Rates, Building and Property

Building consents

Find out when you need building consent, how to apply, and things to look out for.

Building consent is issued by the Council to verify that proposed work meets the New Zealand Building Code 1992 and the Building Act 2004. Depending on your project, you may also need to apply for resource consent before you can start work.

When you need building consent

If you’re planning any construction, demolition or alteration work, you’ll need building consent before work can begin. Building consent is also often needed for tents or marquees, pools, fireplaces, driveways and solar panels. There are some exceptions. If in doubt, talk to us or refer to the guidance below.

For Council to log exempt building work on a public property file as a public record, you need to apply for a building work exemption.

Restricted building work

Building and design work relating to a building’s structure, foundations, fire safety or moisture protection is classified as ‘restricted building work’. Restricted building work currently only relates to residential buildings, and can only be done by a licensed building practitioner (LBP).

Registered architects, chartered professional engineers, plumbers and gasfitters are automatically classed as LBPs under their registration systems.

Building consent applications for restricted building work must include a memorandum from licensed building practitioner: certificate of design work. Your LBP will use this form to certify that the design work complies with the Building Code.

TIP: When you apply for building consent, or before work starts, you’ll need to tell us which licensed tradespeople you’ll be using, using the notification form below. You won’t be able to book a building inspection until you’ve provided this.

Tents and marquees

If you want to put up a tent, stall or marquee that’s over 100 square metres in floor area, for longer than one month, you will need building consent.

Changing the way a building is used

If you want to change the use of a building, even if no building work is involved, you need to let us know in writing. You should also talk to us if you want:

  • to alter a building, as this could require upgrading for the whole building
  • an extension of life for a building with a specified intended life
  • to do a subdivision that will affect a building.

A building owner can’t make the proposed change until we have given written confirmation that the requirements of the Building Act have been complied with. Building consent is often needed. If you make a change without advising Council you could be liable for a fine.

Swimming pools

By law, all swimming pools, spa pools and hot tubs must be fenced. Private swimming pools, spa pools and hot tubs also need to be registered on the Council pool register and regularly inspected.

Any work to do with swimming pool fencing requires building consent – regardless of whether a pool already exists or is being installed.

If you’re buying a new pool or spa pool, you need to apply for a building consent to install the pool, fences and gates.

More about fencing swimming pools

Fireplaces

If you’re planning to install a fireplace in your home you’ll need building consent. If your property is less than two hectares in lot size, you’ll need to choose a wood burner from a list approved by the Ministry for the Environment. We don’t approve building consents for second-hand wood burners.

Solar water heating

If you’re planning to install solar water heating you will need building consent.

Vehicle crossings

A vehicle crossing is the area of driveway between the road and your property boundary. It usually replaces part of the footpath.

If you want to build, modify or repair a vehicle crossing, you need to apply to Council. Complete the application form below, select a Council approved concrete contractor, and provide a site plan showing the size and location of the proposed crossing.

How to apply for building consent

To apply for building consent you need to:

  • fill out the building consent application form
  • provide two copies of your plans and supporting documents
  • provide a digital copy (commercial applications only)

There are some additional requirements for commercial building consent applications

Make sure you provide all the information and that it is correct, as missing or incorrect information can lead to delays.

Building consent costs

For the current building consent fees see:

Building industry levies

Building industry levies are collected when people apply for building consent.

The Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) levy of $1 per $1,000 and the Building (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) levy of $2.01 per $1,000 are applied to all building consents that have building work valued at $20,000 or more.

The levy is worked on each $1,000 or part thereof for the total value, if that value exceeds $20,000.

For example:

Work value = $35,000 BRANZ = $35 MBIE = $70.35
Work value = $120,000  BRANZ = $120  MBIE = $241.20

The BRANZ levy is not subject to GST. The Building (MBIE) levy includes GST. These levies could be subject to change by the relevant authorities.

How long it takes

We are legally required to process a building consent in 20 working days of the application being received. If more information is required, the ‘clock stops’ until all information is received.

When the consent is ready, we will call the person nominated as the contact person. The building consent is then provided after any fees are paid. Building work cannot begin until the building consent is granted.

If your plans change

All building work related to a building consent must be done according to the plans, specifications and detail provided with the consent. If you want to change part of the project you need to apply for an amendment to the building consent. The process of requesting an amendment is similar to the original consent. You need to provide full construction detail of any changes, so we can assess them.

Council needs to approve the amendment before you can carry out any work.

For guidance on amendments, see:

Property information memorandums

Many people apply for a PIM at the same time as building consent. This report provides information relevant to a proposed building project, and can include things like the location of services, likelihood of flooding, subsidence and ground stability.

It’s also a way to find out about any other requirements you might need for your project, such as resource consents, development contribution levies, vehicle crossings or other issues that may affect the design and/or construction of the proposed structure.

You apply for a PIM report on the building consent application forms.

Code compliance certificates 

Building owners must apply for a code compliance certificate as soon as possible after building work and inspections are complete, and within two years from the date the building consent was granted.

Please apply using the form below. Council will only issue the certificate when we are satisfied the work meets the approved plans and specifications.

If the project includes restricted building work you’ll need to provide a record of building work for all the trade licensed building practitioners before we can issue a certificate.

Requesting more time

A time extension can be applied for in writing. This may be done by the builder on the owner’s behalf but responsibility remains the owner’s.

Unauthorised building work

Unauthorised building work is work carried out with no evidence it was approved by Council. The information in the guide below will help you determine what to do.

For building work carried out without a building consent before the introduction of the Building Act 1991, a third party report may be placed on the property file as a public record. Council does not accept any responsibility for checking or validating these reports, nor does it accept liability for the content.

For building work carried out from 1 July 1992, you can apply for a certificate of acceptance.

MultiProof building consents

These are sometimes called national multi-use approvals. MultiProofs enable builders who replicate the same or similar buildings to benefit from a streamlined building consent process.

Where a building design is intended to be replicated several times, a builder can apply to have the design pre-approved for Building Code compliance by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. This avoids the need for the design to be assessed and re-approved by individual building consent authorities each time it is proposed for a different site.

You’ll still need a building consent each time you want to build a design that has been issued with a MultiProof approval. This is so we can check that the approval conditions are met and that the
site-specific features of the design, such as foundations, comply with the Building Code.

As a BCA is only needed to assess the Building Code compliance of site-specific features excluded from the MultiProof, the statutory timeframe for a MultiProof building consent is 10 working days.