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Applying for a Building Consent

The building consent process depends on the nature of the work you are planning.

There is a streamlined process for solid fuel heaters (wood burners or fireplaces) and some small low-risk projects can be considered for exemption, with all other building work requiring the process outlined on this page. 

Restricted building work: Building or design work that relates to either the structure (load-bearing walls, foundations etc) or moisture penetration (roof, cladding etc) of homes including small-to-medium sized apartments is classified as ‘Restricted Building Work’. This work can only be carried out by competent, appropriately licensed building practitioners.

Step 1 (Optional) – Project Information Memorandum (PIM)

A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) is a Council report related to a specific site which provides information about land and legislation that might be relevant to your proposed building work.

A PIM is not mandatory but does include information that is useful during the feasibility and design stages of a project, particularly for larger endeavours such as building new homes, making large alterations, or constructing new commercial or industrial buildings. For more general information and instructions on applying for a PIM see the PIM page.

Step 2 – Prepare a Building Consent application

A Building Consent is required for a range of building projects, including new buildings, alterations to existing buildings, and change of use of a building. 

Applicants must complete an official Building Consent application form on-line. It is to be completed by the property owner or their authorised agent, e.g. architect, engineer, draughtsman or builder. Detailed plans and comprehensive supporting material is required. For more information on what is required, please see the MBIE Guide. For more information specific to commercial or residential building consent applications please download the relevant document from the list below:

If you’re thinking about carrying out building works, consider whether there may be any natural hazards present, and how they could affect compliance with the Building Act 2004 and the New Zealand Building Code.

Natural hazards include:

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

A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) or Project Information Memorandum (PIM) and HB Emergency Management Hazard Portal will identify hazards that the Council knows about.

Gaining a building consent

New building work or major alterations should be designed with any natural hazard in mind.  The Council cannot grant a building consent for new buildings, or major alterations, on land that is subject to or likely to be subject to 1 or more natural hazards or is likely to accelerate, worsen or result in a natural hazard on that land or any other property.

It may help your application to have a report from a Geo Technical Engineer, Hydrologist or other specialist who can advise what the impact of your development may be and how to address the natural hazards.  You should check with Council prior to lodging a building consent application.

Title endorsements

If the Council is satisfied that your plans will adequately protect the land, building work or other property from the hazard, or restore it after the work is complete they can grant a building consent without endorsing your title.

The Council strongly recommends that you or your advisors discuss your proposals with Council staff before lodging your building consent application.

When a building consent is granted on a property that contains natural hazards the Council may arrange to endorse the Certificate of Title advising the consent has been issued on land subject to natural hazards. Endorsements may refer to:

  • Section 72 of the Building Act 2004 (current) or
  • Section 36 of the Building Act 1991 or
  • Section 641(A) of the Local Government Act 1974.

You can find out if there are any endorsements on your Certificate of Title by requesting a copy from Land Information New Zealand.

If there is a Section 72 endorsement (or similar) on the Certificate of Title and the building is subsequently damaged by a hazard event, then the owner and subsequent owners may not be insured for that damage. Refer to clause 3(d) of Schedule 3 of the Earthquake Commission Act 1993.

We advise contacting your solicitor, insurance company or the Earthquake Commission if you are purchasing a property where the land is subject to natural hazard or you are planning to alter or add to the property in the future.

Building Act 2004

Related links

It may be appropriate to engage a suitably qualified and experienced professional or expert to assist in preparing your building consent application.

Experts can help by providing evidence to support your application in demonstrating compliance with the building code.

Supporting evidence may take many forms including:

  • Tests, verification methods or other standards
  • Appraisals of products or systems
  • Reports, including calculations and modelling
  • Peer reviews
  • Comparison with similar products and systems
  • Comparison with generic products and systems that are compliant with acceptable solutions
  • Producer statements and other forms of certificate (IQP/LBP certificates for example)
  • Case studies, of products and systems in use

Professional opinions can assist in demonstrating compliance with the building code on reasonable grounds. They can also be used in the assessment of alternative solutions.

When processing your building consent the Council will need to determine if:

  • the source or author of the professional opinion is expert (competent) and independent; 
  • the basis for the opinion is acceptable

Competence and independence of the author

The Council does not maintain a list of approved professionals/ experts. 

