Do I Need a Building Consent?      (PDF 102kb)

If you are intending to start a building project, it is recommended that you check with the Building Consent Authority (your local Council) to see if a Building Consent is required. They have a wide range of building control expertise and information about exemptions and the Building Consent process. If the work, or part of it, does not require a Building Consent, you may save time and money. But in most cases, a Building Consent will be required. 

What is Exempt?

Schedule 1 to the Building Act 2004 lists the building projects that do not need a Building Consent.  Exempted works are generally works that will not impact on the structural integrity or safety components of the building. (See MBIE for a list of exempt building work). However, no matter how minor the project is, all building work must be carried out in accordance with the Building Act, the Building Code and the District Plan. 

If you are unsure, then you should contact your local Council for advice. 

While the Building Act provided for exemptions, there might be other laws that you need to comply with. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • The Building Code
  • The Resource Management Act 1991
  • The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 1976
  • The Electricity Act 1992
  • The Health Act 1956
  • Local Government bylaws

Do you need a Building Consent?

Check before you build

For links to the above legislation and the Building Act go to the page on legislation or search For more information on Local Government bylaws, go to your local Council website. New Zealand Legislation website provides a complete list of work not requiring a building consent (Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004), and the following guidance documents below:

NOTE:  Any exempt building work not completed in accordance with the New Zealand Building Code or the Resource Management Act may be subject to the enforcement provisions of either Act.



Owner's / Agent's Responsibilities

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Obtaining a building consent for building work:  It is the owner's responsibility to obtain a building consent BEFORE starting a building project. A builder or designer (draughtsman, architect or engineer) can act as the owner's agent and obtain a building consent on behalf of the building owner. The building consent application form must be completed and all required documentation provided to Council for assessment.
  • Obtaining a resource consent:  If you are unsure if a resource consent is required or whether your particular project meets the requirements of the District Plan, Council planners are available to provide you with the guidance you require.  
  • Employing competent designers and tradespeople: If the building is restricted building work then the designers and tradespeople doing or supervising the restricted building work must be licensed building practitioners (LBP's).
  • Obtaining approval for amending the plans: The owner must apply for an amendment to the building consent if changes are to be made to the approved building consent and documentation. 
  • Inspections: The owner / agent must ensure that all required inspections specified in the building consent documentation received from Council are booked at the appropriate stages of the building project and that any issues identified in these inspections are addressed.
  • Notification of LBPs: The owner must notify the Council of the names, LBP details and contact details of all persons who will do or supervise any work that is restricted building work. If there are any changes to the LBPs, they must notify Council of these changes prior to any restricted building work commencing. See LBP Notification form.
  • Provision of Memoranda: It is the owner's responsibility to provide Council with the completed Certificate of Work when applying for a building consent. It is also their responsibility to supply the Council with all the Records of Work at project completion.
  • Application for a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC): It is the responsibility of the owner / agent to apply for the CCC within 2 years of the building consent being granted. The application must be made when they consider the project to be completed. If this application has not been made within the 2 year timeframe, the Council must make a decision to issue, or not issue, the CCC within 20 days of this date. If the 2 year timeframe is approaching and it is unlikely that the project will be completed on time, then the owner / agent can apply for an extension using the extension of time application form.  This application must be made before the 2 years is up.

Designer's Responsibilities

The New Zealand Building Act 2004, Section 45 (3) (c) requires that all design work complies with the Building Code; or where waivers or modifications of the Building Code are required, to state what those waivers or modifications are. All plans and specifications attached to an application for a building consent must meet the requirements of this legislation. This includes all design work whether the designer is an owner, builder, draughtsperson, architect or engineer.

  • If the designer is a Registered Architect, the designer is required by the Registered Architects Rules 2006 Section 7 (2) (g) to:
    • Understand and comply with the applicable New Zealand statutory and regulatory requirements. (Also refer to the Registered Architects Act 2005). In New Zealand the statutory and regulatory requirements for building work are defined by the New Zealand Building Act 2004 and associated regulations which include the New Zealand Building Code. 
  • If the designer is a Chartered Professional Engineer, the designer is required by the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act 2002 and its associated rules and code of conduct, to
    • Operate within their scope of their registered expertise (refer to the IPENZ register of Chartered Professional Engineers).   Part 3, Section 43 of the Act defines the Code of Ethical Conduct - General Obligations to Society
    • Take reasonable steps to safeguard health and safety of people. The New Zealand Building Code defines the minimum building performance standards to ensure the health and safety of people. 
  • If the designer is a Registered Architect or a CPENG Engineer or a licensed building practitioner, it is their responsibility to supply the owner and the council with a copy of the Certificate of Design Work if they are doing or supervising design work that is restricted building work. If they are providing any onsite supervision of construction then they must also provide a Record of Work, if this work involves restricted building work. 

The Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 Section 7 (1) requires that goods provided to a client be fit for purpose.  Non-compliant plans and specifications are not fit for the purpose of obtaining a Building Consent or for constructing a building that will meet the requirements of the Building Act and the Building Code.

Builder's Responsibilities

The builder is responsible for constructing the building according to the approved building consent plans, specifications and other documentation. The building must be inspected at the stages specified in the Building Consent. If the work is restricted building work then the tradesperson must work within the competency of their LBP license and must provide the owner and the council with a copy of the Record of Work that covers the restricted building work that they were doing or supervising.

Illegal Work

If non-exempt building work has been done without a Building Consent, you may:

  • Receive an Infringement Notice and be fined; or
  • Receive a Notice to Fix to make the work compliant with the Building Code; or
  • Have to remove all illegal work; or
  • Have trouble selling the property or getting insurance pay outs.

Property Files

As the requirements for recording all building work are becoming increasingly important when it comes to the sale and insuring of a property, your Council is happy to receive notification, reports and plans of any building work undertaken even though exempt under the Building Act 2004.  This information will be filed on the appropriate property file held at Council.

Further Information

For further information about exempted building work, or if you are uncertain whether the work you wish to undertake is exempted, please contact your local Council. The Building Act can be viewed for free from The link to Schedule 1 is found towards the end of the contents page for the Building Act.

See also information about LIM's (Land Information Memorandum)

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Page last updated: 2016-07-07

Hauraki Matamata Piako Waitomo Otorohanga Waipa Waikato Hamilton