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essential resources

Guide to applying for a building consent (residential buildings)

Consumerbuild website.  ConsumerBuild: Help with building, renovating and maintaining your home.

New Zealand Government website.  Your Council: Look up the contact details of your local council.

Resource Management Act. Information about the Resource Management Act [External website].

Building basics

The Building Act 2004

The Act affects the construction, alteration, demolition and maintenance of new and existing buildings throughout New Zealand.

It sets standards and procedures for people involved in building work to ensure buildings are built right first time. It covers how work can be done, who can do it, and when it needs to be inspected.

The Building Act covers building work, but there are other laws that could affect your project. These include council bylaws, the Resource Management Act, and the laws specifying that certain plumbing, gas and electrical work must be done by qualified professionals.

Find out more about the Building Act »

The Building Code

The Building Code is a set of regulations that define the performance standards buildings must meet, for example how strong an earthquake they must be able to withstand, or how much natural light there must be in a bedroom.

The Building Code sets minimum standards. You may decide to exceed those standards, but you cannot do less than the Building Code requires.

To ensure your project goes smoothly, it is important the person who draws your project plans understands the Building Code requirements and how to meet them, and that the builder builds to the approved plans.

Councils have powers to require that property owners fix work not complying with the Building Code.

Find out more about the Building Code »

Who's who?

Building consent authorities
Most city and district councils are Building Consent Authorities (BCA).

Your day-to-day dealings about building matters are likely to be with your builder, architect or project manager. You or they, depending on how much involvement you have chosen to have, will also work with your BCA on the project.

BCAs issue building consents, undertake inspections during construction and issue code compliance certificates, certifying that the finished work complies with the Building Code. They also issue notices to fix and compliance schedules.

BCAs charge a fee for these services. The fee depends on the BCA and the amount of work involved, but is generally set for the recovery of reasonable costs. It will be a small proportion of the cost of the whole building project and will provide assurance that the job has been done properly.

District and city councils
Councils have a range of building-related responsibilities.

They keep records about all the properties in their area, issue project information memoranda and certificates of acceptance, monitor compliance schedules and follow up notices to fix.

Councils also have powers to address breaches of the Building Act. They can issue infringement notices or, in some circumstances, organise for remedial work to be done.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
MBIE (formerly the Department of Building and Housing) manages the system that regulates building work and monitors its effectiveness.

This includes reviewing the Building Code and producing documents to show how to comply with it. MBIE also monitors the performance of district and city councils, and can investigate complaints.

If a dispute arises over compliance with the Building Code, or a decision made by a BCA (for example, about whether a building consent should be granted or not), either party can apply to the Ministry for a determination, which is a legally binding decision.