If you’re planning any construction demolition or alteration work, you will need to obtain a building consent before the work begins.
A building consent is a document issued by the council which verifies that the proposed work complies with the requirements of the New Zealand Building Code 1992 and the Building Act 2004.
A building consent is not an automatic right to start building, there are other issues such as town planning requirements that may impact on your ability to commence work. For instance, you may also need to apply for a resource consent.
Do I need a building consent?
The general rule of thumb is yes, you do.
There are some exemptions from the requirements to have a building consent. Please refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Building and Housings' website (External website)
If you are unsure as to whether the proposed work is exempt, you should contact a Building Consultant to discuss your proposal or bring your proposed plans to our Customer Service Centre where the Duty Building Officer will provide guidance as to whether the work you are planning is exempt.
Schedule 1 of the Building Act lists work that does not need a building consent. Please refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Building and Housings' website for further information by clicking on this link: - Exempt Building Work (External website)
Refer to this Building Guide for some helpful information: - Building Guide PDF (6991kb)
Important notice: Collection of levies at building consent application lodgement
From 1 July 2013 the levies imposed by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment - Building and Housing (MBIE) will be collected at Building Consent lodgement stage rather than when the Building Consent is about to be issued.
The BRANZ levy of $1.00 per $1,000 and the Building (MBIE) levy of $2.01 per $1,000 are applied to all building consents that have building work valued at $20,000.00 or more.
The levy is worked on each $1,000.00 or part thereof for the total value, if that value exceeds $20,000.00.
For example: -
Work value = $35,000.00 - BRANZ = $35.00 MBIE = $70.35
Work value = $120,000.00 - BRANZ = $120.00 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 authority.
Restricted building work
From 1 March 2012, changes to the Building Act 2004 mean that building work (including design work) that relates to either the structure (load-bearing walls; foundations etc) or moisture penetration (roofs; cladding etc) of homes, including small to medium sized apartments, is classified as 'Restricted Building Work' (RBW) and must be carried out by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP).
This also includes the design of fire safety systems for small to medium apartments, which is deemed to be building work critical to the integrity of a building.
An LBP is a skilled and/or qualified, appropriately licensed individual who is required to demonstrate their ability to meet industry consulted competencies.
The scheme has seven license classes:
- External Plasterers
- Bricklayers and Blocklayers
- Foundation specialist
- Site (These are on-site supervisors or managers)
Registered Architects, Chartered Professional Engineers, Plumbers and Gasfitters are automatically classed as LBPs under their related registration systems.
From 1 March 2012, building consent applications which relate to RBW will not be accepted unless they include a Memorandum (Certificate of Design Work) from an LBP certifying that the design work complies with the Building Code.
Trade LBPs must be notified to Council, either at the Building Consent application stage (if known) or prior to the work commencing. Council is unable to accept inspection bookings until this information is provided. Please complete and submit the Trade LBP form below prior to inspections being booked.
To enable Council to issue a Code of Compliance Certificate, building owners are required to provide memoranda (record of building work) for all of their Trade LBPs.
While most industry practitioners are aware of the upcoming changes to this legislation it is important that members of the public who intend to undertake building work are also aware of the new requirements.
For further information regarding the Licensed Building Practitioner Scheme, please refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Building and Housings' website (External website)
Get a copy of the Building Act - (External website)
MultiProof building consents
These are sometimes called national multi-use approval. MultiProofs allow builders who replicate the same or substantially similar buildings several times, 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, Building and Housing. This avoids the need for the design to be assessed and re-approved by individual Building Consent Authorities (BCA's) each time it is proposed to be built on a different site.
MultiProof approvals are issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Building and Housing.
A building consent is needed each time you want to build a design that has been issued with a MultiProof approval. This is so that 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 required to assess the Building Code compliance of site- specific features that are excluded from the MultiProof, the statutory timeframe for the BCA to issue a Building Consent for applications that rely on a MultiProof is 10 working days, rather than the usual 20 working days.
For further information please refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Building and Housings' website (External website)
Tents and marquees
The Building Act 2004 specifies the requirement for Building Consent to erect any tent or marquee that does not comply with Schedule 1, 5 as outlined below: -
Tents, marquees, and similar lightweight structures
Building work in connection with any tent or marquee, or any similar lightweight structure (for example, a stall, booth, or compartment used at fairs, exhibitions, or markets) that -
(a) does not exceed 100 square meters in floor area; and
(b) is to be, or has been, used for a period of not more than 1 month.
Please refer to the attached information sheet for further information.
How do I apply for a building consent?
An application for a Building Consent must be made on the Building Consent application form which is available from the Customer Service Centre or download the form here: - Application for Building Consent - PDF (500Kb)
These forms must be fully completed before being submitted.
Two copies of all plans and documents are required. An additional digital copy may be required for commercial applications if a review is required by the New Zealand Fire Service Design Review Unit.
