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Exemption from the Requirement of Building Consent

This page contains information on requirements for building work that does not require a building consent.
Updated: 17/06/2019 4:14 p.m.

​It is the responsibility of the Building Owner to determine whether intended building work is exempt from requiring a building consent, or not and to make sure that exempt building work undertaken complies with the New Zealand Building Code.

For these reasons we suggest that you seek either professional or council advice on your building work before proceeding.

If building work is conducted and a building consent is required but not obtained, you are in breach of the Building Act 2004 and can be subject to fine or other legal action.

Building work that is exempt from the requirement of building consent is set out in some detail on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

Check if you need consents (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)


The Building Amendment Act 2013 introduced several changes, including a revised Schedule 1, which details building work that does not require building consent. 

If your proposed building work is not covered by Schedule 1 then a Building Consent will be required, however, there is also provision for council to exempt building work not listed in Schedule 1 - read on for details.

Building consent exemptions for low-risk Work and Schedule 1 (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

Building Owner Responsibilities

Building owners are responsible for:

  • determining whether proposed building work is exempt from requiring a building consent
  • ensuring exempt building work complies with the Building Code and
  • ensuring the work does not breach any other Act.

Although work may be exempt, section 17 of the Building Act 2004 states that, all building work must comply with the Building Code whether or not a building consent is required.

To ensure that building work complies with the Building Code owners should seek professional advice from a suitably qualified person (i.e. builder or architect). Section 42A(2)(c)of the Act requires that the building work does not breach any other enactment.

This means that if the building work is likely to breach any other legislation or rules then the work cannot be considered as exempt from the need to obtain a building consent, therefore, building consent will be required. However, if approval under the other legislation is obtained, the work reverts to being exempt.

Example: schedule 1 building work breaches the district plan so resource consent is required because the work does not comply with the district plan; applicant obtains resource consent, work is now exempt under schedule 1 and can proceed.

Council strongly recommends that all building owners check with a Planning Officer before undertaking any building work to ensure that resource consent is not required particularly if the work proposed is under Schedule 1 of the Building Act.

Resource consents maybe necessary for a number of different reasons including but not limited to;

  • zoning,
  • site coverage and,
  • height in relation to boundary.

Building Act 2004 (New Zealand Legislation)

Owner's Questions

What if I build something or conduct work that is within the scope of Schedule 1?

This work is exempt from the requirement of Building Consent. You do not have to obtain a building consent for this work.

You may wish to keep the details of the construction for future sales information to satisfy any questions purchasers may have.

What if I am not sure if the building work is exempt?


You should always check with a building professional or council and seek their advice before deciding whether the work could be exempt.

The Building Act 2004 is quite clear that it is the owner's responsibility to ensure that they obtain building consent when one is required.

Conducting building work without consent when one is required is an offence under the Building Act 2004 and can lead to prosecution - so please check.

What if I want to build something that is outside the scope of Schedule 1 but I consider this to be of low risk and believe that an exemption could be applied?

Firstly - seek some professional advice from a designer or architect or similar. These professionals should be able to help in a couple of ways:

  • advise as to whether it would be better to seek a building consent - or other consents etc, and
  • assist with drawings, designs, information etc that will assist your application for exemption.

With this advice, you can apply for your work to be considered for exemption from the need for building consent.

Note - this application will need to be applied for BEFORE any construction work is started. These applications are considered by council on a case by case basis. These types of exemption cannot be issued retrospectively, therefore, if the structure is already built, and is outside the scope of Schedule 1, and council does allow the exemption, you could be applying for Certificate of Acceptance as mentioned above.

Application for Exemption for Requirement of Building Consent [70kb]

What information should I supply?

Council has no specific requirements with regards to the information supplied in these cases but it must be legible and suitable for scanning - i.e. A3 or less in size and accurately portray the work/structures for it to be of value as a record.

Site plans showing locations of other buildings, distances to boundaries, dimensions of the structure, construction plans of the building structure and specifications will all assist in our checking routines and be helpful information future for viewers.

Please do not use previously stamped plans, as the submitted plans need to depict the work which is subject to the application. With regards to the information, treat the application like an application for building consent, as the more detail, the easier and speedier we can make a decision.

Can I apply for building consent – even if the work is exempt?


You can simply apply for a Building Consent and inspections will also be applied. You will on successful completion of the project also have a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC).

Does exempt building work have to be undertaken by a licensed building practitioner?


The building work, however, must be carried out in accordance with the Building Code. Further, regardless of whether a building consent is required, the building work must comply with other relevant legislation, including the:

  • Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drain layers Act 2006
  • Electricity Act 1992
  • Resource Management Act 1991; and
  • Fire Service Act 1975
  • District Plan

If you are not satisfied with decisions made by council you can apply for a determination from the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment.

Guidance on Determinations (Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment)



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