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Building Consents in New Zealand - A 'How To' Guide

Updated: Sep 6, 2023


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People in hardhats looking at house plans

If you’re looking at renovating or altering part of your house, it’s useful to have an idea of what will require building consent so you don’t waste time unnecessarily. Knowing the basic process and the sort of documentation required will help save you time and stress in the long run.

You will need building consent if you:

  • Are renovating or altering the structure of the building or conducting demolition work.

  • Add additional plumbing or drainage work (ie a new bathroom).

  • Are planning to relocate a building to a new site.

  • Plan to install a wood burner retrospectively.

  • Want to build a retaining wall exceeding 1.5m in height.

  • Install a fence or wall higher than 2.5m (this includes a fence around a swimming pool).

  • Are building a deck, platform or bridge that is higher than 1.5m above the ground. (Total site coverage also impacts whether or not Resource Consent will be required).

  • Are wanting to build a shed with a floor area larger than 30 sq/m (this may vary from Council to Council)

  • Are planning earthworks.

If you are unsure whether the project you’re working on requires consent, we suggest seeking advice from your local Council.

How to Apply for a Building Consent In New Zealand

The person conducting the work should be the one to apply for consent. This could be a certified builder or yourself, or you can employ the services of an architect. Bear in mind that work needs to have commenced before the consent expires 12 months from the date of issue. You are given 2 full years to complete all work otherwise the consent will lapse.

A consent pack can be obtained from your local Council, with most Councils offering the option of downloading forms online. It may also be worthwhile making an appointment to see a Council representative to discuss your project and find out exactly what information they require. This way, you'll be prepared from the outset of the job. (It’s no fun having to retrace your steps once you're well underway with your project when everything could have been addressed right at the beginning).

Once your project is complete, it will need to be signed off so a Code of Compliance certificate can be issued. The Code of Compliance is proof that your project was done to the appropriate standards. This is something that future owners will also want to see if you ever decide to sell your property.

When applying for a Code of Compliance, you will need to obtain an application form from your local Council (again, some Councils have this form available online for you to download). There are several documents that you will need to submit with the application, such as:

  • The name and contact details of everyone involved in your project (i.e. The carpenter, engineer, plumber, drain layer, electrician, etc.)

  • Energy work certificates for completed gas or electrical work

  • Producer Statements (these are documents usually supplied by the Engineer but are also required for construction elements such as concrete works)

  • Licenced Building Practitioner’s Record of Works document

  • Any plans that may include changes since the original plans were submitted

  • An 'as-built' services plan (for work such as drainage and plumbing)

  • The roof truss installation plan

  • Other installation certificates (for things like waterproofing and cladding)

  • Information about any specified systems

The Council has 20 working days to process your application from the date you lodge it. If further information is required, the Council will put the time on hold while you supply the documents needed. If your certificate is not approved for whatever reason, you can reapply for the Code of Compliance certificate once the issues they specify have been resolved.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by keeping track of the paperwork and documentation for your building project or you don't have the time and would prefer that someone else take care of this for you, we would love to help! Please contact us and let us know how we can help with the building consent process on your next project.

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