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Do I Need Building Consent?

If you are carrying out building work you may need to apply for a building consent.

Here are some examples of work that requires a consent:

  • any structural building including new buildings, additions, alterations, accessory buildings (sheds), and re-piling
  •  plumbing and drainage
  •  demolition or relocation of existing structures
  •  heating (fireplaces), ventilation and air conditioning systems
  •  siteworks for a building
  •  retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres, or retaining walls with a building or driveway near the top
  •  fences higher than 2.5 metres and any swimming pool fence
  •  swimming pools decks more than 1.5 metres from ground level.

All building work must comply with the Building Act 2004 and the Building Code .

The Act and the Code are legally binding and if you breach them or don’t obtain a building consent you may face penalties.

Building work that does not require a building consent

Section 41 and the first schedule of the Building Act 2004 describes building work which may be carried out without a building consent. It is updated regularly by the Department of Building and Housing with a wider range of building work being exempted.

The full list of exempt building work can be found here.

Important note

An exemption does not, of itself, permit building work if that building work would be in breach of any other act e.g. exempt building work may still require planning approval. All exempt building work is required to comply with the Building Code.

Some examples of exempt building work are:

  • replacing a hot water cylinder
  •  minor drainage work that does not affect the connection to the public system
  •  replacing windows so long as it doesn’t affect the structural stability of the building
  •  changes to entrance and doorways to improve accessibility so long as it doesn’t affect the structural stability of the building
  •  changes to timber framed internal walls so long as it doesn’t affect the structural stability of the building
  •  walls and fences under 2.5 metres high
  •  decks under 1.5 metres high.

Further information

You can find some additional information about building consents at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website