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Change of Use of a Building under the Building Act 2004

This page contains information about changes of use as specified in the Building Act 2004 and associated regulations and how council will deal with these.
Updated: 15/10/2018 12:04 p.m.

The Building Act 2004 recognises that changing a building's established use has implications and for this reason requires building or property owners to give the council written notice of any changes proposed.

Council does not have a form for this type of notification but you should still notify council of the change you are proposing and also include the following information:

  • Your name and address, and address of the building of the building if different,
  • Description of the change proposed, even if it is only to part of the building,
  • the reason for the change,
  • the location of the building in relation to other buildings, natural hazards,
  • if the building is to be open to the public and how many people could be using the space at any given time,

This information will be used by council to determine whether upgrading of the building is necessary to meet the requirements of the building code for the proposed activity.

Usually these changes are dealt with through a building consent as upgrading or alterations have already been identified as either required or desirable for the new use.

Common examples of changes of use are:

  • residential house to restaurant
  • warehouse to apartments
  • dwelling to childcare facility

These can trigger Building Code compliance issues and certain systems or elements within the building may be required to be changed or upgraded.

Uses of all or parts of buildings are specified in Schedule 2 of the Building (Specifed systems, Change of Use and Earthquake prone Buildings) Regulations 2005, and changes of use in parts 5 and 6 of this regulation and s115 of the Building Act 2004.

Summarising these, if the current estbalished use of a building changes from one category of "uses related to crowd activity" to another, a change of use is taking place. 

Consideration of whether requirements for building code compliance has increased with the "new use" has to be undertaken.

If there is no change in compliance requirements or if they are less, then the change is use may proceed. If code compliance is increased, a building consent maybe required to upgrade the building.

Building (Specified systems, change of use and earthquake prone buildings) Regulations 2005 (New Zealand Legislation website)

Building Act 2004 - Section 115 (New Zealand Legislation website)

Even if you are simply notifying council of a change of use of a building, council must decide whether it can allow the change of use under the Building Act 2004 or whether building consent is required to upgrade the building to comply with the Building Code, in particular, to ensure the building still meets code requirements relating to:

  • means of escape from fire, protection of other property, sanitary facilities, structural performance, fire-rating performance
  • access and facilities for people with disabilities (if this is a requirement for the building)
  • compliance with other aspects of the Building Code to at least the same extent as before the change of use occurred.

Alterations to part of an existing building can also trigger the need to upgrade provisions for the whole building.

If a building consent is required, the change of use "notification" will be refused at this time - unless it is part of a building consent application - and the change cannot be put into effect until a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) has been issued for the work, therefore, enabling the change of use of the building.

The change of use may be allowed with regard to the Building Act but some other form of consent e.g. Resource Consent, may have been identified as being required also - this consent must be given before the change can be effected.

Note; other changes may come from the change of use - such as rating changes etc.

To ensure that you have all your bases covered make an appointment to see one of our duty officers and explain fully what you are intending to do.

Note that if the advice given is that a building consent application is required you do need to indicate in the building consent application that the work will result in a change of use of the building.

You can also find more helpful information from Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment pages on Change of Use and Alterations.

Change of Use, Alterations and Extensions of Building Life (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website)



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