Changes to an existing building


Changing a building can mean a couple of different things, but no matter if you're changing a building's structure or just what it's used for, you need to be aware of what's required.

Changing the use of a building

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.

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.

The requirements will vary, depending on whether the change of use means that new household units will be incorporated in the building. If this is the case, we 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). If this is not the case, the building will have to comply with building code requirements around access and escape for fire.

Often a building consent will be required.

Government guidance: Change of use, alterations and extension of life

Alterations to existing buildings

Altering an existing building may trigger upgrade provisions for the whole building. These provisions are in the building code and ensure the quality of New Zealand's building stock improves over time.

Upgrade provisions relate to:

  • means of escape from fire
  • access and facilities for people with disabilities (if relevant).

All other aspects of the building must continue to comply with the building code to at least the same extent as before the alteration.

Council may allow people to alter their building without ensuring it fully complies with the code's relevant provisions if they are satisfied the alteration:

  • will not take place if the building has to comply
  • and will improve the means of escape from fire or access and facilities for people with disabilities
  • and outweighs (through improvement) any detriment likely to arise from not complying.

Extension of life

Where a building with a specified intended life is issued with a building consent which is subject to the condition that the building be altered before the end of its life, an extension of life can be obtained.

Building owners must give written notice to Council if they propose extending the life of a building. If you make a change without advising us you could be liable for a fine.

Subdividing an existing building

Under Section 224(f) of the Resource Management Act, Council must not issue a certificate for a proposed subdivision unless we're satisfied that the building will comply with, as nearly as reasonably practicable, every provision of the building code that relates to:

  • means of escape from fire
  • access and facilities for people with disabilities (if this is a requirement for the building under section 118 of the Building Act)
  • protection of other property.

The building must also continue to comply with the other provisions of the building code to at least the same extent as before the subdivision application was made.