If you are planning a project that involves demolishing, constructing, or altering a building, it is likely you will need some form of consent before you proceed.
What is a building consent?
A building consent is a formal approval to undertake building work in accordance with approved plans and specifications. A building consent establishes that your planned building work complies with the Building Act 2004 and the building code.
Building work includes work in connection with the construction, alteration, demolition or removal of a building and consent must be obtained before you start work. (Building consent is not required in certain cases as specified under section 41 of the Building Act 2004).
When do I need a building consent?
You need to apply for building consent before building; a new house, commercial building, or before doing any building work such as structural work, plumbing and drainage work and alterations, or before relocating an existing building to a new section. Basically most building, plumbing and drainage work requires building consent.
Examples of work that will require building consent:
- structural building - additions, alterations, re-piling, demolition (if the building is not detached, or is more than 3 storeys)
- installing or altering plumbing and drainage work (some work which is of a minor nature is exempt)
- relocating a building
- installing a solid fuel burner (includes open fires, wood burners, multi-fuel, pellet or coal burning heaters, coal ranges/cooking stoves)
- installing or altering a specified system (lifesaving feature)
- retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres
- fences or walls higher than 2.5 metres, and all swimming pool fences
- decks, platforms or bridges more than 1.5 metres above ground level
- sheds greater than 10 square metres in floor area
- erecting marquees over 100 square metres.
If in doubt please contact Building Services staff. If you build without building consent you may; be liable for a fine, have difficulty selling in the future, or getting insurance.
Further information can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (link to external website, new window)
Building work that does not require building consent
There are certain types of building work that are exempt from requiring a building consent. These are listed under Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 and can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (link to external website, new window).
All building work whether or not it requires a building consent must still comply with the building code and other relevant legislation. Resource consent may also be required. If the building work is exempt you can still choose to apply for a building consent.
Exempt building work being done as part of the project, in conjunction with building work that requires building consent - The DCC may be held responsible for all building work shown on consent documents, even when marked as exempt and not part of the consent. It is acceptable to show a general outline of exempt building work on a site plan, elevation or cross section so long as it is labelled as exempt. If construction details such as joist sizes, fixings or flashing details are shown on consent documents they will be processed as part of the consent irrespective of being labelled as exempt. Additional delays and processing charges may apply.
DCC are prepared to accept records from owners relating to exempt building work and place a copy of the information on the property file.Owners should be aware that the DCC does not take any responsibility for checking that the information provided about exempt building work is in accordance with the requirements of the building code. There is an administrative fee for placing this information on file. This fee covers the cost of handling and storing the information.
Schedule 1 also contains a provision which provides an applicant with an opportunity to seek an exemption when building consent must otherwise be required. Applicants must apply to the DCC for this type of exemption. There is a processing fee associated with this exemption, refer to Building Services General Charges (new window)
You should always check with a building professional and seek their advice before deciding whether building work is exempt. The Building Act is clear that it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that they obtain a building consent when one is required.
Further guidance and details of the type of work that does not require a building consent can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website (link to external website, new window)
- NZ Homeowner's Building Guide 2017 (PDF File, 5.4 MB | New window)
- Building services general charges (Link | New window)
- Building work that does not require a building consent (Link to external website | New window)
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Link to external website | New window)
- Otago Regional Council (Link to external website | New window)
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