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Pre-Construction Approvals

Pre-Construction Approvals

When do I need a building consent?


Building Consents are required for most projects. Check out Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004, which outlines what projects do not require a building consent, including:

  • Removal or alteration of a wall that is not a structural or bracing element.
  • Awnings, pergolas or a veranda over a deck (15 sqm maximum).
  • Installation or replacement of windows, exterior doors or roof windows, provided that structural elements are not modified.
  • Alteration of dwellings to improve access for persons with disabilities, including doorway modifications and access ramps, but excluding wet area accessible showers.
  • Internal shop or office fit out where the work does not modify, or require modifications to, any specified systems or means of escape from fire.
  • Alterations to existing plumbing in bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and toilets, including minor drainage alteration (e.g. shifting a gully trap) but excluding new connections to services. Any such alterations must be carried out by a registered plumber in accordance with the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 1976.
  • Erecting tents and marquees of up to 100sqm where they are for private use and up to 50sqm where they are intended for public assembly.

While the Building Act provides for the above exemptions, the work must still comply with other legislation, such as:

  • New Zealand Building Code
  • Resource Management Act
  • Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act
  • Electricity Act
  • Health Act
  • Local Government

Further details are available from the Department of Building and Housing website at or discuss further with your local council. A useful guide has been created by the Department of Building and Housing called ‘The Building Act and You’. To download this guide, click here.

‘PIM’ Project Information Memorandum

A PIM is required for all building work that requires a building consent. A PIM provides relevant information to your project that the council knows about such as:

  • Potential inundation/flood risk
  • Potential erosion
  • Falling debris/slippage
  • Heritage status of the building
  • Identification of cut and filled land
  • Wind zone
  • Vehicle crossing requirements
  • Possible presence of hazardous contaminants
  • Details of storm water and wastewater utilities systems
  • Resource consents and other authorisations that may be required
  • Need for an evacuation scheme where applicable
  • Site vehicular access restrictions during construction work
  • Notification of any Development Contributions if applicable
  • Any notification that building work cannot be done due to some necessary authorisation being refused despite a building consent having been issued
  • Confirmation that building work may be undertaken subject to the requirement of a building consent, resource consent and any other necessary authorisations being issued

You can apply for your PIM either before lodging any related building consent or jointly with your building consent application.


Applying for your building consent


You can apply for a building consent yourself, but your application must comply with the Building Code and you must provide all the necessary documentation (as listed below). Alternatively your designer, builder or project manager can make the application on your behalf.

Required documentation when applying for your building consent:

Each council may have different requirements for their applications for a building consent so always check with your local council. Generally however, you are required to provide the following information:

  • Completed Building Consent Application Form, which will include an estimate of the value of work to be done
  • Appropriate fee (see local council)
  • Proof of ownership
  • Locality Plan including:
    • Relationship to streets
    • North point
    • Lot and DP number
    • Details of inspections and monitoring timetable, including those by council officers and other required professionals ie: architect, engineers etc
  • Site Plan including:
    • Dimensions of all boundaries
    • Finished floor levels
    • Ground contours/levels
    • Lot and DP number
    • Street number and name
    • Site area
    • Outline of building footprint & distance to boundaries
    • Designated wind zone
  • Foundation Plan including:
    • Dimensions which provide details of footings
    • Reinforcing sizes & layout
    • Foundation elements
    • Sub floor ventilation & engineering information
    • Reinforcing and contractions joints in concrete slabs
    • Subfloor bracing and Foundation details
  • Drainage Plan including:
    • Fixtures and fittings
    • Hotwater system(s)
    • Upper floor sanitary fittings with isometric layout showing wastes
    • Pipes and falls
    • Drainage layout with inspection bends and junctions for both stormwater and sewage, and other drainage on site
    • Ventilation of sanitary rooms
    • Calculations for sizing of downpipes
  • Floor Plans including:
    • Existing (for additions and alterations) and proposed providing details of floor dimensions, windows, doors, stairs, barriers, handrails, floor joists, beams, fixtures, fittings, stove, plumbing, and smoke detector layout
  • Wall Bracing Plans including:
    • Detail of wall layout with windows, doors, roof layout, bracing type
    • Location and fixing details of bracing panels and calculations for all floors
    • Subfloor bracing for decks projecting more that 2m from the house
  • Elevations including:
    • Accurate ground lines, levels, height recession planes
    • Location of doors, windows (with opening windows clearly shown)
    • Floor levels in relation to finished ground levels
    • Exterior claddings
    • Roof covering
    • Down-pipes & spouting
    • Sub-floor ventilation and flues
  • Sections and details including:
    • Details of the foundations, reinforcing, damp-proof membrane, stud heights, floor levels, wall structure (including proprietary wall-bracing element details)
    • Roof structure, roof covering, wall cladding, flashings, insulation
    • Fire-rated systems
    • Lintels and beams, stairs, handrails, decks and decking, barriers
    • Truss layout
  • Cladding details including:
    • Details around all penetrations, joinery and other junctions at a level appropriate to the level of risk, e.g. roof/wall, balcony/wall, junction of different types of cladding
    • Backflashing details for cavity systems
    • Specifications which have a clear description of materials and building elements that cannot be shown on the drawings e.g. durability issues would be shown here
    • Engineer’s reports and calculations
    • Producer statements – where the application is relying on a statement to certify compliance of the plans, specifications or completed works with the Building Code, a copy of that producer statement and the calculations it is based on must accompany the application
    • Solid fuel heaters – these may need separate building consent application and must include the manufacturer’s specifications and installation instructions and a floor plan of the building that clearly shows the proposed location of the heater unit and adjacent rooms, doors and windows
    • Water supply details – where the property will not be connected to the council reticulated water supply. The location and size of tanks, the location of bores, test results etc must be included
    • Alternative Solutions – if the proposal uses products or systems that are not covered in the Acceptable Solutions of clause E2 of the Building Code, provide supporting current information including independent test results (full signed reports), case studies, expert opinion (and proof of expertise) to demonstrate compliance
    • List of specified systems (if applicable)


Resource Consents


What is the Resource Management Act?

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) is a set of guidelines for the use of New Zealand’s natural and physical resources, in both the urban and rural environment. Your local council is required to implement the RMA and oversee its day to day running.


Who needs a Resource Consent? / What work requires a Resource Consent?

Permission must be obtained to carry out activities that are restricted or controlled by the rules set out in the district plan; this is done by applying for a resource consent. A Resource Consent is required for changes such as:

  • Building closer than the permitted distance to your property’s boundary
  • Building coverage – building over an area that covers more land than is permitted
  • Subdivision of your property

Each local Authority’s District Plan outlines the criteria for consent requirements, and most publish helpful information guides to assist you. In your application for a Resource Consent you will need to provide your local council with an assessment of the potential environmental effects of your project. To find out if you need Resource Consent, ask your council first. Your architect or designer should be aware if you need a Resource Consent when developing the plans, e.g. You will need consent if your house has to be sited closer to the boundary than the city or district plan allows.


What is the process?

Depending on the impact of your project to the environment your council will decide whether the Resource Consent will be:

  • Non-notified: which means the application does not need to go through a process which includes public submissions
  • Limited notified: which is open to the scrutiny of nearby neighbours
  • Publicly notified: when the council concludes there would be a substantial impact to the environment

Non-notified applications take about one month to process, and for a notified application allow approximately three to four months including a hearing where you present your application in person. The timeframe can be reduced to about two months if the council decides a hearing is not necessary.

If your application is rejected, you can appeal the council’s decision by reassessing your plans and making necessary changes, or apply to the environment court to overturn or amend the council’s decision. The environment court is made up of judges and commissioners who consider the application. Always seek legal advice before lodging an appeal as this process can be expensive and time consuming.

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