A Specified Systems form must also be completed and attached to an application for commercial/industrial buildings or residential buildings with a cable car. This form is available from the Customer Service Centre or download the form here: Download the form here: - Specified Systems Form - PDF (181Kb)
Property Information Memorandum (PIM)
You may also decide to apply for a PIM which is a report issued by Council that provides relevant information to a specific proposed building project, such as:
- location of services
- likelihood of flooding
- soft ground etc.
Council will also inform the owner of any other requirements; such as Resource Consents, Development Contribution Levies payable, Vehicle Crossings or other issues that may affect the design and/or construction of the proposed structure.
An application for a PIM must be made on the Building Consent application forms, which are available on this page, or from the Customer Service Centre. All forms must be fully completed before being submitted.
How long does it take?
Council has a statutory requirement to process the Building Consent in 20 working days of the application being received. If more information is required, then the "Clock Stops" until all information is received.
The person nominated as the Contact Person will be telephoned and advised when the Building Consent is ready.
The Building Consent will be forwarded in the requested manner after the balances of fees (if any) are paid.
Building work cannot begin until the Building Consent is granted.
Suspensions - what are they?
Processing of a Building Consent may be suspended where it is found that information is missing or is incorrect. The processing Officer will contact the nominated contact person and request any additional information that may be required.
When the information has been provided to Council, the suspension status will be lifted and the statutory processing time clock restarts.
All building work in conjunction with a building consent must be done in accordance with the plans, specifications and detail provided with the building consent. If you wish to change some aspect of the project you must apply for an amendment to the building consent and the amendment must be approved before the work is carried out.
The process for obtaining an amendment is similar to obtaining the original consent. Full construction detail of any changes must be submitted, with an application for Amendment to a Building Consent, which must then be processed and approved by Council.
For further guidance and examples of when an amendment application is required as opposed to a minor variation to an approved Building Consent, please refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Building and Housings website (External website)
Code Compliance Certificate
A building owner must apply for a Code Compliance Certificate as soon as possible following the completion of all building work and inspections in accordance with the Building Consent and within two years from the granting date of the Building Consent.
If you need more time, you or your builder can apply for a time extension.
Please return your completed Code Compliance Certificate application form to us with any other necessary documentation identified on the building consent - such as electrical certificates, warranties, and records of building work.
Council will issue your Code Compliance Certificate once we are satisfied the building work has been completed in accordance with the approved plans and specifications. This may take up to 20 days.
Change of use, alterations and extension of life
If you want to change the use of a building, even if no building work is involved, the owner needs to let the council know of the change (in writing).
You should also talk to the council if you want:
- to alter a building, as this could trigger upgrade provisions 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
You cannot make the proposed change until the council gives the owner written confirmation that the requirements of the Building Act have been complied with.
The requirements will vary. The council will need to be satisfied that the building in its new use will comply with the Building Code as near as reasonably practicable (also known as ANARP). The parts of the Building Code which need to be complied with will depend on the change of use. Often a building consent will be required.
If you make the change without advising the council you could be liable for a fine.
Every building is designed for a specific use and has to meet Building Code requirements that ensure it will be safe, healthy and durable when used in the way it was designed. If that use changes, the building may need to be altered to support the new use.
To determine if the building is a change of use, refer to Sections 5, 6 and Schedule 2 of Building Regulations 2005 (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) for use of all or parts of the building, on the New Zealand Legislation website.
For more information, download our change of use guidance (PDF, 300KB)
Unauthorised building work
Unauthorised building work is work carried out with no evidence of a building permit (if constructed before 1 July 1992) or with no evidence of a building consent (if constructed on or from 1 July 1992).
All swimming pools, spa pools and hot tubs are required to be fenced in accordance with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987. All private swimming pools, spa pools and hot tubs must be registered on the Council pool register and inspected for compliance on a regular basis.
If you are purchasing a new pool or spa pool, you are required to apply for a Building Consent to install the pool on your property, along with any associated fences, gates etc. Any work in conjunction with swimming pool fencing requires building consent regardless of whether or not a pool already exists or is being installed.
Inbuilt and freestanding fireplaces
If you are planning to install a fireplace in your home you will need to get a building consent.
Information and a list of tested and approved wood burners are available on the Ministry For the Environment's website. Wood burners on this list are the only wood burners that will be approved for installation on properties of two hectares or less.
Palmerston North City Council will not approve any Building Consent application involving the installation of a second hand woodburner.
Solar water heating
If you are planning to install solar water heating you will need to get Building Consent. The link below provides a list of information and detail that you will need to attach to your application.
An application for a Vehicle Crossing needs to be completed if you are altering/extending an existing thoroughfare where vehicles cross from your property onto a public road, or creating a new one.
This form and information is available below or from the Customer Service Centre. The form must be fully completed before being submitted and must be accompanied by a site plan showing the size and location of the proposed crossing.
This form and information is available below or from the Customer Service Centre. The form must be fully completed before being submitted and must be accompanied by a site plan showing the size and location of the proposed service connection.