Competence - is a mixture of qualification and relevant experience, this is established by:

  • The Council's knowledge of the practitioners ability where they work locally
  • Where not known to the Council, obtaining appropriate records to establish their competency and independence
  • Chartered Professional Engineers, Registered Architects, Registered Building Surveyors and the like while qualified and assessed to be competent by their peers still require some assessment by the Council to ensure that the scope of their expertise is appropriate to the opinion that they have provided
  • Documentation (opinions) from accredited organisations can be relied upon to establish reasonable grounds. However they should identify their scope and limitations, and clearly identify their means of compliance.
  • Other providers that may be appropriate experts within their sphere of experience include members of New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, and Royal Institute of Chartered Building Surveyors, and the like. As with Engineers and Architects, some assessment by the Council to ensure that the scope of their expertise is appropriate to the opinion that they have provided is required.
  • Other individuals may be able to provide professional or expert opinion depending upon their individual competence, the nature of the opinion being given, the complexity of the proposal and the level of risk. Their acceptance is at the discretion of the Council. It is recommended that their suitability is agreed with the Council prior to their engagement.

Independence - the author must be independent from:

  • the manufacturer or supplier of the product or system
  • financial interest in the property that is the subject of the opinion. Generally the author must not be linked financially, other than payment for the opinion, unless there is independent audit of their work.

If in the Council's view the author is not suitably competent or independent. The Council will go back to the applicant, or agent, and seek information from another source.

Is the opinion reasonable?

This needs to be determined by the processing officer and will include factors such as:

  • Identifying the basis on which the opinion has been formed including data, literature, research, comparison with other products etc.
  • Verifying that a site inspection has taken place where appropriate
  • Identification and justification of any assumptions on which the opinion is based
  • Validation of data used and it's applicability to the specific proposal
  • Verifying if the opinion is applicable, checking products are comparable and tests are appropriate for the New Zealand environment etc.
  • Consideration of central government guidance
  • Compliance with relevant standards

If in the Council's view, the opinion is not considered reasonable, further information will be requested from the applicant, agent or author of the expert/ professional opinion as appropriate and may require a peer review from an independent suitably qualified person.

You will need to provide the following information when submitting an application for a Building consent that contains specified systems:

  • state and describe each of the specified systems covered by the compliance schedule, including a statement of the type and (if known) make of each specified system; and
  • state the performance standards for the specified systems; and
  • describe the inspection, maintenance, and reporting procedures to be followed by independently qualified persons or other persons in respect of the specified systems to ensure that those systems are capable of, and are, performing to the performance standards.

For more information see the Public Buildings and Compliance Schedules page

Sometimes building work may not proceed if a Resource Consent is required and has not been obtained.
We recommend you speak to your designer to ensure all approvals required for your project are applied for.
It is important to discuss your proposal and any requirements that may be necessary with the appropriate Council Officer before planning/commencing work.

If your consent application is for an alteration to an existing building it is important to note that the building must comply as nearly as is reasonably practicable with the provisions of the Building Code that relate to means of escape from fire and access and facilities for persons with disabilities.

The building must continue to comply after the building work has been completed or, if it did not comply prior to the commencement of the building work, it must continue to comply at least to the same extent. For further information, refer to the Building Act: NZBA 2004 s112.

Depending on the nature of the work and the location of the property, other departments within Council may also be involved in this evaluation, including those involved with transportation, water services, coastal and river erosion, flooding, ponding etc.

It may also be necessary, depending on the nature of the work, to have certain aspects of the consent reviewed by a third party, such as a specialist engineer. In all cases where a third party review is required, you will be notified and given the choice of using your own specialist or a Council-appointed specialist, with the cost added to your consent fee.

A change of use is when both of the following apply:

You cannot make the proposed change until Council gives you written confirmation that the requirements of the Building Act have been complied with.

The requirements will vary, depending on whether the change of use means that household units/sleeping areas will be incorporated into the building. If this is the case, Council will need to be satisfied that the building's new use will comply with the Building Code as near as reasonably practicable (known as ANARP). If this is not the case, the building will have to comply with Building Code requirements on accessibility and escape for fire.

If you make the change without advising Council you could be liable for a fine of up to $5000.

For more information, see the change of use section of the MBIE website.

A Territorial Authority cannot issue a certificate under section 224(f) of the Resource Management Act 1991 for the purposes of giving effect to a subdivision affecting a building or part of a building unless it is satisfied, on reasonable grounds, that the building will comply, as nearly as is reasonably practicable, with every provision of the Building Code that relates to one or more of the following:

  • Means of escape from fire
  • Access and facilities for people with disabilities (if this is a requirement for the building)
  • Protection of other property

The building must also continue to comply with the other provisions of the Building Code to at least the same extent as before the subdivision application was made.

