What is a Building Consent?
A Building Consent is a formal approval from a building consent authority to carry out building work in accordance with the approved plans and specifications. A building consent authority must grant a building consent if it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the provisions of the building code would be met if the building work were properly completed in accordance with the plans and specifications that accompanied the application. Building Act 2004, (section 7, section 49).
NOTE: A Building Consent can only be obtained from an accredited and registered Building Consent Authority (BCA). The WBCG Councils have all been accredited by International Audit New Zealand (IANZ) and registered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE). Therefore these Councils are authorised to process your application for a building consent, inspect the building project during various stages and certify the work at the completion of the project.
If a Building Consent is required, NO physical building work can be started until the Council has issued a Building Consent, (and Resource Consent if applicable). If a resource consent is also needed but not yet obtained, the Council must issue a Section 37 certificate, that states that until the resource consent has been obtained –
- no building work may proceed;
- or building work may only proceed to the extent stated in the certificate.
If you start any site or building work before this, it is illegal building work and you are liable for a fine. Illegal building work will not be signed off at CCC, instead, the owner will have to apply for a separate Certificate of Acceptance for this work, and pay additional fees on top of any fines. The legislation requires that LBPs engaged in illegal building work are reported to their governing board.
Who is responsible for applying for the Building Consent?
Usually, your designer will lodge the Building Consent application on your behalf as your agent. If the builder is also your designer they may also act as your agent. Alternatively, you can apply for the Building Consent yourself, although you will need to know how to comply with the Building Code to do so.
If you are an Owner-Builder, and your project is a dwelling (restricted building work), please read the information on Owner-Builder Exemptions.
Please note that if your designer/builder acts as your agent, you (the Owner) are ultimately responsible for ensuring an application for Building Consent for the proposed building work is lodged to a Building Consent Authority (Council).
Before you apply for a Building Consent it is a good idea to go to Council and apply for a Project Information Memorandum (PIM). A PIM is a report issued by the Council and includes information that the Council considers relevant to the proposed building work. Information in the PIM may affect your planning and design which is why you should obtain one before applying for the Building Consent. However, getting a PIM is voluntary.
How to apply for the building consent
Follow these steps:
- Download the building consent application form and the applicant checklist that is appropriate for the type of project. Get your designer or agent to complete both forms in full (See Application Forms).
- Collect all the documents that are requested in the applicant checklist, making sure that each document has the level of detail requested in the applicant checklist.
- Check to see if your council requires a pre-application meeting. If they do, then book an appointment. At this meeting, they do a quick check to see if you have your documentation ready to submit. If it is not ready they will give you a memo listing what you need to complete before submitting the application.
- Submit the application to the council and pay any fees that are due at this time. The application documentation is then checked to see if it is complete. If any information is missing, the application will not be lodged until this information is provided.
- If Council has accepted your application for processing, it is lodged in the computer system and the processing clock starts at the date the application was last submitted (if multiple submissions). The Council has up to 20 working days to process the application.
NOTE: If you have mailed, emailed, or made an online application (online: Matamata-Piako) and documentation is missing or not up to standard, your application will be held until you have provided the required information (within a given timeframe). Council will contact you in regards to further information that is required, but your application cannot be lodged for processing until this information is received.
The fees will be calculated and a deposit may be required when you lodge your application and the remainder paid prior to consent granting. Some Councils may require all fees paid at lodgement. Fees are based on the value of the project, project type, charges for inspections including mileage, MBIE levy, BRANZ levy, accreditation levy and document archive fees (a copy must be kept for the life of the building). Refer to your Council’s Fees & Charges list.
Preparing the Plans and Specifications
The documentation must show how the performance requirements of the Building Code will be met. The clearer the documentation, the less likely problems will occur. If during processing the plans and specifications are found to be inadequate, further information will be requested and this will halt the application processing until the information is provided.
Specifications must be specific to the building project and be provided as part of the Building Consent application. Specifications that are not specific to the project will be rejected. If the requested information is not provided or if the officer is still not satisfied that the plans and specifications meet the performance standards of the NZ Building Code and the requirements of the Building Act 2004, they can refuse to grant and issue the Building Consent.
Good planning and documentation saves time and provides a solid foundation for everyone involved in the building process. We recommend the use of a professional building consultant, draftsperson or architect. To give your designer an indication of the level of detail expected, refer them to the processing checklists used by our officers (see designer’s responsibility, section 14D of the Building Act 2004).
It is important that your designer takes the time to check that all the necessary information is included on the plans. If the information is missing the application may be rejected or the processing of the Building Consent delayed (the 20 working day processing clock stops) until this information is provided by the applicant.
Also, view the following guide to applying for a building consent (residential buildings) on the MBIE website.