Find out when you need building consent, how to apply, and things you need to know before starting work on your project.
For further information, check out Building Consent Steps 1 & 2: Accepting and Processing (653KB pdf)
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See our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact us.
Before you begin
Building consent is issued by the Council to verify that proposed work meets the New Zealand Building Code 1992 and the Building Act 2004. Building work cannot begin until the building consent is issued.
Depending on your project, you may also need to apply for resource consent before you can start work.
The Building Act
Building work in New Zealand is controlled by the Building Act 2004. This legislation is designed to ensure that buildings in New Zealand are built right the first time and that appropriately skilled people design, build and inspect building work.
To achieve this, the Act requires anyone proposing to do building work to firstly obtain a building consent (BC) from a building consent authority (BCA). A BCA is the part of Council that receives, grants and issues building consents, undertakes inspections and issues code compliance certificates.
The Building Act is administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
When is a building consent required?
If you’re planning any construction, demolition or alteration work, you’ll need building consent before work can begin. Building consent is also often needed for tents or marquees, pools, fireplaces, driveways and solar panels. There are some exemptions. If in doubt, talk to us or refer to the guidance below.
If you’re planning to install a fireplace in your home you’ll need building consent. If your property is less than two hectares in lot size, you’ll need to choose a wood burner from a list approved by the Ministry for the Environment. Council does not approve building consents for second-hand wood burners unless they have been inspected by an approved engineer.
Building work that does not require a building consent
Only building work listed under Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 may be done without first obtaining a Building Consent, but the building work must still comply with the Building Code. Further information can be found in the exemption guide that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have developed.
If you are not sure whether your building work is exempt, please contact us for information and advice about exemptions and the building consent process.
Restricted building work
Building and design work relating to a building’s structure, foundations, fire safety or moisture protection is classified as ‘restricted building work’. Restricted building work currently only relates to residential buildings, and can only be carried out by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP).
Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs)
Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) are designers, carpenters, roofers, external plasterers, bricklayers and blocklayers and those who lay foundations, who are licensed under the Government's LBP scheme. No building works can start until the Council has been notified of the names and licence numbers for the trade LBPs who will be doing the work.
No restricted building works can start until Council has been notified of the names and licence numbers for the trade LBPs who will be doing the work.
Note: Registered architects and chartered professional engineers are automatically treated as Design LBPs. Licensed or certified plumbers are automatically treated as LBPs so that they are able to carry out and supervise fitting and sealing or flashing of pipe work through exterior walls and certain roofing and cladding work, in the ordinary course of their work.
The Public Register for current Licensed Building Practitioners can be found here, more information about LBP's can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website.
Building consent applications for restricted building work must include a Memorandum (Certificate of Design Work) from the LBP.
At the end of the project, each LBP is required to provide a Memorandum (Record of Building Work), which details the work the LBP carried out.
Failure to provide all the required Memorandums could result in the Council being unable to issue the final Code Compliance Certificate for the project.
Memorandum From Licensed Building Practitioner: Certificate of Design Work
Memorandum From Licensed Building Practitioner: Record of Building Work
Property Information Memorandum (PIM)
Many people apply for a PIM at the same time as building consent. This report provides information relevant to a proposed building project, and can include things like the location of services, likelihood of flooding, subsidence and ground stability.
It’s also a way to find out about any other requirements you might need for your project, such as resource consents, vehicle crossings or other issues that may affect the design and/or construction of the proposed structure.
You apply for a PIM report on the building consent application forms.
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Applying for building consent
To apply for building consent, you need to fill out the building consent application form and provide two copies of your plans and supporting documents. There are some additional requirements for commercial building consent applications, please contact us to discuss what may be required.
You can apply for building consent online at www.goshift.co.nz/apply-online.
Applying using the application form
You can download the building consent application form and the guide to completing the form below or from www.goshift.co.nz/tool-box
Building consent application form (1.12MB PDF)
Guide to completing the building consent application form (1.57MB PDF)
Your application can be lodged at any Council Service Centre, by electronic means or by mail. The application will be checked before being accepted to ensure that all of the required information is supplied.
Ensuring your application form is correct and complete
The application form has a number of parts and it is important that all the sections are completed and information is provided on how the building work will comply with the building code. Applications will not be accepted if any of the information is missing. Mail applications will be returned by mail if not accepted.
The initial check is for content of the application only. There is a more detailed check for accuracy of the information supplied during processing. Building work cannot begin until the building consent is issued.
