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Building ConsentsTono whakaaetanga hangatanga

How Council processes building consents applications

Building Work

Council receives building consent applications electronically.

Non-technical check (Plansmart vetting)

After the consent has been lodged the Council does a non-technical check to ensure the required information is present, e.g. forms complete and relevant plans, specifications and technical information supplied. We also check to ensure the correct property details have been selected.

Council will:


Accept the application
The statutory clock starts ticking.


The application will be returned
The application will be returned and the applicant will receive a “Plansmart information request” outlining the additional information required. The application will then need to be resubmitted.

Council processes consent

The building officer processing the consent checks that the information is project specific and relevant, and whether they are satisfied on reasonable grounds that the proposed building work complies with the Building Code (see Building Act Section 49).

Other Council teams such as Planning and Infrastructure also check the consent.

Request for more information (RFI)

Where Council considers there is insufficient information to demonstrate Building Code compliance, Council sends a letter to the applicant requesting this information. This suspends the processing time.

Building Consent flowchart

What happens when Council requires more information?

When processing a consent, the building officer checks the design plans and specifications against the performance requirements of the Building Code and Building Act.

If the design specifications and plans don’t clearly prove to Council that the proposed building complies with the Building Code, Council may either:

  • request more information (RFI), this suspends the consent processing time
  • or refuse the application, you will need to reapply with a new application.

If more information is required, Council will send a letter to the applicant requesting this. We will copy the letter to the owner so they are aware of the application status. In some cases, your letter may include information required by other Council departments, or they may contact you separately.

Council invoices you

Council will send you an invoice once your consent is processed. Your consent will be granted and issued once you have made this payment.

Consent is granted

Your consent will be given to you electronically. If you want the consent printed, printing fees will apply.

Granting a consent means Council are satisfied on reasonable grounds that the building work will comply with the Building Code, if completed properly in accordance with the plans and specifications within the application.

Once you have received your consent, please read it carefully as it contains important information such as:

  • Required inspections
  • Conditions
  • Required documentation
  • Any restrictions imposed under other legislation.

Note: the consent must be available on site for every inspection.

Statutory timeframe for processing, and when the ‘clock’ may be stopped and started

The Building Act allows Councils 20 working days to process Property Information Memorandums and/or Building Consent applications to the point of either granting or refusing your application. Where your application relates to a multi-use approval the Building Act allows 10 working days.

The Act allows Council to suspend the processing clock where additional information is required to establish Building Code compliance. The clock will restart when the completed information has been received by council.

Council may refuse building consents if the designer has failed to show Building Code compliance. 

Land subject to natural hazards

Your designer may need to design in certain features such as minimum floor heights or specific foundation systems, to take account of any natural hazards your land is subject to. Natural hazards may include:

  • Erosion e.g. coastal erosion, bank erosion, and sheet erosion
  • Falling debris e.g. soil, rock, snow, and ice
  • Subsidence
  • Inundation e.g. flooding, overland flow, storm surge, tidal effects and ponding
  • Slippage.

Council may either:

  • Grant consent
  • Grant consent subject toconditions relating to the hazard and a notification on the Record of Title
  • Refuse the consent.

If your land is subject to natural hazards we suggest you discuss this with a design professional and possibly a lawyer before applying for a building consent. A notification on your Record of Title can lead to wider issues outside of Council’s role.

Coastal inundation zone information.

Request for Inundation Height in Coastal Inundation Zone

Consent applications that Council can process

As a Building Consent Authority, Council can process all building consents except for those relating to large dams. You must discuss any plans to build a large dam with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council .

Acceptance and management of professional opinions (eg producer statements)

In some cases you may provide technical opinions from design or building professionals or product manufacturers with your application to show how Building Code compliance will be achieved. Your designers should read that information carefully to ensure the Building Code compliance section is current and adequately described. This will help you avoid unnecessary delays.

Council are not obliged to accept statements, and do so at our discretion.

Depending on the circumstances, Council may either:

  • Seek additional information
  • Seek a peer review of the professional’s information.
  • Reject the information

Information from an engineer

If your application includes information from an engineer and a “producer statement”, check the statement to see if it covers “all” or “part only” of the work. If it covers “part only”, Council will require a full description of what parts are/are not covered. You should also ensure the engineer is working within their identified field of expertise.

Fire reports

Fire reports are critical to ensuring people are safe when using buildings, you should ensure you are using suitably qualified and experienced design professionals for these reports.
Council expects all fire reports to be concise, clear and project specific. Reports that are not completed by chartered professional fire engineers will likely be peer reviewed by a Council approved chartered professional fire engineer. The cost of the review will be passed on to the owner.

Complex designs

In cases where complex designs need to be supported by a peer review (i.e. by a suitably qualified engineer), Council may seek an additional peer review at their discretion if that peer review is not deemed sufficient. The associated costs will be passed on to the owner.

When a consent lapses

Once your building consent has been issued, the building work that the consent relates to must be started within 12 months. Otherwise the consent will lapse, and you will have to reapply for a new building consent if you wish to proceed with your building work.

Council will remind you of this date closer to the time, and you may apply for an extension of time provided you do so before the 12 months is up. There is a fee for this service.

Referrals to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Some types of building consent applications need to be forwarded to Fire and Emergency NZ for review. These are described in a gazette notice. Typically Council will check the report to see if the consent requires a Fire and Emergency NZ review.

Council’s expectation is that the fire designer or engineer would correctly state if this is required. Fire and Emergency NZ have 10 working days from receiving the consent to provide feedback to Council. If the designer has incorrectly stated the need for such a review this can hold up your consent.

When conditions can be applied to a consent

The Building Act allows many conditions to be applied to a consent and the most common ones relate to our ability to inspect the work and natural hazards. The conditions listed on your building consent are important and you should read them carefully.

If you have any questions you should discuss them with your design or building professional in the first instance.

Consent conditions

Building Consent conditions will be included in certain circumstances.  These can include the following sections of the Building Act 2004:

  • Section 67: Waiver and Modification
  • Section 73: Construction of building on land subject to natural hazards
  • Section 75: Construction of building on two or more allotments
  • Section 90: Inspections by Building Consent authorities
  • Section 113: Buildings with specified intended lives.

 Although not a condition of consent, if the proposed works requires Resource Consent approval and a resource consent has not yet been obtained, a form 4 will be attached to the building consent stating that no building work may proceed or that building work may only proceed to the extent stated in the certificate. This is a requirement of section 37 of the Building Act.


Inner City Living Guide to consents for residential conversion

For builders, property developers and housing providers changing commercial buildings into inner city homes.

Inner city living is gaining popularity in Hastings, and Hastings District Council supports this change. We have developed a guide to provide a brief insight into what is involved from a consenting perspective to change a commercial building into a residential building. 

View the residential conversion guide 


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