Frequently asked questions
What is a building consent and why do I need it?
A building consent is a formal approval from Council under the Building Act 2004 that allows a person to carry out building work. This includes work related to construction, alteration, demolition or removal of a building. Council will only issue the building consent when satisfied that the proposed building work meets the requirements of the Building Code.
You cannot carry out any building work without a building consent, except for a few minor exceptions set out in Schedule 1 of the Building Act. For example:
- Decks less than 1.5m in height
- Retaining walls less than 1.5m high that do not support any surcharge or additional load such as vehicles on a road
All building work must meet the minimum requirements of the Building Code even if a building consent is not required.
How much will my building consent cost?
This depends on the complexity of your project, its total estimated value and the level of detail provided. The fee will be invoiced on approval and will need to be paid prior to the consent being uplifted. If you choose to cancel the consent or not go ahead, there will still be fees payable for the services incurred. For more information, visit our fees and charges page.
If the value of your application is more than $20,000, your fees will include levies Council is required to collect on behalf of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Building Housing Group and the Building Research Association of New Zealand.
How can I pay for my Building Consent?
Payments for building consents can be made by cheque, cash or EFTPOS at any of Council's service centres or may be paid online. The final invoice must be paid before your building consent can be uplifted.
How long will it take to process my application?
Building consent processing time depends on the complexity of your project and whether or not you have provided us with sufficient information. All consents are required to be approved within 20 working days. However if information is deficient the clock is stopped and you will be asked to provide further information. The clock restarts once all requested information is received.
How long is a building consent valid for?
Work must start on your project within 12 months of the date the building consent was issued. If Council have not been contacted to undertake any inspections before then - A letter will be sent out to you to say your building consent will lapse at the expiry of the 12-month period.
You may decide not to do the work, in which case the consent will lapse, or you may apply for an extension of time to start the work - These are considered on a case by case basis. Requests for an extension of time must be made on the appropriate form and be received before the expiry date.
What is a project information memorandum and why do I need it?
A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) sets out any information Council has that may affect your proposed project. This may be useful when designing the structure as it gives information such as compliance with the District Plan, land structure, current drainage positions and any natural hazards that may affect the site. For example, sometimes a PIM will specify the need to obtain a resource consent before you begin building work. The District Plan sets out which activities will require resource consent.
Even though applying for a PIM is optional, it is strongly recommend you do so before lodging a building consent with us, as it can provide valuable information and could prevent delays in processing your application.
What is a Certificate of Acceptance?
An owner may apply for to a Territorial Authority for a Certificate of Acceptance in the following instances:
- Where building work undertaken after 1 January 1993 required a building consent but one was not obtained.
- Where a building consent was approved by a building consent authority other than this Council. For example, private certifiers and a Code Compliance Certificate has not been issued.
- Where urgent work as defined in Section 41(1)(1) of the Building Act has been completed without a building consent. Urgent work' means work that is for the purpose of saving or protecting life or health or preventing serious damage to property or ensuring a specified system is made safe. In the case of urgent work the owner must apply for a Certificate of Acceptance as soon as practicable after completion of the work.
There is a popular misconception that applying for a Certificate of Acceptance (COA) as provided for in section 96-99 of the Building Act 2004 (the Act) will result in an owner being issued with a certificate that has similar status to a Code Compliance Certificate issued under sections 91-95 of the Act. This is not the case. A Certificate of Acceptance, if issued, is likely to cover only limited aspects of the building work that was undertaken.
Once building work has been completed we are often unable to undertake all types of inspections carried out during construction. It may not therefore be possible to establish if all building code requirements have been met. Therefore Certificate of Acceptances issued are limited and qualified to the effect that only parts (if any) of the building work were able to be verified as complying with the building code.
An application for a Certificate of Acceptance will not be accepted where:
- The work was completed before 1 January 1993 (effective date for the Building Act 1991)
- Council has issued a building consent for the building work in question but a Code Compliance Certificate has not been issued (this is specifically excluded in the Act)
- There is insufficient information about the project to enable the work to be assessed
Also an application for a Certificate of Acceptance may not always be the best or most economic option when Council has declined to issue a Code Compliance Certificate where a private certifier approved the building consent, undertook inspection/s but did not issue a Code Compliance Certificate.
In some cases an application to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for a determination may be appropriate. Please refer to the MBIE determination information for further information.
Council charges a fee for the processing of an application for a Certificate of Acceptance, for further details please see our fees and charges page.
What is a Certificate for Public Use?
A Certificate for Public Use (CPU) is issued by Council where it is satisfied the premises are safe for members of the public to use, before a Code Compliance Certificate is issued. It specifically applies to ongoing construction work.
You must have a Certificate for Public Use if the public are to have access to all or parts of the building (either during construction or on completion) before a Code Compliance Certificate is issued. Anyone who owns, occupies or controls premises intended for public use may apply for a Certificate for Public Use.
What is a Code Compliance Certificate?
A Code Compliance Certificate indicates the building work complies with the Building Code and with the building consent.
What is a producer statement?
Producer statements may be accepted instead of some inspections or processing functions. Producer statements confirm that a particular system, product or material has been applied by the person providing the statement in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications. They also confirm the requirements of the building code have been met.
Council usually identify if a producer statement is acceptable when processing your application for a building consent.
It is important to note that acceptance of producer statements is at Council's discretion. Council will only accept producer statements in the approved format and from applicators that Council have approved in advance. A fee may be charged for assessing and recording producer statements.
What is a notice to fix?
A notice to fix is a formal notice from the Council instructing you to take action to address the issues identified. You are usually given a timeframe to respond to prevent further action being taken.