You can’t usually start any physical work until you have building consent (unless your work is exempt or there is an emergency), so make a good application and avoid unnecessary delays. Everyone involved benefits from a complete, accurate, easily understood application as it becomes the plan everyone has to follow.
Once you’ve confirmed that you need a building consent, make a good application as this forms the approved plans for your building project.
You cannot start any physical work on your building project until you have the building consent (and any other required approvals, such as resource consent).
Through good planning and proper preparation, your application can provide everyone involved with a solid foundation to make well-informed, efficient and cost-effective decisions. It can also help speed up consent processing and approval time.
The plans and specifications you have drawn up for your application will be reviewed or used by many people, even if your building project is simple. This can include:
The person completing the application needs to understand the application requirements and the Building Code, and also be able to provide or source the information that shows how your project will comply. That might be you, or your representative (such as architect, builder or project manager).
If you have restricted building work, you need the licensed building practitioner who is going to do your work to also complete or supervise the completion of the relevant part of your building consent application.
Restricted building work in more detail.
Applications often fail to show compliance in these three key areas, so make sure the person completing the application knows about Building Code requirements related to:
You can usually pick up an application pack from your council or download one from their website. If you haven’t already, this is a good time to discuss your plans with them.
You can also find out if they have special requirements, such as filing your application online. Although these requirements are not related to the Building Code or Building Act, it might save you time if you ask your council what they need before completing your application. You might need to make an appointment to see the right person.
Many designers produce, deliver, store and retrieve documents electronically. Some councils can also receive and process documents electronically. If this is the case, ask the council if you can lodge your application electronically.
By applying electronically you can:
An owner may make a series of building consent applications for stages of the proposed building work. This may be useful where the scope of each part of the work can be clearly defined.
Applications that might be staged are:
Staged consents may also be useful where more than one household unit is being built specifically for sale, and the units are not connected. A household unit being built specifically for sale cannot normally be transferred without a code compliance certificate. However, the owner or builder can stage the consents so that a code compliance certificate can be obtained for each unit.
It is an offence to use public premises that are affected by building work and have not had a code compliance certificate issued. If you’re building or altering a public building and want the public to be able to use part of it before the build is signed off by council as complete, you may be able to:
Every building project is different, due to factors that range from personal taste through to practicalities, legislation and local land use requirements. Councils have to take all of these things into consideration, as well as the designer’s specifications for how the build will meet the performance based standards of the Building Code.
In addition, every council has its own structure and processes. Ask your contact at the council whether you need to talk to anyone else about your project, and ask for specific information about the process.
Your council will assess your building consent documentation to ensure it complies with the Building Code, the district plan and any other laws (such as heritage). It will also check you are complying when it inspects the work during construction and at the end of the project.
If you don’t agree with a council decision about a building consent you can apply to us for a legally-binding determination or make a complaint against the council.
Resolving problems explains determinations and making a complaint.
You will need to pay a fee for the building consent. The amount varies, depending on your council, the complexity of your project and the value of the proposed finished building.
It might also include a government levy, depending on the value of the project. The levy contributes to the development and management of national building regulations (Building Act and Building Code).
If the council identifies something that requires further investigation, or wasn’t in your application, it may request the information. You will need to source the information and might need to pay additional fees.
If you amend your plans once your building consent is granted, you will need to pay additional fees for the council to review your amendment.
Your plans and specifications need to show how you intend to construct, alter, demolish or remove a building. Your council, in its capacity as a building consenting authority, issues a building consent if your detailed plans show that the finished building would comply with the Building Code.
Most councils provide guidance on any additional documentation they require with a building consent application (such as check sheets).
Councils do not:
Your application will need to include:
You will probably need someone who understands the Building Code to help complete your building consent application. A good application can help the process run smoothly and reduce the need to rework or provide more information.
Depending on your project, you might also need to provide:
Your application should provide an accurate historical record that can be used when further building work, alteration, repair or maintenance is needed, or the property is sold.
It should also include appropriately worded quality standards to assist in defining contractual obligations. This will minimise and more rapidly resolve disputes. Where an owner has a requirement or expectation of tolerances and finishes above industry norms, this should be explicitly communicated and included in the construction contract.
It is best for the owner to discuss their requirements with their designer before completion of the design. A higher quality of work, for instance the desired levels of finish and flatness, may require changes to the underlying building structure; it is easier and more affordable to plan for this during design than to make changes during the construction process.
If you make any changes to the plans after the consent has been granted – including changing the materials used – you will need to inform your council and find out how to amend your plans.
The larger and more complex your project, the more detailed your plans will need to be. However, even if your project is small and simple you need to provide a good level of detail.
Information should be project-specific. General phrases, such as ‘refer to manufacturer’s specification and/or requirements’ or ‘installed in accordance with best trade practice’ are insufficient. Manufacturers’ specifications can change, and views on ‘best trade practice’ vary between practitioners.
If you refer to Standards, Acceptable Solutions or Verification Methods, be specific. Some Standards are cited (in whole or in part) in the Acceptable Solutions, while other Standards only offer advice. Some Standards contain several options. References to other industry guides, such as BRANZ publications, should also be specific.
References need to:
A good project-specific specification has a logical structure and navigation. New Zealand’s default standard classification system is Coordinated Building Information (CBI). You can recognise it by the 4-digit number used to classify each specification work section (or chapter).
An example of Coordinated Building Information:
311 Formwork and reinforcement for concrete
3111 Formwork for in situ concrete
At the least, your specifications should include:
Keep material separate:
You can describe product and material selections in each work section, grouped together in a single schedule, or listed on drawings. You can also have a mix of trade-based, material-based, process-based and element-based sections or chapters.
Specifications must be project-specific and not include unrelated generic information, as this can slow down the consenting process while councils identify what is relevant.