What is a building consent

A building consent is the formal approval granted by a building consent authority that building works meet the requirements of the New Zealand Building Act, Building Regulations, and Building Code. A building consent is required before you can begin building works.

Only a building consent authority can issue a building consent. Building consent authorities are councils, regional authorities, or private organisations registered under section 273 of the Building Act 2004.

When a building consent is required

A building consent is required for all new building work and for alterations to existing buildings, such as

  • Swimming and spa pools and their associated fencing
  • Retaining walls (some may be exempt)
  • Decks with a falling height over 1.5m (note that a safety barrier is still required under Building Code clause F4 – Safety from falling where there is a fall of 1 metre or more)
  • Fences over 2.0m high
  • Free-standing non-habitable buildings larger than 10m2
  • Plumbing and drainage work
  • Partial demolition of building, or demolition of detached building (more than 3 storeys)
  • Relocation
  • Additions, alterations to existing buildings
  • New buildings
  • Change of use (e.g. garage to granny flat)
  • Heating, including fireplaces
  • Ventilation and air-conditioning systems for commercial premises
  • Solar panels
  • Replacements if not strictly like for like and if the work goes 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.

When a building consent is not required

The Building Act 2004 Schedule 1 details the type of work that does not require a building consent.  For more information see building work exempt from building consent.

If you are unsure whether you will need a building consent or not, please contact the Customer Services Centre on 03 546 0200.

Process at a glance

Step 1: Plans and ideas prepared

Step 2: Project Information Memorandum (PIM) applied for and issued

Step 3: Detailed plans and specifications prepared

Step 4: Building consent applied for and deposit or full fee is paid

Step 5: Plans and specifications checked for compliance, also known as processing the application (Council may request further information during this step).  Council has 20 working days to decide to grant or refuse the consent.

Step 6: Building consent granted and issued

Step 7: Building work begins (building consents lapse if work does not begin within 12 months)

Step 8: Inspections during building process

Step 9: Apply for Code Compliance Certificate (CCC)

Other useful information

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