Other useful information

Below is some more useful information. If you need any further help or advice please contact the Building Team by phone on 03 433 0300, by email at building@waitaki.govt.nz, or drop in and see us at 20 Thames Street, Oamaru.

Tiny Houses on Wheels and other mobile or semi-mobile habitable buildings used for permanent accommodation.

Tiny houses are defined as houses around 18 to 20sq m, although some measure 35sq m. Built mostly on wheels, they are billed as the affordable answer to ballooning housing costs. Having a tiny house on wheels (THOW) does not necessarily exempt it from requiring a building consent.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) have had many determinations regarding THOW's and have a well-established view on when they are a building.

All building work requires building consent unless specifically exempted under the Building Act 2004

(BA). The BA defines a building as "a temporary or permanent movable or immovable structure...." Further to this, a building includes a vehicle that may be occupied on a long-term or permanent basis. Therefore, in order to ascertain whether the THOW requires building consent a couple of questions need to be asked.

Firstly, is it a vehicle?

The Land Transport Act 1998 defines a vehicle as "a contrivance equipped with wheels, tracks, or revolving runners on which it moves or is moved...." and a motor vehicle as a "means a vehicle drawn or propelled by mechanical power...." and "includes a trailer....". It is important to note that having wheels and being transportable does not automatically make a THOW a vehicle. To be a vehicle the THOW must also have the characteristics of a vehicle e.g. brakes, suspension, lights and be (and remain) warranted and registered for use on the road.

Secondly, if the THOW is a vehicle, is it immovable or occupied on a long-term or permanent basis?

The BA includes in its definition of a building, a vehicle or motor vehicle "that is immovable and is occupied by people on a permanent or long-term basis....". Therefore, if the structure can be defined as a vehicle, it may still be considered a building under the building act if it is immovable or occupied on a long-term or permanent basis.

As this must be taken on a case by case basis, anyone wishing to construct a tiny house should consult with the Council. If the tiny house is constructed as a vehicle then it must meet NZTA requirements. If there is gas, plumbing, electrical work then these are all subject to their own regulations and must be carried out and certified by licensed tradespeople. If it is intended for permanent or semi-permanent accommodation (habitable structure) then a Building Consent is required. Again, if there is gas, plumbing, electrical work then these are all subject to their own regulations and must be carried out and certified by licensed tradespeople. In both cases gasfitters will still need to issue a CoC and/or a GSC when carrying out work on a THOW.

Plumbers and gasfitters should ensure that the owner of a THOW has obtained the necessary building consent (if required) before beginning any work. If a building consent is not available or has not been obtained, the tradespeople involved are advised to check with the Council Building Office.

Further to this, when working on a THOW, you may find that the acceptable solutions under the Building Act 2004 don't cover the particular situation. In this case, you may have to look into an alternative solution in order to complete the work in a safe and compliant manner. Alternative solutions are at the discretion of the Building Consent Authority.

More information about tiny homes can be found in MBIE tiny house guidance document

Information about the District Plan and District Plan rules can be found on our District Plan page.


Fencing of properties

Note that any dispute in this regard is a civil matter and NOT a Council matter.

Under the Fencing Act 1978 which was ratified again as of March 2017, a property owner is entitled to build a permanent fence on their property boundary. Where such a fence is constructed between two privately owned properties, (i.e. straddles the boundary line) consultation with the neighbour is required.

Subject to the provisions of this Act, and to any order of the court made under this Act, the occupiers of adjoining lands not divided by an adequate fence are liable to contribute in equal proportions to work on a fence.

If a property owner elects to construct and pay for a fence ENTIRELY on their side of the boundary line, then the adjoining neighbours approval is not required.

The form and construction of a fence is at the discretion of the property owner(s), however there is an expectation that the fence shall be adequate for the purpose. (e.g. a solid fence should be sufficiently robust to resist the wind forces expected in that zone.)

The operative Waitaki Council District Plan allows a Fence to be constructed to a height of 2 metres above original Ground level as a permitted activity. A fence of this height (or less) does not require a consent.

Note that it is important that the actual boundary should be established accurately. If the legal survey pegs cannot be found, then a surveyor should be engaged for this purpose. If a Land Use or Building consent is required, Council Officers will need to sight the boundary pegs.



If the fence is greater than 2 metres in height on the boundary of two adjoining privately owned lots, this may be deemed as a Permitted Boundary Activity provided that a written, signed approval is received from the affected neighbour on the Council prescribed form. An application to Council is also required on the Council prescribed form. Attached to the application should be a site plan and details of the construction of the fence.

