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Building FAQs

Can a Building Consent Be Issued Prior to a Resource Consent?              

A building consent may be issued prior to the approval of a resource consent, however building consent will be accompanied by a certificate stating ‘No Building Work may proceed’ (or only limited work may proceed) until the resource consent is issued.

At What Size Does a Proposed Building Require a Building Consent?              

A ‘building’ is defined in Section 7, 8 and 9 of the Building Act 2004 . In particular note the definition of Building and Building Work, and Schedule 1 of the Building Act (which specifies what work is exempt from a building consent). It is not just the size of the building that determines the requirement for building consent. You should always check with your Builder/Designer or a member of the building team from council if you are unsure.

You can build a small accessory building (shed, pergola, gazebo, glasshouse, sleepout) without a building consent if the building:

  • is under 10m2 in area; and
  • contains no sanitary facilities; and
  • contains no cooking facilities; and
  • is single storied; and
  • is at least its own height away from the property boundary and from any residential building on the property or any neighbouring property; and
  • is not a spa or swimming pool enclosure or fence.

Even if a building consent is not required, the construction still needs to comply with the NZ Building Code. This includes spouting and storm water control. You will probably need a building consent if it does not meet the above requirements. You should look at Schedule 1 of the Building Act for more information on exemptions

For a full list of building works that do not require a building consent, check Schedule 1

Do I Need a Building Consent to Do Electrical Work in My House?                

No you do not require a building consent. Council has no jurisdiction over electrical work.

Do I Need a Building Consent to Re-pile My House?              

In accordance with the Building Act 2004, a building consent is not required for repairs and maintenance of piles, unless it is ‘substantial’. The act does not define what substantial is, however it is generally accepted that if you are replacing more than 10% of the piles, it would be deemed substantial and a building consent would be required.

Full re-piling also requires a building consent as the structural integrity will be affected, i.e. under pinning, foundation design change, or change of pile layout. In such circumstances a building consent is required. Owners are recommended to obtain a building consent in all cases for the purpose of recording the work.

Do I Need a Building Consent if I Want to Plaster Over the Brick Veneer of My House?              

Plaster rendering over brick veneer work does not require a building consent. The plaster must not cover the weep holes inset in the bottom brick row.

Do I Need a Building Consent if I’m Carrying Out Re-cladding on My House or Building?              

If you are repairing the cladding and replacing with the same materials then no building consent is required, unless the existing cladding has not met the durability requirements of the Building Code which is 15 years. If you are changing the cladding material e.g. from weatherboards to stucco or some other material, then you will require a building consent.

Do I Need a Building Consent to Build a Deck on My Property?              

A building consent is required for a deck where it is more than 1.5m above the ground. The deck must be constructed in accordance with the Building Code and details such as the structure, balustrade and planning requirements will be checked.

What Are the Building Requirements for Double Glazing?              

The energy efficiency building requirements of the 3rd Edition of Clause H1 of the New Zealand Building Code were introduced on 31 October 2007, making double glazing necessary in most new houses to meet the new glazing R-valve of 0.26.

It still may be possible to use single glazing by using a heat loss calculation (Calculation Method – NZS4218:2004) that allows the insulation in one part of a house to be traded against the insulation in another part of the house. You should discuss this with your designer as they will be required to provide calculations demonstrating compliance with NZS4218:2004 with any building consent application.

Note: the new requirements of the 3rd Edition of Clause H1 only apply to building consent applications, applied for on or after 31 October 2007.

My Building Consent Says I Have to Install Smoke Detectors. What Specifically Do I Need and Where Can I Get Them?              

Under Sections 112 and 115 of the Building Act 2004, smoke detectors with a ‘Hush’ facility are required in all dwellings or residential units that require a building consent to be issued. This includes new buildings, altered buildings, or buildings changed to a residential use. Free standing non habitable buildings (i.e. garages or sheds) and site drainage do not invoke the requirement.

Most single level houses will require a minimum of one smoke detector, however it is important to think of the whole escape route. If the hallway adjoining the bedrooms lead (via a door) through another space to the exit door, that space will require a detector as well. Two storey houses will require detectors at both levels, regardless of which level the sleeping activity is on.

All applications for consents will require complete floor layouts with room names, doorways and the smoke detectors clearly marked.

Standard smoke detectors which are already installed can remain but ‘Hush’ models must also be installed. A ‘Hush’ or ‘double button’ smoke alarm differs from older models in that they have an additional button which allows the alarm to be quietened for a period of time while the cause of an accidental triggering of the alarm is fixed (e.g. burnt toast). These detectors are available at most hardware stores.

Do I Need a Building Consent for My Swimming Pool?              

The Building Act requires that all pools intended to hold more than 400mm of water are to be installed under a building Consent. This applies not only to the installation of the pool, but also to the construction of any pool fence.

Do I Need a Building Consent for a Carport?         

A building consent is required if the carport exceeds 20sq m in floor area. A carport that is less than 20sqm and remains open on at least one side at all times is not required to have a building consent.

What Information do I Need to Provide with my Application When I Apply for a Commercial Building Consent?          

Specific information to include in a building consent application for a commercial building:

  • Fire design report
  • Mechanical ventilation design and Producer Statement
  • Engineers structural design and Producer Statement
  • Accessibility design
  • Backflow protection.

