does not employ staff or engage other contractors and contracts independently.

    Category 1

    Very Small contractor

    1 - 5 employees

    Engaged by higher-level contractors or directly by Client

    Do not engage subcontractors other than sole traders

    Operate under the Client's or high-level contractor's management system. 

    Category 2

    Small contractor

    6 - 15 employees

    Engaged by higher-level contractors or directly by Client

    Do not engage subcontractors other than sole traders

    Operate under the Client's or high-level contractor's management system. 

    Category 3


    16+ employees

    Engaged by main contractor or directly by client

    Usually operate under Client or main contractor's management systems. 16 + employees and/or manages subcontractors

    Category 4

    Main or controlling contractor

    You are a main or controlling contractor (category 4) if you are employed directly by the client (e.g. a property developer) to control/manage the entire job/project from beginning to completion of the project.

    You, rather than the client, provide all the health & safety management systems to be applied to the contracted work and sub-contractors e.g. Permit to Work systems, emergency management processes, incident reporting etc.

    All other contractors report to you and you set the requirements for what reporting is required by subcontractors, when, and how they report. You will usually present a summary of this information to the client as part of your reporting processes.

  • Who will be able to see my prequalification information?

    You control who is able to view your prequalification information.  You are able to select which Clients you wish to prequalify for and only they will be able to view your prequalification report.  You can remove Clients from being able to view your information at any time you choose.

  • How long does my prequalification last for?

    The Prequalification can be valid for up to two years; based on the assessment score that you achieve. Please see below a table indicating the prequalification requirement should your score fall into one of these categories outlined. Also, if your insurances, licences or certifications expire within the period, you will be required to submit new evidence of cover.


    Less than 30% - Requalify within 6 months

    30% to 59% - Requalify within 12 months

    60% or more - Requalify every 2 years


  • What will it cost me to prequalify?

    Prequalification costs vary for Contractor Categories.  The following outlines these costs.

    Contractor Category

    Base Price

    Sole Trader

    $125.00 + GST

    Category 1

    $495.00 + GST

    Category 2

    $625.00 + GST

    Category 3

    $1,100.00 + GST

    Category 4

    $1,850.00 + GST

  • Can I redo the prequalification more frequently than every two years?

    Yes, you are able to submit a new prequalification. The PREQUAL prequalification generally lasts for up to two years. However, depending on the requirements of your client(s), you may be asked to requalify more frequently based on the assessment score that you achieve. Also, if your insurances, licences or certifications expire within the period, you will be required to submit new evidence of cover. 

    Please note: Please contact us on Freephone 0800 773 782 should you wish to complete a new prequalification.

  • How long do I have to submit my prequalification information?

    Categories 1 - 4 have two months to submit their prequalification information from the time PREQUAL (not the Client) requests that you commence the prequalification process and Sole Traders will have one month.

  • What if I don't submit my prequalification information within the required two months?

    While PREQUAL will endeavour to turn prequalification assessments around within the normal target of four weeks, if a contractor does not provide their prequalification information within the required timeframe then PREQUAL cannot guarantee this.  This is because PREQUAL has a large volume of prequalifications to process, requiring tight planning and implementation.  By not meeting the required submission timeframes you can throw the assessment schedule out and it would be unfair to penalise other contractors who have submitted their information on time.

  • How is my Category 1 - 4 prequalification questionnaire scored?

    PREQUAL provides percentage scores for Categories 1 - 4 and commentary outlining where we think your prequalification information indicates you are at in terms of health and safety management.

    Each question in the Category 1 - 4  prequalification questionnaire is scored on a scale of zero (0) to four (4).  A score of zero indicates that there is no evidence meeting requirements while a score of four indicates requirements are being met at a best practice level.

    In addition each question is weighted on a scale of one (1) to five (5).  This is to allow some questions to hold greater importance than others.

  • How is my Sole Trader prequalification questionnaire scored?

    Each of the questions you are asked to answer will be scored from 1 to 3. This is purely to indicate whether your response showed good, average or limited understanding of the topic it was addressing. There is no overall score allocated to your prequalification.

  • Is there a pass or fail for this prequalification?

    PREQUAL does not provide a pass or fail mark. It is up to the individual Clients to determine how they will use this information.

