Commercial Buildings  (PDF 193kb)

New commercial or industrial buildings, and alterations (unless exempt under Schedule 1) will require a Building Consent.  Commercial, public or multi-unit residential buildings have additional requirements under the Building Act, to ensure they remain safe for occupants and for the public. See also Certificate for Public Use.

Council must be satisfied that any proposed alterations or new building work meets requirements for factors such as:

The full list of the Building Code compliance documents is available free from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website (

Access and Facilities for Persons with Disabilities

Buildings for which members of the public are to be admitted, whether for free or on payment of a charge must be accessible for people with disabilities (Building Act 2004 Section 118 (1)). Schedule 2 (of the Building Act) lists additional buildings which must also be accessible. Whether undertaking alterations, upgrading or changing the use of an existing building, access and parking provisions, and sanitary facilities of the entire building are required to be upgraded as nearly as is reasonably practicable, to the same extent as if it were a new building. This is to ensure people with disabilities are able to enter and carry out normal activities and functions within buildings.

Fire Safety

Fire safety in a commercial building is assessed under the Building Code. Buildings (other than single residential buildings) that contain automatic systems for fire suppression (or any other specified system) require a Compliance Schedule and annual Warrant of Fitness.


The requirements for Signs in the Building Code aim to safeguard people in buildings, and improve access; by providing signage that clearly identifies hazards, escape routes, access and facilities for people with disabilities. Recent changes make signage more universally understood, and improve safety.

Change of Use

An owner of a building must give written notice to the Council if they propose to change the use of a building, or extend the life of a building with a specified intended life. The Council needs to check that the new building work complies with the Building Code as far as reasonably possible in the areas that are being altered. A change in use may require upgrading of safety features, accessibility and disability facilities within the existing buildings, as different provisions exist for different types of buildings. 

Structural Design

Structural design must achieve the requirements of the Building Code. It is recommended that you engage specialists for the design and construction of the proposed building work. Any building work outside the Building Code B1 Acceptable Solution will require specific design by a specialist engineer. Council may require that the design is peer-reviewed to confirm the structural design of the proposed building work complies with the requirements of the relevant structural standards.

Earthquake Resistance

Public buildings and large residential buildings are to be assessed for earthquake resistance. The Earthquake-prone buildings policies of each of the Councils in the Waikato Building Consent Group can be viewed on the link below. 

Lift Requirements

A proposal for a lift must meet the relevant performance requirements of the Building Code and be listed on the building's Compliance Schedule. If the 'use' or 'occupant load' changes, the building will be assessed to determine whether it complies for lift requirements.

Hazardous Substances / Dangerous Goods

If you intend to use or store Hazardous Substances or Dangerous Goods on-site you will be required to comply with the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO), Building Act 2004 and the Building Code. 

Trade Waste

Trade waste must be collected, held, treated and disposed of in a way that safeguards people from injury or illness caused by infection or contamination resulting from industrial liquid waste. Trade waste is any liquid that is discharged from a trade's premise to a Council's wastewater system in the course of any trade or industrial process.  Please check with your local Council to find out about the local trade waste bylaws.

Food Premises

A new food premise may require Resource Consent, Building Consent, trade waste and food premises registration. All premises used for the manufacture, preparation, packing or storage of food for sale to the public must be registered by Council under the Food Hygiene Regulations 1974, or hold a Food Control Plan or Risk Management Plan approved by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) before food can be sold to the public. Please contact your local Council for further information.

Sanitary Facilities

Buildings must have appropriate spaces and sanitary facilities for personal hygiene. A change of use that increases an occupant load of a building, or type of use of a building, may require additional sanitary facilities.

Staged Consents and when they can be used

Section 44(2) states that a building consent may be staged, that is it can be split up into a series of building consent applications. This may be useful where the scope of the work can be clearly defined in each case. For example:

  • Large multi-storey buildings
  • Multi-unit apartments or development blocks
  • Large public buildings such as shopping malls and hospitals
  • Site works, foundations and drainage, with the balance of work completed under a separate stage (this situation might occur where it is desirable to start the project early but where plans and calculations have not been completed for the balance of the work)

More information on staged consents.

Use by the Public

Anyone constructing or altering a commercial building intended for public use (referred to as a premise) may need to apply for a Certificate for Public Use (CPU).  A CPU is required if you want to open the premise prior to obtaining a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC), and certifies that premises (or part of the premises) affected by building work is safe to be used by members of the public.  Certificates for Public Use do not relieve the owner of a building from the obligation to apply for a CCC which must be obtained before the expiry date of the CPU.

Compliance Schedules & Building Warrants of Fitness (BWOF's)

Under the Building Act 2004, owners of commercial buildings are responsible for keeping their building's safety systems and features in good working order, and to provide Council with an annual Building Warrant of Fitness. 

An Applicant's Checklist for Commercial Buildings is also available from any of the Councils in the Waikato Building Consent Group, or can be downloaded

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Page last updated: 2016-05-26

Hauraki Matamata Piako Waitomo Otorohanga Waipa Waikato Hamilton