What requires consent?

A building consent is a document that is approved by Council, who acts on behalf of the Building Consent Authority. By obtaining a consent, it means that the work carried out (as detailed in the consent) is legal and compliant with New Zealand’s Building Code.

Some minor work does not need a consent because it is exempt under the Building Act .​

On this page:


What DOES require a consent?

  • Some demolitions
  • Structural buildings (these are things such as additions, alterations and re-piling)
  • Plumbing and drainage
  • Relocation of a building
  • Woodburner or air-conditioning system installation
  • Retaining walls (dependent on height, and rural/residential)
  • Fences or walls (higher than 2.5 metres)
  • A swimming pool that does not meet the criteria under Schedule 1 item 24 ‘Building work that does not require a building consent.'
  • A pool and its associated fencing which does not meet the criteria under Schedule 1 item 24 ‘Building work that does not require a building consent.’
  • Decks, platforms or bridges (more than 1.5 metres above ground level)
  • Sheds (greater than 10 square meters in floor area)
  • Earthworks (some) 

You can access more information on this, and other aspects of building consents from the Building Performance website.

Information as well as links on New Zealand’s building standards can be found here.

Back to top

Building work that may be proposed on land subject to natural hazards

If you need approval for building work on land subject to natural hazards or construction over two or more allotments, you should use of the forms on this link, which have been approved by the Registrar-General of land.

Back to top

Restricted building work (RBW)

This type of building work affects a building’s essential structures, foundations or safety.

RBW must be carried out by a Licenced building Practitioner (LBP), either with them carrying out the work or overseeing it. LBP’s are builders who are required to keep their skills and knowledge up to date and have been independently assessed within their field of work.

Read more about restricted building work here.

Read more about LBP's here.

Back to top

 Building work that is exempt from consent requirements

If you are planning to carry out any building work, you need to check what does and does not require a building consent. This link and also Schedule 1 has information on what is exempt from requiring a building consent, however it always pays to check with Council as to the regulations surrounding your situation.

Low risk building activities are outlined in the link and are split into five categories:

  1. General
  2. Existing buildings: additions and alterations
  3. Other structures
  4. Network utility operators or other similar organisations
  5. Demolition 

Work that is classified as low risk/exempt is generally work that will not affect your building’s structure or fire safety, as well as not posing a risk to public safety.

You may also be exempt from a building consent for things such as signs, retaining walls and playgrounds, if you employ a chartered engineer.

Read more about building exemptions here.

Back to top

Applying for a discretionary exemption

The Building Act also allows Council to permit building work to be undertaken without a consent if the proposed work is likely to be performed in accordance with the Building Code, or failing that, it is unlikely to endanger people or any building.

You MUST apply to Council for a discretionary exemption. Council will undertake a risk assessment of the building work proposed on a case by case basis.

More information on restricted building work can be found here.

Back to top

Last Updated: 8 May 2018