Do I need a building consent?

Last updated: 28 Jun, 2023 07:14pm

Although nearly all building work requires a building consent to be obtained before starting work there is some work that you can do without a building consent. 

The Building Act 2004 is the legislation that applies to building work in the first case.

About the Act

The Building Act describes building work, noting that the description includes some types of design and supervision.

 building work

(a) means work—

(i) for, or in connection with, the construction, alteration, demolition, or removal of a building; and

(ii) on an allotment that is likely to affect the extent to which an existing building on that allotment complies with the building code; and

(b) includes sitework;

Building consents

The Building Act describes a building consent as:

building consent means a consent to carry out building work granted by a building consent authority

A Building Consent Authority is the Council building control team. Building work also includes plumbing, drainage, and, sometimes, electrical work.

Generally, when you intend to do some building work, it is safer to assume you require a consent unless you can clearly establish that you don’t.

In the first instance you should talk to a local designer or builder to get their view.

Visit the Can I Build It website for more information about deciding if you require consent or not.

Download Building work that does not require a building consent – Exemptions Guidance for Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 for further information.

It is important to note that even where you seek advice from other parties, the Building Act places the obligation on the building owner to obtain consents where required.

Not obtaining a consent where one is required can create a range of issues for building owners and can create a problem in the future.

Key points to consider

  • All building work must comply with the building code to the extent required by this Act, whether or not a building consent is required in respect of that building work.
  • In some cases, although you may get a building consent you may need approvals under other legislation such as the resource management Act or permits under council bylaws before starting work.
  • An exemption from the need to obtain a building consent 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.