If the fence is greater than 2 metres in height on a boundary between a privately-owned lot and any publicly owned parcel of land, a Land-use Resource Consent is required. An application to Council is required. Attached to the application should be a site plan and details of the construction of the fence


If the fence is greater than 2.5 metres in height an Application for Building Consent is required IN ADDITION to the planning requirements outlined above. Attached to the Building Consent Application should be a site plan and details of the construction of the fence.

Storm water drainage and disposal requirements

Under the NZ Building Code, Clause E1, it is a requirement of all property owners to control and dispose of the storm water (surface water/natural rainfall) collected on their property.

This does NOT include storm water that is part of natural and original overland flows.

Note however, that where a property owner modifies the original ground levels to control storm water on their own property, they may not do so in such a way that the discharge from these modifications create a nuisance to adjoining properties. Modifications also include structures such as buildings and fences that may impede natural over land flows.

The NZ Building Code, clause E1.1 Objective states:

The objective of this provision is to:

  • (a) Safeguard people from injury or illness, and other property from damage, caused by surface water.
  • (b) Protect the out falls of drainage systems.

The NZ Building Code, clause E1.2 Functional Requirement states:

Buildings and site work shall be constructed in a way that protects people and other property from the adverse effects of surface water.

The NZ Building Code, clause E1.3.1 Performance states:

Except as otherwise required under the Resource Management Act 1991 for the protection of other property, Surface water, resulting from an event having a 10% probability of occurring annually and which is collected or concentrated by buildings or site work, shall be disposed of in a way that avoids the likelihood of damage or nuisance to other property.

The critical point of clause E1.3.1 refers to storm water that is Collected and/or Concentrated. This is rain water collected on a roof or hardstand driveway. This water must be disposed of within the property boundaries or to a Council approved watercourse or water table.

It must not be discharged over a neighbouring property boundary unless there is a legal easement to do so.

Supplementary heat sources (Wet backs and Solar Hot Water) and the risk of Legionnaires' Disease.

Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia - lung inflammation usually caused by infection. Legionnaires' disease is caused by a bacterium known as legionella.

Although Legionnaires' disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body, including the heart. It is potentially very serious.

Information from Plumbers Gasfitters and Drain layers Board Technical Help Desk - Sep 12, 2018 Clause G12 of the New Zealand Building Code states that a hot water system must be capable of being controlled to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria.

A heat disinfection method is generally considered the most effective way of achieving this.

Generally, with a storage hot water cylinder (HWC) disinfection is achieved by having the water heated to 60 degrees or higher.

As 60+ degrees can cause severe burns for users (especially children) G12/ASl requires that the temperature of the water at any Sanitary fitting be delivered at no more than 55 degrees. (45 degrees in some more vulnerable situations). This is achieved by means of a tempering valve, which takes the 60 degrees+ water from the cylinder and injects cold water to lower it for delivery. However, there are several areas where adequate protection has been omitted or is no longer functioning.

In some circumstances, this may be due to an inadequate design, in other circumstances it may be due to a property owner tampering with the system.

One example is in a flow and return hot water system such as a ring main. Legionella bacteria may develop in the flow and return system when it is supplied with tempered water from the HWC which is less than 60 degrees.

A way to prevent legionella developing in a ring main is by installing a UV filter in the flow and return hot water system. Another way is to supply the flow and return system with un-tempered water (above 60 degrees) and then temper the water at the outlets that require it.

Another example is when a HWC has solar water heating. Generally, in this type of system an electrical element, as well as the solar water heating, is used to heat the water in the HWC.

A normal, traditional system will only require a single tempering valve at the outlet from the cylinder

However, what can sometimes happen is that the property owner may turn off the electricity to the HWC and rely solely on the solar or wetback water heating. Often the electricity is turned off in an attempt to save money, however, the risk is that the system does not heat the water adequately to prevent legionella developing.

Relocating a dwelling/building onto a site

Newly built relocatable dwellings:

All residential construction is restricted building work and requires that the work is carried out or supervised by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP). A new house built in another Councils area MUST BE consented and inspected under their process which while similar to Waitaki District Council (national rules) means that that Council will retain the documentation.

Waitaki District Council will require a copy of the Certificate of Code Compliance which that Council will issue once it is all signed off and prior to it leaving the yard. You may need to ensure that the Building Company has included a Building Consent from their Council in their contract with you. Failure to have this documentation may mean that in the event of an insurance claim, your claim may be refused by the Insurance Company.

A Consent is required from Waitaki District Council for the foundation work and the septic/drainage system. Once this work is completed, Waitaki District Council will issue a Certificate of Code Compliance for the foundations and drainage work only. The Waitaki District Council CCC does not cover the relocated dwelling itself.

