When do I need a building consent?

Trying to navigate the world of building consent can be daunting. Do you need one? How do you go about getting one? Can you do the work yourself or do you need to hire a professional? First of all, what is building consent? A building consent is issued by your local council after reviewing the plans for work, yet to be undertaken, but has been deemed that once complete it will comply with the New Zealand Building Code. A registered professional is needed to provide the required information for your building project to meet the performance criteria of the New Zealand Building Code. The Building Code contains a set of minimum standards for the design and construction of new buildings, and for alterations and additions to existing buildings. Broadly speaking, you will need to acquire building consent for any of the following projects:

  • Structural building - including additions, alterations, re-piling and some demolitions
  • Plumbing and drainage where an additional sanitary fixture is created (some repair and maintenance may be exempt, you can check out Schedule 1 here for more details)
  • Relocating a building
  • Installing a wood burner or air-conditioning system
  • Retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres (3.0 metres in a rural area if designed by a chartered professional engineer)
  • Fences or walls higher than 2.5 metres, and all swimming pools and their associated fences
  • Decks, platforms or bridges more than 1.5 metres above ground level
  • Sheds greater than 30 square metres in floor area (sheds between 10 and 30 square metres will still need the help of an LBP or engineer or must use lightweight material in accordance with Acceptable Solution (B1/AS1)
  • Some earthworks

If you are planning any sort of construction project, it is important to first check whether or not you need building consent. Failing to obtain building consent where one is required may result in serious consequences, including having to remedy the works at your own expense, or even demolition of the unlawful work. Applying for building consent is relatively straightforward, understanding what documents and compliance items need to be addressed is where it gets complex. Your architectural designer will take care of producing documentation, specification and more, including submitting your project for council review. The local council may ask for further information in some areas in order for them to fully understand the work before they approve the submitted documents.

Typically, a design professional will manage the full building consent process and organise all supplementary files and applications required as part of the work they have been engaged for. Typically, once you have building consent for the work intended to be carried out, it is important to understand any conditions of your building consent before you engage with a builder to undertake the construction phase of the design.

Want to hear more? Modal Architecture is a local architectural design firm specialising in high-performance, sustainable, and lifestyle homes around New Zealand. If you want to find out more - get in touch below to discuss this article or your upcoming project.

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