Image Courtesy of Don Geddes
What is a building consent?
A building consent is the formal approval issued by a building consent authority (BCA) that certain works meet the requirements of the New Zealand Building Act, Building Regulations and Building Code.
You can not undertake any building work that requires a building consent without this approval. Most building work requires a building consent but some minor work is exempt under the Act.
Exempt work is listed on Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004. This may be viewed on the web on http://www.dbh.govt.nz/blc-building-act.
When is a building consent required?
A building consent is required for most work including
· Structural building - additions, alterations, re-piling, demolition
· Plumbing and drainage (except repair and maintenance of existing (using comparable) components)
· Relocating a building
· Installing a woodburner or air-conditioning system
· Retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres
· Fences or walls higher than 2 metres, and all swimming pools and their associated fences
· Decks, platforms or bridges more than 1 metre above ground level
· Sheds greater than 10 square metres in floor area
For guidance or further information please contact customers services on 03 307 7700
Examples of work that does not require a building consent:
· A patio or deck at ground level
· Garden trellis less than 2 metres high
· Maintenance of your house, for example, replacing spouting or a piece of weatherboard
· Building a small garden shed (provided it is no closer than its own height to the boundary, is under 10 m², and less than one storey high)
How long does it take to get a building consent?
Building consent processing time depends on the complexity of your project and whether or not you have provided us with sufficient information.
All building consents are required to be approved within 20 working days, however; if information is deficient the time clock is stopped and a formal request will be made for further information. The time clock is not restarted until the requested information is received.
It is possible that your building consent application requires checking by several disciplines; it is possible therefore, that the clock maybe stopped on more than one occasion.
How do I apply for a building consent?
You will need to complete the appropriate application form, and provide information that is relevant to your building project. Checklists are provided as a part of the application pack and are for residential or commercial/industrial projects.
Application forms can be obtained from:
· our website, or
· Council’s office at 5 Baring Square West or
· alternatively call us and we will post you one out
Once you have gathered all the necessary information you can either post in the application or bring it in personally to our office.
On receiving your application customer services will carry out a pre-acceptance check to ensure that the application has been completed in full, has been signed and dated and that minimum requirements for documentation has been provided. An application fee made up of PIM and or Administration fees will also be required at this stage.
Your application will be vetted by a Technical Officer who will carry out a technical assessment of the information provided. If your application is declined, it will be returned with a list advising the type of information that is required.
How long is my building consent valid for?
Building consents are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Work must have commenced within the 12 months or the building consent shall lapse requiring a new application.
All building work should be completed within 2 years from the date that the building consent was granted. If the project has been delayed, it may be possible to apply for an extension to this time.
What sort of information do I need?
Building consent applications can be complex; we recommend that you engage a professional person to help with design work and drawings.
Each application must be accompanied by 2 sets of the following:
· Plans (including site, foundation, plumbing and drainage, floor, elevations, cross sections,
· Framing details
· Roof truss design including layout plan, fixings and specific design for lintels where required
· Construction details with all materials, fixings etc noted.
· Written Specifications
· Engineering details, calculations and producer statement (if applicable)
· Bracing design including calculations, schedule and layout plan (if applicable)
· An E2 risk matrix (demonstrating weather tightness features) if icable
· Ground condition report (if applicable)
· Solid Fuel Heaters – Manufacturer’s specifications and installation instructions (if applicable)
· Sediment Control Management Plan – Site location will dictate whether this is required
Information may be submitted in hardcopy or electronically on CD. Electronic information should be in PDF format and clearly bookmarked.
For more detailed information refer to the building consent checklist, BAM 002-R or BAM 002-I identifying more detailed information.
How much will it cost?
Fixed fees are available for the following types of applications:
· Demolition (Residential)
· Marquees (Maximum of 3 marquees per application)
· Heating Appliances
· Solar Hot Water Heater (Stand Alone)
If your project does not meet the fixed fee criteria, then the cost will depend on the type of application, value of work involved and the level of detail provided. Our charges are listed on our website (Schedule of Fees and Charges) and are based on the length of time it takes to process an application and include costs such as:
· Levies payable to the Department of Building and Housing (payable on all applications over $20,000)
· Levies payable to BRANZ (payable on all applications over $20,000)
· Time spent processing the application
· Number of Inspections required (type and number vary depending on application)
· Issue of code compliance certificate
· Issue of compliance schedule (if applicable)
· Development contribution (if applicable)
· District plan compliance fee
An estimate of the fees involved may be provided, however the final cost will not be known until the application is processed. A cancellation fee may apply if you withdraw your application.
How do I lodge an application?
You can lodge your building consent in person or via post. We recommend that you lodge your application in person.
You can provide your information in paper or on CD electronically.
How is my application processed?
All applications regardless of how they are received are put through a formal vetting process. Your application maybe rejected at this time if insufficient information has been provided.
Once the application has been vetted and is accepted, it will be entered into our processing system and allocated a unique identifier (your building consent number). At this point the 20 working day time clock is started.
The application is then circulated to the various disciplines within Council for processing, i.e. planning, engineering, building, water, drainage, etc.
Each discipline will review your application and assess it for compliance. If there are any questions or concerns a letter will be sent to you requesting further information or clarification.
When a request for further information is sent the 20 working day time clock is stopped and processing is suspended until this information is provided.
Once all disciplines are satisfied that compliance is achieved, then a final check is made to ensure all work has been assessed correctly.
When we are satisfied that building consent may be granted or refused, you will be notified of the decision and of any outstanding fees that require payment before the building consent can be granted. The time clock will be stopped pending payment of the outstanding fees. When these are paid building consent will be granted and issued. Work on your project cannot begin until the consent has been granted.
If we consider that the building consent cannot be granted we are required to refuse to issue consent. This does not alleviate the requirement to pay any outstanding building consent fees.
Unfortunately; having a building consent does not necessarily mean that construction may start. In some cases other permissions (like resource consent) may first need to be obtained. Such conditions will be notified on your PIM or building consent.
How will I be notified?
When your application is ready for granting and all outstanding fees are paid your building consent will be posted to the contact person nominated on the application form.
If your application has been refused then you will be formally advised with the reasoning for this.
What are building consent conditions and/or advice notes?
There may be conditions and/or advice notes imposed on your building consent which are deemed necessary to ensure compliance.
It is important that you read and understand all conditions and/or advice notes before commencing work. If you do not understand any condition and/or advice note then please contact us to discuss these.
Amendments to your building consent
Changes to consented building work are often proposed during a building project. While the 'approved building consent' (obtained before work commences) is the foundation document for most building work, the building consent process does allow for this consent to be altered before or during construction -through the 'building consent amendment process'.
A variation that is minor is a change that does not usually affect compliance with the Building Code -for example, the type of taps used or positioning of kitchen joinery or non-structural walls or door.
Most often the minor variation does not affect the level of Building Code compliance; it simply achieves the same outcome in a different way.
A building consent authority must still be notified about any proposed variation so it can confirm the change is minor, advise how they will deal with it and record the minor variation in writing.
Examples of variations that are minor to building consents include:
· substituting one internal lining for a similar internal lining
· substituting the type of timber treatment
· minor wall bracing changes
· a change to a component (eg, fixing bracket)
· a construction change (eg, the framing method around a window when the window is changed to a door)
· changing a room's layout (eg, the position of fixtures in a bathroom or kitchen)
· changing one brand of insulation for another
· building work described in schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004