WDC will collect fees and levies for the construction of components in Waitaki. Any levies payable on this basis for the construction in other districts would have already been collected by them. Note that there may be a requirement for separate applications for connections to the sewer, storm water, potable water reticulated systems and/or a vehicle crossing.

The foundation design for the relocatable must be carried out by a Licensed Building Practitioner. The House moving company should be able to do this for you as they must be LBP registered.

The Effluent disposal (Septic Tank) design must be completed by a Drainage Engineer, or a registered Drainlayer. If the house is to be connected to the Council reticulated system, a drainage layout design is required.

Application will need to be made separately to the Assets and Infrastructure Department for Potable water and sewer connections to the Council reticulated systems. Once they receive the applications, they will then quote on the physical installation connections/costs from the boundary to the Council main(s). The installation/cost of work within the boundaries is at the responsibility of the owner.

Older/existing dwelling as a relocatable

All residential construction is restricted building work requiring the services of a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP). In this scenario, foundations only. If a house is existing, no further documentation is required for the house itself.

The owner needs to be aware that the house to be relocated may have been built in a different construction zone (eg: Lower wind or earthquake requirements). If it is to be relocated into a construction zone requiring a higher standard the owner needs to take this into consideration. As this is an existing building with no supporting documentation, Waitaki District Council will accept NO responsibility for the house itself, only for the Foundations and Drainage.

A Consent is required from Waitaki District Council for the foundation work and the septic system/effluent disposal.

Electrical Requirements:

There are no requirement under the Building Act to re wire an old house, however the power company may not hook it up to the network if the wiring is substandard.

Effluent Disposal

  • Septic Tank: The Effluent disposal design must be completed by a Drainage Engineer, or a registered Drainlayer.
  • A Proposed Drainage plan is required. This should be completed by a registered Drainlayer.
  • A drainage plan must be completed by a registered Drainlayer. This is to cover both sewer and stormwater and needs to be disposed of to the Council reticulated systems, if available, or in compliance with NZ Building Code clause E1.
  • Application will need to be made separately to the Assets and Infrastructure Department for Potable water and sewer connections to the Council reticulated systems. Once they receive the applications, Council will then quote on the physical installation connections/costs from the boundary to the Council main(s). The installation/cost of work within the boundaries is at the responsibility of the owner.
  • Application will need to be made separately to the Assets and Infrastructure Department for a vehicle crossing.


No bond is required for the dwelling under the District Plan. However, if the building is to be relocated in an urban zone, the Council may require a footpath damage deposit.

Timeframes for completion:

The building work should be completed within two years. At that point Council must make a decision under the Building Act whether to grant or decline to issue a Certificate of Code Compliance. If the building work is NOT completed as per the approved Building Consent within the two-year period, you may request an extension of time to complete your project. An extension of time is at the discretion of the Council Officers.

Minimum requirement for plans submitted:

Drawings must be to scale - floor plans, elevations and/or photographs of the existing building, site plans, drawn in ink or CAD, and not on graph paper. All notes/writing must be clear and legible.

The site plan must show distances to boundaries, and outdoor living space as per the District Plan which is available on the Council website. Height recession planes must be shown.

Proximity to any natural features such as waterways, or proximity to protected features must also be shown. The Council Planning Department will be able to assist you on this, if you have difficulty.

Although the foundation design for the relocatable should be carried out by a Licensed Building Practitioner, you are permitted to do this work yourself under the owner/builder declaration scheme. Refer to Section 90 of the NZ Building Act 2004 (available on the MBIE web site). There is an expectation that you have sufficient competence to do this, and that the plans submitted are of a professional standard. The foundation plans must be supported by Bracing calculations.

Information on wastewater systems

Under the Building Act 2004 if there is a Council reticulated sewage system adjacent or within reasonable proximity to your property, then you must connect to it. If there is no reticulated sewage, then the owner is required to provide for on-site disposal of wastewater via a Septic Tank and an effluent disposal field. Any discharge to ground is under the authority of either Otago Regional Council or Environment Canterbury. As this rule is reasonably complex, it will require the owner to engage the services of a registered Drain Layer conversant with the requirements of the regional plan, or a registered Drainage Engineer, who will conduct a full assessment of the site, the proposed dwelling, the numbers of occupants and the projected volumes of wastewater to be produced.

This qualified, registered person will provide a report and their design of the system. Depending on a number of factors, the report may achieve an acceptable solution, in which case the assessment can be processed via a Building Consent Application either separately or in conjunction with a dwelling.