    PREQUAL and Clients view this prequalification process as a key element in driving the improvement of the health and safety performance of their Contractors.

  • How is my score presented to me?

    Once your Category 1 - 4 prequalification has been assessed you will be provided a report that provides you an overall score, and breakdown of that score into key sections and subsections of the prequalification questionnaire. In addition we will provide comments on what you appear to be doing well and areas for improvement. These will also be provided at a Section and Subsection level.

    We will also provide you with an indication of where you sit in relation to your peers so you can view your performance in that context.

    Sole Trader prequalification information and individual question scores, as described above, will be provided to you in a report accessible through your PREQUAL account.

  • Who assesses my prequalification questionnaire?

    PREQUAL Assessors will carry out the assessment of your prequalification information.  The PREQUAL process is overseen by senior health and safety professionals with significant experience in contractor management. 

    All PREQUAL assessors are experienced health and safety practitioners, rigorously trained in the assessment tools and protocols.  A continuous professional development programme is also in place to ensure all assessors stay abreast with current thinking in health and safety management.

  • Do I have an opportunity to resubmit evidence if I don't score well?

    Contractors in Category 1 - 4: You will have one opportunity to resubmit evidence after submitting your initial prequalification information.   This is only for those questions where you have scored a 0 or 1.  The only exception to this is if a Contractor has answered "No" to a question.  In that case they will score a 0 but will not be allowed to resubmit evidence.

  • How long do I have to resubmit evidence after initial assessment?

    You have seven (7) working days to resubmit evidence as identified by your PREQUAL assessor. If you do not do so within this timeframe, your prequalification will be scored on the information provided.

  • But I still have a low score?

    This is not like most prequalification processes you have been through where you pass on the basis of submitting some documentation. 

    From the years of experience that PREQUAL and its advisors have had trialling this level of prequalification, it is expected that a significant number of Category 1 - 4 contractors are likely to score well below 50%. To illustrate this, a score of 4 (out of 4) for a question will require very strong evidence of best practice systems and application. 

    We will also provide you with an indication of where you sit in relation to your peers so you can view your performance in that context.

    It is important that you understand your Clients (actual and prospective) want to see you improve over time so a low score is not a reason to give up!

  • How do I know my prequalification is being scored consistently with other contractors?

    The assessment guides used by PREQUAL Assessors have undergone rigorous testing and continuous improvement to ensure they promote the highest level of consistency between assessors.

    PREQUAL assessors work together which allows continual discussion around interpretation of prequalification evidence. They also meet formally on a regular basis to discuss application of PREQUAL assessment tools.

  • But will this really result in my assessment being consistent with others?

    In addition to the above, PREQUAL has a robust moderation process in place whereby a senior PREQUAL assessor will independently reassess approximately 5% of all submitted prequalifications.  Feedback will be provided to all PREQUAL assessors on a continuous basis. This moderation process, in conjunction with regular reviews of PREQUAL tools, will ensure that assessments are carried out consistently.

  • Do I have the right to appeal my prequalification outcome?

    Huge focus and effort has been placed on getting this right first time.  The Client Governance Group has decided that the oversight, training, continuous professional development and improvement processes described above, coupled with the robust moderation programme, mean that a standard appeal process is not required.  The Client Governance Group will consider appeals/issues on a case by case basis where circumstances indicate that this is warranted.

    The Client Governance Group will regularly re-examine the need for an appeals process, or additional assurance measures.

  • Does PREQUAL monitor my insurance coverage?

    PREQUAL will monitor the expiry of your insurance cover (as you present it to PREQUAL). PREQUAL will notify your nominated key contact person (as defined in your registration details) when your insurance is about to expire.  We will also notify your Clients of this.

    PREQUAL will notify your Clients if your insurance expires and we have not received evidence of renewal.

  • Do I need to save my prequalification as I work through it?

    No.  Your prequalification answers will automatically be saved as you complete the prequalification.  There is no save button.

  • Can I attach a file for an answer rather than fill out text boxes online?

    Most questions have requirements to attach files as evidence.  Where a question asks you to describe something and provides a free text panel for you to type your answer in directly, there is also the opportunity to attach an existing file if that is easier and answers the question adequately.

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