Building Consents FAQ

Below are questions and answers related to building consents, please contact us if you have any further enquires.

Frequently asked questions

What is a building consent?

A building consent is the formal approval issued by a BCA verifying that the work you have described in the plans, specification and other supporting information will, if built in accordance with that documentation, meet the requirements of the New Zealand Building Act, Building Regulations and Building Code.  Most building work requires a building consent, but some minor work is exempt under the Act. Exempt work is listed on Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004.

When is a building consent required?

A building consent is required for most work including:

  • swimming pools, spa pools and fencing,
  • retaining walls over 1.5 m high (no surcharge),
  • retaining walls any height incurring a surcharge,
  • decks over 1.5 m high,
  • freestanding non-habitable buildings larger than 10 m2,
  • most new plumbing and drainage work,
  • relocation,
  • additions and alterations to existing buildings,
  • new buildings,
  • heating, including fireplaces, ventilation and air-conditioning systems,
  • installing or removing specified systems.

There are some exemptions. Check the Building consent exemption tool to see if your project meets the criteria. 

If you are unsure if your project requires a building consent, you should check with a competent designer, plumber or builder.

How long does it take to get a building consent?

The Building Act requires that a building consent is granted within 20 working days of being accepted. If information is deficient, the time clock is stopped and a formal request will be made for further information. The time clock is not restarted until the requested information is received. Incomplete applications may be refused and returned to the applicant.

The period between 20 December and 10 January each year is classified as non-working days with regards to the 20 day clock.

How do I apply for a building consent?

You will need to fully complete an application form and provide the information that is relevant to your building project. If you are unsure how to complete a form, you should seek the help of a competent design professional or refer to the application guide. Where the work involves restricted building work, you must provide a Memorandum (Certificate of Design Work) from the design licensed building practitioner (LBP). Council is unable to accept building consents with restricted work without these certificates. If you have a particularly large or complex project, we suggest that you make a time to come and see us to discuss the project to establish if any other information is required. Building consents are applied for online. Alternatively, individual forms can be download from our website.

Useful Links:

Once you have compiled all the necessary information, you can apply online, post or email the application to Building Services or deliver it to our Council Service Centre with your deposit. On receipt of your application, it will be assigned for checking by a vetting officer. Vetting is for the purposes of establishing if the required information has been provided. Vetting will be undertaken within 2 working days from the application being received.

Does my consent expire?

Once your building consent has been issued and you have not started work within 12 months, your consent will lapse and be of no effect. This means that you will have to reapply for a new consent. If you cannot start work within the 12 months, please come and see us to discuss your plans and we may grant an extension of time.

What sort of information do I need?

Building consent applications can be complex; we recommend that you engage a competent design professional to help with the design work and drawings. Remember if the work involves restricted work, that work must be designed by an LBP. Each application must be accompanied by:

  • plans
  • specifications
  • engineering calculations (if applicable)
  • wall bracing calculations (if applicable)
  • deposit
  • record of title (previously referred to as computer registers or certificates of title)
  • certificates from the design LBPs.

How much will it cost?

This depends on the type of application, the cost of work involved and the level of detail provided. Our charges are based on the length of time it takes to process an application and include costs, such as:

  • levies payable to the Ministry of Building, Innovation & Employment (payable on all applications $20,444 and over)
  • levies payable to BRANZ (payable on all applications $20,000 and over)
  • time spent processing the application
  • number of inspections required (type and number vary depending on the project)
  • issue of code compliance certificate
  • issue of compliance schedule (if applicable)
  • a portion of the fees may be refunded on receipt of written confirmation that the work is not going to proceed.

How is my application processed?

All applications, regardless of how they are received, are put through a formal checking (vetting) process. The vetting process is not a technical check it is merely a check to see if all information has been provided. Your application may be rejected at this time if insufficient information has been provided. The 20 working day clock will start when the application is accepted as complete. If a request for further information (RFI) is sent, the 20 working day clock is stopped and processing is suspended until this information is provided. Once the requested information is received in full processing will recommence and the consent will be granted by the BCA. An invoice is generated for the balance of the fees payable (inspections, code compliance certificate, etc). Upon payment of these fees, the consent will be issued.

National Multiuse approvals

The Ministry of Building, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) has provided a form of pre-approval for some types of building work. If you intend to use a design that has a national multiuse approval, you should explain this in your application. The BCA must process a national multiuse approval within 10 working days. You must provide copies of the certificates issued by MBIE with your application.

How will I be notified?

When your application is ready for issue (or refused issue) and all fees are paid, your building consent will be emailed to the contact person nominated on the application form. If there are outstanding fees, you will receive an invoice advising you that your building consent is ready and will be issued when all fees are paid. If your application has been refused, an email will be sent advising you the reason/s why your application has been refused.

What are building consent conditions?

There may be conditions imposed on your building consent that are deemed necessary to ensure compliance. For example, a condition may be placed in the building consent if you are building over 2 allotments of land that are not on the same title and will prevent building works from commencing until a certificate issued under section 77 of the Building Act 2004 has been registered with Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) by a lawyer or solicitor.