If the report indicates that the proposal cannot achieve an acceptable solution, then the application for the system must be processed by Regional Council as a Land-use or Resource Consent.

Some basic rules that would determine the requirement to have the application processed by the regional council:


The discharge of wastewater from a new, modified or upgraded on-site wastewater treatment system onto or into land in circumstances where a contaminant may enter water is a permitted activity, provided the following conditions are met:

1. The discharge volume does not exceed 2 m3 per day; and

2. The discharge is onto or into a site that is equal to or greater than 4 hectares in area; and

2a. The discharge is not located within an area where residential density exceeds 1.5 dwellings per hectare and the total population is greater than 1000 persons: and

3. The discharge is not onto or into land:

a. where there is an available sewerage network; or

b. that is contaminated or potentially contaminated; or

c. that is listed as an archaeological site; or

d. in circumstances where the discharge would enter any surface waterbody; or

e. within 20 m of any surface waterbody or the Coastal Marine Area; or

f. within 50 m of a bore used for water abstraction: or

g. within a Community Drinking-water Protection Zone as set out in Schedule 1; or

h. where there is, at any time, less than 1 m of vertical separation between the discharge point and groundwater: and

4. The treatment and disposal system are designed and installed in accordance with Sections 5 and 6 of New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1547:2012 – On-site Domestic Wastewater Management; and

5. The treatment and disposal system is operated and maintained in accordance with the system’s design specification for maintenance or, if there is no design specification for maintenance, Section 6.3 of New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1547:2012 - On-site Domestic Wastewater Management; and

6. The discharge does not result in wastewater being visible on the ground surface; and

7. The discharge does not contain any hazardous substance.


12.A.1.4 The discharge of human sewage through any on-site wastewater treatment system, installed after 28 February 1998, onto or into land is a permitted activity, providing:

(a) The discharge does not exceed 2000 litres per day (calculated as a weekly average); and

(b) The discharge does not occur within the A zone of any Groundwater Protection Zone, as identified on the C-series maps, nor in the area of the Lake Hayes catchment, as identified on Map B6; and

(c) The system’s disposal field is sited more than 50 metres from any surface water body or mean high water springs: and

(d) The system’s disposal field is sited more than 50 metres from any bore which:

(i) Existed before the commencement of the discharge activity; and

(ii) Is used to supply water for domestic needs or drinking water for livestock; and

(e) There is no direct discharge of human sewage, or effluent derived from it, to water in any drain or water race, or to groundwater; and

(f) Effluent from the system does not run off to any other person’s property; and 12-32 Regional Plan: Water for Otago, updated to 1 September 2015 RULES: WATER TAKE, USE AND MANAGEMENT

(g) The discharge does not cause flooding of any other person’s property, erosion, land instability, sedimentation, or property damage.

Your Drainage Engineer or other suitably qualified professional will be able to advise you further.

Conversion of a shipping container to a habitable space

Council receives a number of enquiries every year regarding the conversion of used shipping containers into a habitable dwelling or space. A habitable space must meet the requirements of the building code to ensure that it is watertight, safe and healthy for the occupants. In this regard, a Container house or habitable space will be treated by Council as no different from a conventionally built dwelling.

The pertinent clauses of the NZ Building Code are (but not necessarily limited to ):

  • Bl - Structure: The container must be on permanent, earthquake resistant foundations. Normally for a container this will be between 6 and 8 piles in 900mm deep concrete filled holes, and will be securely fastened to the base. This would usually require plates welded to the frame of the container and bolted to the piles.
  • B2 - Durability: All components are required to meet durability standards. The container would need to be painted to protect it from corrosion
  • C - Fire: Type 1 Domestic smoke alarms must be installed.
  • Dl- Access: Reasonable steps and entry decks must be constructed.
  • El- Surface water: Rainwater must be collected and discharged to an approved place here it does not cause problems for the owner or any neighbours.
  • E2 - External moisture: Rainwater must not enter the building. This means that any windows or doors cut into the building must be adequately flashed. Also, many second-hand containers have reached their useful life as far as shipping is concerned and may not be weathertight.
  • F2 - Hazardous Building materials: Safety Glass is required under NZS4223 part 3, Human Impact, for glass doors, windows into wet areas, and shower doors.
  • Gl- Personal Hygiene: Every dwelling must contain adequate ablution facilities, consisting of a shower or bath, hand wash basin and a toilet pan.
  • G3 - Food preparation: Every dwelling (excepting sleep-outs) must have facilities for the preparation and storage of food.
  • G4 & G7 - Ventilation and Natural light: Each space (room) within the container must have windows of no less than 10% of the floor area of the room for natural light and no less than 5% of the floor area of the room in opening windows for ventilation.
  • G12 - Water supplies: Adequate potable water must be provided for cooking and cleaning. Pipework for this must meet the standards for carrying potable water. ie: Garden hoses are not acceptable.
  • G13 - Foul water: All waste pipes must discharge to an approved outfall such as the Council reticulated system or to a septic tank.
  • Hl- Energy Efficiency: This applies mostly to insulation. All habitable spaces must have the following minimum levels of insulation: Under floor R1.3, , walls R1.9, Roof/ceiling R2.9. Generally, this can only be achieved in a container situation using high density polystyrene insulation products. You WILL be required to apply for a Building Consent. In addition to the application form, you must provide a site plan, floor plan, elevations and details of construction to show how you will meet code compliance as set out in the code clauses.

