Build Waikato

Heaters/Fire Places

New and replacement freestanding and inbuilt heaters require a Building Consent. The installation must be checked and approved by a Building Officer BEFORE the first fire is lit. 

The Ministry for the Environment has regulations that must be followed in regards to the control of emissions and the efficiency of all types of solid fuel burning appliances. Solid fuel heaters and fireplaces are the main cause of domestic air pollution in most New Zealand towns and cities. Design standards assist in limiting emissions of harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, toxins, and dioxins. The standards apply to all new solid fuel heaters installed in urban areas.

Make sure that the appliance you choose complies with the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality Regulations 2004. The National list of authorised wood burners is available from the Ministry for the Environment website. If the heater you want is not on that list, obtain a test certificate that shows the heater complies with the building standards AS / NZS 4012:1999 and AS / NZS 4013:1999. Provide this certificate to Council at the time that you submit your application for a building consent.

You are exempt from these regulations if your heater is:

  • A multi-fuel heater
  • A stove designed and used for cooking
  • Your property is larger than two hectares
  • Or your heater was installed prior to 2005 (unless reinstalled).

You are still able to install and operate open fires, multi-fuel burners, pellet fires, and wood or coal stoves unless the District Plan of your local Council prevents this. Further information can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

Make sure that you have

  • Completed the application form and applicant checklist in full – (if your local Council takes online applications, these are embedded in the system)
  • Checked that all the information required has been provided. If this information is not provided your application cannot be lodged
  • Provide clear details of the flue and flue penetrations through all surfaces including the roof, ceiling, and upper floors have been provided.

Checked the flue height above the roof is indicated and that it meets the height requirements set out in AS / NZS 2918:2001 Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Installation

Inbuilt Heaters

Once the Building Consent has been issued, you will need to arrange for an inspection of the existing fireplace BEFORE the new appliance is installed. The Officer will check that

  • The chimney and fireplace are structurally sound and suitable for the new heater, and that any gaps or holes in the fireplace have been adequately sealed.
  • The existing hearth is sound and that the width meets the heater manufacturer’s specifications.

If the current fireplace and chimney are constructed of masonry (brickwork) then the Officer will check its double thickness, unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer. The fireplace must NOT be used until an Officer checks it meets all the requirements.

Free Standing Heaters

Once the Building Consent has been issued, and the heater installed, you will need to arrange an inspection of the new heating appliance to ensure compliance with the manufacturer’s specifications and the approved plans. This inspection MUST happen prior to the heater being used.


The hearth (the fireproof area directly in front of a fireplace) must provide protection of the floor from the physical hazards of falling embers, as well as downward heat radiation from the appliance. The fixing and materials of the hearth should be strictly as required by the manufacturer.

Wall Clearance

The space between the appliance and the wall must take into account both short and long-term temperature effects. The distance may only be reduced if a flue screen or a heat shield is used between the appliance and the wall. Materials for heat screens may include sheet metal, bricks, suitable mineral board or a test combination of these three. There must be a gap at the top and bottom of the shield to allow air to circulate behind it. Please check the manufacturer’s specifications.

Ceiling Flues

The main flue and flue shields passing through the ceiling and floor must be clear of all ceiling and roof timbers. Structural members (for example beams, rafters or trusses) must NOT be cut to allow penetration of the flue or flue shields.

Earthquake Protection

Inbuilt and free standing heaters must be secured to prevent seismic movement (earthquake). To achieve this it is recommended that the heater is bolted to the hearth or to the fireplace base.

Wetback Installation

If the heater has a wetback which is to be connected to a hot water system you are required to have the work carried out by a registered craftsman plumber. Check that the existing or new cylinder is suitable for connection with a wetback, has a tempering valve fitted and is open vented.

Smoke Detectors

No matter how minor the work carried out on a dwelling if it requires a Building Consent the whole dwelling must be upgraded with smoke detectors in order to comply with the Building Code. Smoke detectors must be located:

  • On the escape routes on all levels within the dwelling.
  • Located in either every sleeping space or within 3 metres of every sleeping space door, so that the alarm is audible to occupants on the other side of a closed door.

Smoke alarms are to be installed on or near the ceiling, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The smoke detectors may be battery powered and are not required to be interconnected. In addition, they must provide a hush facility with a minimum duration of 60 seconds. 

Insist on a fully-tested model.

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation and usage. Ask for assistance if there are any points you are unsure of.
  • The manufacturers specified clearances for framing timber and combustible materials must be adhered to.
  • Only use the fuel for which the appliance was designed.
  • Regularly clean all freestanding and inbuilt heating appliances, including flue pipes and chimneys, and check for soundness.
  • Emission standards must be adhered to.
  • All heaters, both inbuilt and free-standing, must be secured to prevent movement during an earthquake