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Applying for a Building Consent

What is a building consent?

Building consents are consents to carry out building work, and are issued by a building consent authority such as Council.

Building consents are the formal approval that certain works, if completed in line with the plans and specifications in your application, meet the Building Act, Building Regulations and Building Code requirements.

How do I apply for a building consent?

You will likely need to engage competent design professionals to complete the necessary plans, specifications and other supporting documentation required in your application.

To apply for a consent, you need to complete a building consent application form (Form 2) . This form requires a solid knowledge of the Building Code, which competent design professionals can assist you with.

Why engage a competent design professional to do my application?

Good plans, drawings and specifications are vital components of your building consent application. You need someone with a solid knowledge of the Building Act and who can design to the Building Code.

Design professionals may include a registered architect, chartered professional engineer, licensed building practitioner or other. They can help ensure your designs adequately demonstrate to Council that your proposed building complies with the Building Code. All building work will also follow those plans.

After building work is complete, Council checks the work has been done according to the consented plans. The plans provide a record of the completed building work.
Incomplete building consent applications are rejected or returned by Council, which can lead to delays or unforeseen costs. However, competent design professionals will know what to include so that Council won’t have to make multiple requests for information – a win-win.

How do I choose a competent design professional?

We suggest using people with appropriate qualifications, skills and experience who are either part of industry organisations, e.g. Engineering New Zealand or are licensed building practitioners.

It’s important to note that if your project is residential and contains restricted building work, you must use a licensed building practitioner (LBP)  to do or supervise the design work.

Professionals who can help you design your building or renovation project may include:

  • Registered architects
  • Architectural designers
  • An architectural draughtsperson
  • Chartered professional engineers (for specific, more complex design)
  • Builders or a building company who may be able to arrange your drawings and designs
  • Companies who provide a standard house design package (often referred to as ‘group home builders’).

Asking your friends and family for recommendations can be a good place to start.

More information

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has guidance on its website on choosing a competent design professional.

The Consumer Protection website also has some useful tips.

Building Consents Checklist

Detail required in plans and supporting material

Checklist for good building plans

Specific and relevant: Plans, supporting material and specifications must be site and project specific and only include information that relates to the job.

Use recognised scales: Plans must also be drawn to recognised scales.

Reference Building Code/Act: Plans and specifications must clearly show how the work will comply with the Building Code/Act

Outline proposed work: Outline the specific building work you would like to do.

Include product information: Product information should also be included, and this must also be site and project-specific, and relevant.

Commercial work

Note: Where the work is commercial (or includes a residential cable car) the application must include information on specified systems. You must also include the performance standards to which the specified systems will be installed, and the inspection maintenance and reporting procedures to be listed on the compliance schedule.

Fire reports or engineering design

When submitting fire reports or engineering design, you should ensure the person providing that information to you is suitably qualified and experienced. You should only use chartered professional engineers for these specialised roles. You should not experience any problems if a competent design professional has made an application (see above).

Proposed inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures for specified systems

If your building includes specified systems such as fire sprinklers, alarms, backflow preventers, emergency lighting etc., your application must include information on these. This should include the

  • Performance standards to which the specified systems will be installed
  • Inspection maintenance and reporting procedures to be listed on the compliance schedule.

Performance standards should include references to:

EITHER a specific Building Code performance or
OR if referring to Standards or acceptable solutions, the references should include dates and versions of the documents referred to.

*For single household unit this section only applies if you have a cable car.

Applications for minor variations or amendments to a consent

Amendments to building consents must be made before the work is done. This application can be made by completing Form 2, the building consent application form.

It is helpful to cloud around the area of the work being altered to speed up processing times.

Minor variations are small changes that can usually be approved by the inspector onsite. It is in you/your builder’s best interest to raise these with the inspector as soon as possible. You may need to provide drawings etc. showing what the minor variation is. Council don’t have an application form for minor variations.

Guide for applying for building consents

View MBIE's excellent guide to making an application for building consents

Helpful hints for the building consent process

This section provides further guidance to help ensure the building consent process is easy, consent and stress-free.

Carefully select competent design and building professionals

Having competent design and building professionals is the key to enjoying a smooth building consent process. We suggest you:

  • Ask your friends and family if they can recommend anyone
  • Ask the design or building professional to provide references
  • Check to see if they are licensed building practitioners (residential) and if they are part of any recognised industry groups. If so, check any complaints or concerns have been made about them.
  • Ask if they have done the type of work you are wanting before.

If your products aren’t tried and true, seek advice first

Think about suitability, as well as the ongoing costs associated with maintenance and replacement of products and systems. Are the products/systems ‘tried and true’, or do you want to use ones that are innovative?

If you want to use innovative products, ask your designer what he/she knows about these products and ask your builder/tradesperson if they have used them before.

Include contingencies in your budget

Do you have extra money than you can call on should there be any surprises, or are you maxed out?

Read Council documents carefully and ask if unsure

Once you’ve read the documents, if you still don’t understand it, you are welcome to ring on 06 871 5000 and one of our helpful staff will assist.

Look out for warning signs

Is your building consent application going backwards and forwards with Council? Is the consent being delayed by ongoing questions your designer can’t seem to resolve? Is there an issue with every inspection? Are inspections constantly failing? Is the site mostly clean and tidy? Can the builder answer your questions in a way that makes sense?

Council do not put in place barriers to obtaining consents for any reason other than something is not right.

Act early if you’re worried

If you are starting to worry about the project you should seek expert advice as soon as possible. Council can help in some areas but we cannot help over issues of contract.

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