If a septic tank is involved, either new or connecting to an existing tank, you must demonstrate that the system can comply with the Regional Council's Plan. This may require an assessment of your site by a Registered Drainlayer or a Registered Drainage Engineer.

Converting a shipping container to a habitable space is likely to be a change of use under the Building (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2006.

More information about a change of use can be found on the MBIE website

Information about the District Plan and District Plan rules can be found on our District Plan page.



If you are proposing to build a dam, you should discuss this with Otago Regional Council. Dam means an artificial barrier and its adjoining structures that:

  • a) is constructed to hold back water or other fluid under constant pressure so as to form a reservoir,
  • b) is used for the storage, control, or diversion of water or other fluid.

A dam includes:

  • a flood control dam
  • a natural feature that has been significantly modified to function as a dam
  • a canal

A dam does not include:

  • a stop bank designed to control floodwaters.

Things you need to know if you want to put a shed in your back yard

We suggest you do some research before purchasing your shed or starting construction and talk to a member of our Building and Planning teams. We also advise you to talk to your neighbours before you begin so they are aware of your plans (their permission may also be required). Aim for a design and location which is acceptable to you and your neighbours.

In this guide, the term ‘shed’ will be used to cover a range of structures including detached buildings and roofed enclosures.

Legal aspects you need to know under the Building Act 2004 are:

  1. It is likely that the shed will be defined as a building (section 8).

  2. Construction of the shed will be building work (section 7).

  3. Some classes of building work are exempt from the need for building consent. The exemption in Schedule 1 of the Building Act that applies to sheds is exemption 3 - ‘Single‚Äźstorey detached buildings not exceeding 10 square metres in floor area’. If you want to use this exemption your shed must meet all of the following criteria:
    a. Be no more than one storey (being a floor level of up to 1m above the supporting ground and a height of up to 3.5m above the floor level).
    b. Not exceed 10m2 in floor area.
    c. Not contain sanitary facilities, such as a toilet, or facilities for the storage of potable water, such as a plumbed water supply.
    d. Not include sleeping accommodation, unless the building is used in connection with a dwelling and does not contain any cooking facilities.
    e. Be no closer than the measure of its own height to any residential building or to any legal boundary. For example, a shed with a roof of 2m at the highest point must be a minimum of 2m from a house or boundary

  4. If the shed falls outside these exemptions, a building consent will be required and possibly resource consent.

  5. Whether you need building consent or not, you must make sure the work complies with the New Zealand Building Code. While you need to comply with all relevant sections, the four most likely to be applicable for sheds are:

  • B1 Structure
  • B2 Durability
  • C Fire Documents
  • E1 Surface water

This guidance must be read in conjunction with the Building Act and Schedule 1 exemptions. Copies of the Act and exemptions, and further information, are available at www.mbie.govt.nz.

If you would like to talk to a member of the Building or Planning teams, please telephone 03 433 0300.

Second-Hand Fires

Second-hand wood burners may be granted consent where the applicant wants to move the existing woodburner within the dwelling. These are dealt with on a case to case basis. Considerations include:

  • the age of the fire
  • the make and model
  • whether it complies with today's current Air Shed and Emissions Regulations and
  • whether the flue is to be replaced (in most cases the flue must be replaced)

A Durability Waiver may be considered as a Discretionary Exemption. Please contact Council to discuss. 

Second-hand wood burners that have been purchased or obtained from a different dwelling will not be consented. To be satisfied that these burners meet the requirements of the legislation, they require certification by the manufacturer of the fire. Not only is this impractical and not cost-effective (the fire box would need to be transported to the manufacturer for testing) the manufacturers tend to not guarantee the wood burners to the satisfaction of Councils.