Calculating building consent fees
A deposit or full fees will be required upon lodging the building consent. A building officer will calculate the full fees and will include the estimated number of inspections required for your project when processing the building consent application. A full list of Council's fees and charges can be downloaded from here.
If the value of your project is over $20,000.00, your fees will include levies, which we are required to collect on behalf of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ).
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Processing the consent application
Once your application has been accepted, it will be entered into our electronic processing system and given an individual number; this will be advised to you acknowledging receipt of your application. This number should be quoted whenever you write to, or contact the Council, about your building consent application. Your application will also be linked to the records for the property.
The Building Act 2004 requires Council to process a building consent application in twenty (20) working days if it has received all the required information for the proposed building work to comply with the Building Code. The “clock” starts when the consent is accepted for processing by Council.
If the application includes plans and specifications in relation to which a national multi-use approval has been issued, the processing time is ten (10) working days.
Once accepted for processing, the application is allocated to the various departments within Council for processing, ie planning, water, roading, building and drainage.
The application is checked for compliance with Council bylaws and other legislation, such as vehicle access, earthworks, water reticulation, public drainage and, in the case of commercial premises, areas such as health, trade waste, Building Warrant of Fitness and backflow prevention.
Occasionally, due to the complexity or nature of the building design or resourcing, Council may opt to use an external consultant to help with processing. In these situations the consultant is working on Council’s behalf. If there are any questions or concerns, a letter will be sent to you requesting further information/clarification. When a request for further information is sent, the “clock” is stopped until this information is provided.
There is a requirement for some applications to be sent to Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Additional fees for processing are passed on to the applicant.
In some instances, Producer Statements may be accepted as means of establishing compliance. This is generally where the work involves specific design, such as structural or fire designs.
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Issuing a building consent
Once your application has been processed and Council are satisfied on reasonable grounds that it meets all provisions of the Building Code, and all necessary fees are paid, it will be granted and a Building Consent and/or Project Information Memorandum (PIM) will be issued.
It is very important that you (and your contractors) read the building consent documentation to ensure you are clear about the requirements. Your building consent contains useful information about matters which you need to comply with while undertaking your building project.
The Building Consent Inspection Schedule will also contain a list of inspections required to be made by Council officers during the building process and a list of producer statements required from specialists. The identified specialists must provide documentation of the inspections they undertake in support of their producer statement.
Work must start on your project within twelve (12) months after the date the consent was issued. You may apply for an extension of time to start work.
If your plans change
All building work related to a building consent must be done according to the plans, specifications and detail provided with the approved building consent. If you want to change part of the project, you need to apply for an amendment to the building consent. The process of requesting an amendment is similar to the original consent. You need to provide full construction detail of any changes, so we can assess them. Council needs to approve the amendment before you can carry out any work.
Making changes to your plans (building.govt.nz)
Section 52 of the Building Act 2004 requires that a Building Consent shall “lapse and be of no further effect” if work has not commenced within 12 months after the date of issue, or any further period allowed by the Building Consent Authority.
For this reason, we send out a monitoring letter at eleven (11) months advising the nominated contact person that this point is nearing and that we have no record of the work commencing. The letter asks the contact person to either advise that work has commenced, or alternatively, apply for an extension to the 12 month period. If no response is received, the consent will be given a status of “Lapsed” meaning that a new consent will be required for any future work.
Please note: All monitoring letters (and any other correspondence) will be sent to the “first point of contact” as nominated on the building consent application. If the contact person is changed, the applicant should inform us to ensure they receive all necessary information.
Requesting more time
You can request an extension of time for a building consent if:
1. You are unable to commence work twelve (12) months from issue date of the building consent; or
2. You are unable to request a Code Compliance Certificate two (2) years after the building consent is granted.
An extension of time request to commence or complete work should be made in writing to the Team Leader Building Services, Tararua District Council, PO Box 115, Dannevirke 4942.
This may be done by the builder on the owner’s behalf, but responsibility remains the owner’s. The extension of time request should include the following information:
Note: Extension of time requests may incur an additional administration charge.
Extension of time application form (271.34KB PDF)
Guide to completing the extension of time application form (183.82KB PDF)
How to withdraw your application for a building consent
You may withdraw or cancel your application for a building consent. You may be eligible for a partial refund of fees paid. This must be made in writing to:
Team Leader Building Services
Tararua District Council
PO Box 115
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