Do I need a building consent?

Most building work requires Building Consent. The consent confirms that the proposed work meets the New Zealand Building Code. This ensures buildings are safe, healthy and durable for everyone who may use them.

You'll definitely need a building consent if...

  • You're building a new house
  • You're building a swimming pools and its associated barriers
  • You're building retaining walls (some may be exempt)
  • You're builiding decks with a falling height over 1.5m
  • You're building a fence over 2.5m high
  • You're building a free-standing non-habitable building larger than 10m2
  • You're doing plumbing and drainage work
  • You're demolishing or partially demolishing a building of more than 3 storeys
  • You're relocating a building
  • You're making additions to an existing building
  • You're changing the use of a building (e.g. garage to granny flat)
  • You're putting in heating, including fireplaces
  • You're putting ventilation and air-conditioning systems in commercial premises
  • You're putting in solar panels
  • You're replacing parts of a building, beyond what can be defined as maintenance and repair

If your project requires a building consent, it must be obtained before any of the work starts, so please make sure that you start the application process well before building is due to start.

You won't need a building consent if...

  • You're doing general maintenance and replacement of an existing building or outbuilding
  • You're building a single story, detached building less than 10 square metres in floor area, that doesn't have cooking facilities; for example, a sleepout or a garden shed
  • You're building an unoccupied, detached building; for example, a construction site office
  • You're putting up a tent or a marquee which is less than 100 square metres and will be up for less than a month
  • You're building a pergola, as long as it's unroofed
  • You're altering a doorway to facilitate access for people with disabilities; for example, installing an access ramp
  • You're replacing the wall, ceiling or floor linings of an existng building
  • You're closing in a veranda or patio that's less than 5 square metres
  • You're building a porch or veranda on the ground or first storey level that's less than 20 square metres
  • You're building a car port that has at least one open side and is less than 20 square metres
  • You're putting up a shade sail less than 50 square metres, at ground level
  • You're building a retaining wall that retains less than 1.5 metres (vertically) of ground
  • You're putting up a fence or a hoarding less than 2.5 metres high, as long as it's not around a swimming pool - fences to swimming pools require consent
  • You're building a deck, platform, bridge or boardwalk where it's not possible to fall more than 1.5 metres
  • You're building a playground, less than 3 metres high, which is just for use by a single private household.

This list covers the most straighforward ones, but it's not exhaustive. Some exemptions depend on who's doing the work. 

More guidance and a full exemption listing 

Find the full list of exemptions on building.govt.nz(external link)

Work that is exempt under Schedule 1 of the Building Act is still required to meet the Building Code to ensure it is safe and fit for purpose. It must also comply with relevant planning controls.

You might be able to get a discretionary exemption

We can consider exemptions on a case-by-case basis for building work and projects where work is:

  • Carried out by or under supervision of suitably qualified persons, and
  • Assurances are given as to how compliance with the New Zealand Building Code will be achieved, and
  • If compliance with the Code is not achieved in full, assurances are given that life and property will not be affected.
  • You can't get an exemption for any work that includes changes to fire safety systems or egress routes
  • You can't get an exemption for changes to specified systems on a compliance schedule.

Contact the duty building officer to discuss you plans and possible discretionary exemption.

What's a PIM and do I need one?

A Project Information Memorandum or PIM is a report relating to a specific project on a property. You can apply for a PIM any time, but it's usually related to a Building Consent.  A PIM investigates issues that might affect your building project, such as:

  • erosion
  • falling debris
  • subsidence
  • slippage
  • flooding
  • presence of hazardous material
  • whether a Resource Consent is required
  • whether other laws affect the site; e.g. heritage building / sites
  • details of surface water and wastewater
  • whether a Development Contribution fee is required
  • whether the proposed use of the building will require an evacuation scheme approved by the New Zealand Fire Service.

PIMs are voluntary, but highly recommended. If you choose to apply for a Building Consent only, a Territorial Authority (TAN) check will be completed instead. This follows a similar procedure, and costs the same as a PIM.

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