What is Building Consent
A building consent is a formal document allowing building work to be completed. It is confirmation that a building consent authority is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the proposed building work, once completed in accordance with that building consent (and approved plans and specifications), will comply with the Building Code.
It is granted and issued under the Building Act 2004 (“the Act”). The purpose of the Act is to ensure buildings are safe, sanitary, have attributes that contribute to health and physical independence, have suitable means of escape from fire and are designed to be able to be used in ways that promote sustainable development.
When is building consent required
Buildings cannot be constructed, altered, demolished, or removed without building consent. However under section 41 of the Act, building consent is not required in certain cases such as:
- any building work described in Schedule 1 of the Act for which a building consent is not required.
- Urgent work for the purpose of saving or protecting life or health or preventing serious damage to property, where obtaining a building consent prior is impracticable. If you believe your situation meets the test for urgent works please contact us so we can advise you on practicalities and other requirements.
Schedule 1 of the Act describes work that is exempt such as:
- General repair, maintenance and replacement
- Single-storey detached buildings not exceeding 10 square metres in floor area
- Veranda or carports where the roof area is less than 20m2
- Low level retaining walls
- A low level patio or deck
- Demolition of detached building
For the complete list of the exemptions and information on Schedule 1 read Building work that does not require a building consent
Building on land subject to a natural hazard
When the land is subject to a natural hazard the building consent authority must refuse to grant a building consent for the construction of a building, or major alterations, unless the building consent authority is satisfied that the provisions of section 72 of the Act have been met. Building work on land subject to a natural hazard may result in an entry on the certificate of title.
For additional guidance visit EQC website; Section 72 notifications on a Certificate of Title
Restricted building work, licensed building practitioners and owner-builder exemption
Restricted building work must be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner who is licensed to carry out or supervise that kind of building work.
Owner-Builders are able to carry out restricted building work on their own home.
What is a Project Information Memorandum
A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) details information the Council has that may affect your proposed project. This information may be useful when designing the structure as it gives information such as compliance with District Plan requirements, land structure and current drainage positions.
A PIM is optional and you can choose to apply for a PIM before or when lodging a building consent application.
Other legislation to consider
Council’s Resource Consent and Compliance team undertakes a check of all applications for building consent to see if the proposed project meets District Plan requirements.
Council also checks for compliance with bylaws and other legislation for items such as vehicle access, connections to reticulated services (water, sewer and stormwater) and, in the case of commercial premises, matters such as food licences, liquor licencing and trade waste.
Council will also check easements and consent notices that are recorded on the Certificate of Title. Interests registered on titles, such as covenants, easements and consent notices, generally list restrictions that pertain to a property that may impact on design. The Council strongly suggests that designers obtain and check these documents so that any relevant information can be incorporated into their design.
Applications are checked for completeness before they are accepted.
Completing the forms
We need one hard copy of your application form and proof of ownership and two hard copies of all plans, specifications and supporting documents.
Our ability to accept your application package relies on quality drawings
Producer Statements are only accepted from registered chartered professional engineers.
Professional opinions, design and construction statements may be accepted. Opinions and statements need to be dated and clearly specify information such as;
- the scope of work that they cover and any limitations,
- where they relate to,
- the authors name/signature and any qualification or registration details.
Acceptance of opinions and statements is on a case by case basis, please contact us.
Altering and changing existing buildings
For alterations, change of use, extensions to specified intended life and subdivision of existing buildings, there are specific considerations that we are required to make decisions on. We need you to include the relevant information within your package so these decisions can be made. The relevant sections of the Act are:
- Section 112 Alterations
- Section 115 Change of use
- Section 116 Extension to specified indented life
- Section 116A Subdivision of existing building
If you are not familiar with building plans and establishing compliance with the Building Code you may need to engage a design professional to supply plans, drawings and information to the required standard. We cannot accept incomplete applications.
Cable cars are the only specified system relevant to a single household unit. Other buildings may have specified systems such as; sprinkler systems, fire alarms, passenger lifts, ventilation systems and back flow protection. The compliance schedule handbook provides guidance on specified systems, compliance schedules and the building warrant of fitness regime.
When an application includes the installation or alteration of specified systems an application package must include the proposed inspection maintenance and reporting procedures for the specified systems. The application form contains fields that need to be completed.
Fees and levies for building consents, inspections and code compliance certificate are invoiced after the receipt of an application for building consent. Additional fees will be recovered for any additional time spent, consultant reviews and extra inspections. Fees are published in Councils schedule of fees and charges.
Submitting your application
Your completed application can be forwarded to us in two ways:
- Bring it to our reception – 838 – 842 Fergusson Drive, Upper Hutt.
- By post (or courier) to – Upper Hutt City Council, Private Bag 907, Upper Hutt 5140
A building consent lapses and is of no effect if the building work does not commence within 12 months after the date of issue. We can allow this period to be extended before the consent lapses, on receipt of an application for extension of time.
When can building work start
Building work may commence when a building consent has been granted. However if a resource consent is required the building consent will be conditioned to state that no building work may proceed, or limit the work that may be done, until the resource consent is obtained.
Public occupation of buildings affected by building work
It is an offence to allow the public use or occupation of a building if a building consent is required for work or code compliance certificate for consented work has not been obtained. Despite this a building (or part of a building) may be used or occupied by the public if a certificate for public use has been issued. Certificate for public use requires an application, Form 15, and we have 20 working days to decide if it can be issued.
How building consents are processed
To grant a building consent we must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that that the provisions of the Building Code would be met if the building work were properly completed in accordance with the plans and specifications that accompanied the application. We are not required to grant consent until fees and levies are paid.
We have 20 working days to process applications (10 days for multiple use approvals). The clock starts on receipt of a complete application and may be suspended for requests for further information. A suspended clock will restart when all information requested has been received.
Requests for information
When information is missing, unclear or inconsistent we will request further information (“RFI”). This naturally causes delays in the process. Significant modifications to the design (outside of the requested information) should not be included with your responses. We cannot process a new (revised) application through the RFI process.
Referral to Fire and Emergency NZ
Some applications are required by law to be sent to the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (“FENZ”) for review.
Applications required to be reviewed by FENZ are:
- Alternative solution fire designs.
- Applications that involve modifications or waiver of clauses C1-6, D1, F6 or F8 of the New Zealand Building Code.
- Applications that involve an alteration, change of use, or subdivision that affects the fire safety systems of a building, including any building work on a specified system relating to fire safety, unless the fire safety system is minor.
We will send relevant applications to FENZ as part of the application process, with any costs incurred recovered from the applicant.
Consent conditions and advice notes
All consents are issued with the condition that agents authorised by the building consent authority can inspect (during normal working hours). Other conditions can be added for:
- When resource consent is required
- Building code waivers and modifications
- Building on land subject to natural hazards
- Building over two allotments
- Buildings with specified intended life.
Conditions are actions that are required to achieve/or maintain compliance.
Information notes and required items (inspections and documents) are attached to building consents. These are important advice notes that need to be well understood.
Last updated on 02 Mar 2018