Note: Using a suitably qualified draughtsperson or architect should lead to reduced processing times and costs.

How long is my Building Consent valid for?

Once a building consent is issued, you have 12 months to start the work or the consent automatically lapses and is of no effect. You also have a total of 24 months to complete the building work, make an application for CCC. In some circumstances you may be able to apply for an extension of time – phone us if this may be required.

Restricted Building Work Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Restricted Building Work? (RBW)

Building work, whether design or construction, that is critical to the integrity of a residential or small-to-medium-size apartment.

What is considered to be “critical to the integrity” in this case?

Primary structure, external moisture management systems and fire safety systems.

What buildings are affected by RBW?

New dwellings including additions and alteration to an existing dwelling and residential apartments but only those that are not mixed-use (i.e. do not include a shop, office of other commercial activity in the building).

Other than being a residential building what other rules apply to RBW?

Maximum three stories and a maximum of 10 metres high.

How do I know if RBW is involved at consent stage?

Your designer should tell you that RBW is involved or call the Council and ask to speak to a building officer.

What are Licensed Building Practitioners?

Under the Building Act 2004 the Department of Building and Housing established in November 2007 the Licensed Building Practitioner Scheme. This scheme sets out a regulated process where skilled and/or qualified building practitioners are required to demonstrate their ability to meet industry consulted competencies in order to obtain the status of being a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP). The scheme has seven license classes: Designers, carpenters, roofers, external plasterer’s, brick and block layers, foundation and floor slab. Registered Architects and Plumbers as well as Chartered Professional Engineers are all deemed to be LBP’s.

Is a registered architect an LBP?

Yes, registration as a registered Architect equates to LBP licensing. The Registered Architects Act 2005 protects the title of Registered Architect. Only persons registered with the Registered Architects Board (the Board) (www.nzrab.org.nz) may use words, initials, or abbreviations of the title Registered Architect. The Act provides a framework for ensuring the competence of registered architects by requiring them to undertake continuing professional development. The Act also puts in place measures to discipline registered architects.

What is the difference between a designer and a registered architect?

An architect has gained a university degree in his / her profession. This is recognised by statute and as such is deemed acceptable. Designers have not.

Is a Chartered Professional Engineer an LBP?

Yes, registration as a chartered professional engineer equates to LBP licensing. The Chartered Professional Engineers Act 2002 protects the title of “Chartered Professional Engineer”. Only persons registered with the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand may use words, initials, or abbreviations of the title Chartered Professional Engineer. The Act provides a framework for ensuring the competence of chartered professional engineers by requiring them to undertake continuing professional development. The Act also puts in places measures to discipline chartered professional engineers.

What is a Chartered Professional Engineer?

Chartered Professional engineers are bound by statute and agree to abide by a code of ethics; they have their competency proven, whereas non-chartered engineers do not.

Does a registered architect, chartered professional engineer or plumber have an LBP number or can they use their professional registration number?

These professionals use the registration number allocated to them under their own statute. All other trades people, engineers and designers (i.e. those not registered under a statute) must be LBPs.

I am going to hire a designer, what should I do?

If you are hiring a designer now, be sure to hire someone who can do Restricted Building Work. You may wish to review the public register at the Department of Building and Housing. 

What if I don’t want to use an LBP to do the work?

From 1 March 2012 it is an offence for an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise restricted building work and it is an offence to knowingly engage an unlicensed person to carry out or supervise restricted building work.

I am not licensed can I do the work?

Owner builders are able to carry out Restricted Building Work on their OWN home. You are an “owner builder” if you:

  • Live in or are going to live in the home (includes a bach or holiday home)
  • Carry out the Restricted Building Work to your own home yourself, or with the help of your unpaid friends and family members, and,
  • Have not, under the owner-builder exemption, carried Restricted Building Work to any other home within the previous 3 years.

Most DIY work is usually minor repair, maintenance or alteration work and does not fall within the category of RBW, therefore, home owners can continue to do this work as they always have. If you are an owner builder you will need to complete a statutory declaration form showing that you meet the criteria. This form will need to be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or someone else authorised by law to do so. This form will need to be supplied with your building application or before construction on your new home. There is a more detailed explanation on the MBIE website.

What are my obligations as an owner?

From 1 March 2012, if you undertake structural work or work that affects the weather tightness of a building, and the building is residential, then that work may be classified as “Restricted Building Work” (RBW). From that date, RBW can only be done and/or supervised by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP). Most building plans that need building consent from your Council will include Restricted Building Work. Work that needs building consent such as kitchen installation and internal renovation work are examples of exceptions to this. If it doesn’t involve work to the home’s primary structure or weather tightness, it is not RBW. The owner is also responsible for notifying Council who the LBPs are that have been engaged to carry out / supervise the RBW.

If I am not doing RBW, do I still need a building consent?

Yes, quite probably although some work is not classified as RBW it will still need a building consent. Examples may include swimming pools, garages, etc.

What are the license classes for trade RBW? (RoW)

  • Carpentry
  • Roofing
  • Brick and block laying
  • External plastering
  • Foundations and subfloor / slab

I can’t find an LBP what should I do?

Check the LBP register at the Licensed Practitioners website. If you cannot get an LBP, advise the Department by phoning 0800 60 60 50.