All structures require ground bearing confirmation to establish compliance with the NZ Building Code B1.
The level of testing required is dependent on the location of the structure.
The Hastings District Council GIS maps provide guidance on ground conditions in the Heretaunga Planes with five categories for assessment of ground conditions:

  • Uncharted (area hasn’t been assessed and is indicated as white in GIS maps)
  • Negligible (Light Yellow, liquefaction damage is unlikely)
  • Low Liquefaction (Yellow)
  • Medium Liquefaction (Orange)
  • High Liquefaction (Brown)

Minimum required testing

Uncharted and negligible:

Require testing in accordance with NZS3604:2011 or NZS4229*. 
*Unless otherwise dictated due to site conditions by a Geotechnical Investigation by a qualified CPEng engineer or Consent Notice requirement or from a Natural Hazard.
The testing can be undertaken by any professional proficient with DPC testing knowledge. That professional will need to provide all logs and a signed report with a clear understanding of the outcome including the kPA achieved.

Note : For sheds/ garages (non-habitable buildings – Level 1 type buildings) HDC will accept x2 DCP tests – unless the shed size is over 250m2 and or the testing brings up inconsistency which may require further DPC’s at that stage.

Low liquefaction:

Refer to the Geotechnical Site Investigation Guidelines for Residential Building Consents (June 2019), section 7.3.1. 
All geotechnical reports for liquefiable areas must be current - post June 2019.

Medium and high liquefaction:

Refer to the Geotechnical Site Investigation Guidelines for Residential Building Consents (June 2019), section 7.3.2. (refer to Section 8 Exemptions).
All geotechnical reports for liquefiable areas must be current - post June 2019.

The guidelines were developed with input from a panel of geotechnical engineering experts appointed by the Council. The guidelines were revised and finalised in June 2019 following a process of public consultation.  

Interactive GNS liquefaction indicator maps are available through the Hawke's Bay Emergency Management Group website.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment manages a multi-proof service for standardised building designs that are intended to be built several times. If your building design is Multi-proof certified, you can build the design repeatedly nationwide without having the whole design assessed each time. You will still need to apply for a Building Consent in the area in which you want to build and comply with local District Plan and Resource Consent rules.

For more information see the MBIE document: How to apply for Multiproof approval.

Most buildings have an indefinite life exceeding 50 years unless a specific intended life is specified.

Where a building is proposed to have a specified intended life the Building Consent will be issued subject to the condition that the building must be altered, demolished or removed before the end of its specified intended life. If you wish to extend the life of a building beyond its specified life, you must give written notice to Council proposing that extension. For more information, refer to the MBIE website.

Step 3 – Reviewing your application

Building Consent applications go through a pre-lodgement assessment process. This assessment process is called ‘PlanSmart'. It involves a Council review of your consent documentation against a standardised checklist. If there is information missing from your application it will be documented in an email and the application returned to you. Please re-submit your application when you have completed all requirements in the request.

It is important to remember that this is only an initial check to ensure you have provided all the necessary information. A full examination and technical assessment of the application supplied is completed by a building officer after the consent has been accepted and lodged.

Standard of documents

Building work which requires a licensed building practitioner (LBP) will need to be documented by the practitioner. See the LBPs page for more information.

The documentation of building work must be of the standard detailed in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Guide to applying for building consent  (pdf 3MB)

Step 4 - Lodging Your application

Applications can only be entered on-line. Pre--consent meetings are encouraged for large or complex residential buildings and all commercial building projects. If you wish to make an appointment for a pre-Building Consent lodgement meeting, please contact Council on 871 5000 to make an appointment with the building team leader - processing.

Amendments: Can I change the plans?

Yes, you are able to make changes to your plans at any stage of the application process. They will have to be checked for legislative compliance.

Any changes to a consent that has already been granted will require an amendment application. This will cost extra. To find out more on what type of alteration to an existing consent requires an amendment application see MBIE's Guide to building consent amendments.

With your amended plan application, you must include the following:

Provide a copy of the amended plans, the plans must be:

  • Drawn clearly to scale (ruled, not sketched, in ink)
  • Changed sheet numbers referenced
  • Include the designers name
  • Engineers details are drawn
  • Changes highlighted on all drawings/plans (ballooned/clouded)

Provide specifications relevant to changes provided. These may include:

  • Structural calculations and Producer statements
  • Fire safety systems
  • Details of all materials, fittings and installation requirements for the amendment
  • Identify compliance with the NZ Building Code
  • List all Alternative Solutions
  • Alternative solutions calculations / Producer statements

To apply use the online Building consent Amendment Form 2 application

To find out about the process that follows the lodging of an application for Building Consent Amendment, see the Process page.

Go to the Building Inspections page for information on minor variations that may not require a formal Building consent Amendment.


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