The Building Act 2004 (Sections 114 and 115) requires that if a building owner intends to change the use of a building, the Council must be notified in writing before any changes take place. The Council needs to check that the building in its new use complies with the Building Code as near as reasonably practical in the areas where the use is being changed. A change in use may require the upgrading of safety features, accessibility and disability facilities within the existing buildings, as different provisions exist for different types of building use. As a consequence, a building consent may be required.
When is a Change, a Change of Use?
- If the old use and the new use are in the same “Use” Category, there is no Change of Use. Refer to Schedule 2 of the Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2005.
- If they are in different use categories AND the building code compliance requirements for the new use are higher, then there is a Change of Use and the council must be notified.
Examples where a Change of Use is not required:
- Changing from a higher risk commercial occupancy to a lower risk one (no increase in fire safety systems required)
- Converting a retail outlet to a warehouse for low combustible materials (where there is no increase of fire safety systems required).
- Changing a business office to a hairdressing shop. This is not a Change of Use as they are both in the same “use” category of WL (Working Low). But in order to create the salon, alterations will need to be carried out and a building consent may be required.
- Conversion of an attached garage or basement into a habitable space such as a bedroom is not a change of use as it is already part of the house.
- Conversion of a detached garage to a habitable space such as a sleep-out is not a change of use as they are both SH (Sleeping Single Home). However, it would be wise for the owner to consider meeting the Building Code requirements for a habitable space, especially in the following areas:
- A damp proof membrane under the slab or a suitable waterproof topping on the slab.
- Finished floor level in relation to ground (requires 225mm to natural ground or 150mm to a paved surface), or adequate waterproofing membrane to walls.
- Insulation of walls (including joinery) and roof space to meet building code requirements.
- Appropriate underlay to both roof and wall cladding.
- Structural considerations:
- Bracing to walls (calculated as if there is no existing bracing)
- Trusses at max 1200mm centres.
- Windows and door openings (air seals/flashings etc.)
Note: Please be aware that if you do decide to do any alterations to the existing building, the alterations may require a building consent. See: Additions and alterations
Approval to Proceed with Change
Before approving a Change of Use
- The Council will need to be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the building, in its new use, will comply as nearly as is reasonably practicable, with Building Code requirements for the new use.
- If alterations are needed in order to achieve compliance, the Council must consider if a building consent is required or whether the work is exempt from a building consent under Schedule 1 of the Building Act.
In all cases, whether building consent is needed or not, the entire building must continue to comply with the Building Code to the extent that it did before the alteration or change of use.
If you are thinking about alterations/building works that will change the use of an existing building you should talk to your local Council to see if a Building Consent (and/or Resource Consent) is required, or what is needed to comply with building provisions. This should be done at an early stage to avoid any delays.
- Change of Use meeting the requirements under section 115 of the Building Act 2004 – A guide for Christchurch City Council temporary business and housing relocations.
- MBIE Determinations on Change of Use.
- Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2005, Schedule 2 Uses of all or parts of buildings
- Building Consent Application Form (Form 2) & guide – use these to apply for a building consent (BC)
- Applicant Checklists – use Dwelling Projects checklist OR if applicable Commercial Buildings checklist (submit this to Council with your BC application)