Building Consents overview

A building consent confirms that plans and specifications for the proposed building work meet, as reasonably as we can determine, the requirements of the New Zealand code and Building Act 2004.

This ensures that any building work is safe, durable and does not endanger the health of property owners, users and neighbouring properties. 

Most building projects require a building consent before work is started. The consent includes building work and site preparation, plumbing or drainage. 

If you don't get a building consent before starting work, you and anybody else involved in the build could face prosecution.

Other consents may be required

When you have your building consent you may still require other permissions such as a Resource Consent, before you can start building. These will be clearly shown on your building consent documents, so please read your consenting documents when issued.

If your project has an impact on the environment you may also need a Resource Consent or other permissions from council for vehicle crossings and connections to water or sewerage, or other matters.

Rates impact

Building work can increase your rates and incur other charges – so check these things before you apply! 

This information will help councils, BCAs, engineers, architects and designers across New Zealand understand the 'good ground' change, assist mapping liquefaction-prone-ground in their region and support consistent design of resilient foundations when the changes come into effect.

Some parts of New Zealand are prone to greater levels of seismic risk than others, therefore the level of mapping required may vary across regions. The level of mapping may also vary with the type of activity or the development scenario.

The Building Performance team will start to raise awareness with designers, engineers and architects so they are prepared and organised when submitting building consent applications from 29 November 2021.

You can find more information on the Building Performance website or you can email the Building Performance team from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Ensuring new buildings can withstand liquefaction effects (building.govt.nz)

Email: buildingfeedback@mbie.govt.nz

A building consent is usually (but not always) needed before an existing building is altered. It depends on the extent of the work being undertaken.  

Alterations can include:

  • increasing or decreasing the floor area
  • making or closing an opening
  • erecting or demolishing a wall
  • and more.

Find out if a building consent is needed

Before you start alterations check whether building consent is required.

More information and guidance can be found on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website. 

Additions and Alterations Guidance (building.govt.nz)

More than simple repairs and maintenance

Alterations beyond simple repairs and maintenance will often require consent. In the case of a detached dwelling or an outbuilding this is generally straightforward.

If the building is used by the public, the process is more complex so professional advice in the planning stages of the project is recommended.

The building consent can only be granted we are satisfied that the building will:

  • comply with the Building Code requirements for people with disabilities and means of escape from fire (as required)
  • continue to comply with other building code requirements to at least the same extent as before the alteration.

Under Section 112 of the Building Act, if a consent is reqyuired for alterations to one part of a building, upgrade provisions for the rest of the whole building are triggered.

Section 112 Building Act 2004 (legislation.govt.nz)

Commercial buildings

When applying for building consent to alter an existing commercial building, you will need to provide a suitable report covering means of escape from fire (fire report) and access and facilities for people with disabilities.

We suggest that when altering a commercial building that you ensure the design professionals have appropriate skills, experience and competence to make the application. This may avoid your application being suspended or refused.

Earthquake prone buildings

If you are altering a building that is subject to an earthquake prone building Notice, section 133AT of the Act provides additional upgrade requirements.

Managing earthquake-prone buildings (building.govt.nz)

Buildings that are open to the public or are places of work, including schools, colleges and hospitals, have extra compliance needs due to the type of building and numbers of people using the building. 

These buildings often need “specified systems” to monitor and ensure users' safety, like fire alarms and ventilation systems. 

Such systems need to be detailed in your application showing:

  • system type
  • location in the building
  • their performance standard
  • how they are to be inspected and maintained. 

When issuing your Building Consent, we provide a draft Compliance Schedule which helps you to consider the future maintenance and inspection requirements for the systems in your building.

When the Code Compliance Certificate is issued and finalised, a Compliance Schedule will also be issued for the building which will form part of your Building Warrant of Fitness regime.

Note: no specified systems may be added, removed or altered in a building without a building consent.

Amendment to compliance schedule form(PDF, 106KB) 

Find out more about your obligations:

The Compliance Schedule can be amended at any time by the building owner or Council but usually the amendment is related to an application for a Building Consent. 

Not all building work requires a building consent. Some low-risk work may be able to be carried out without a building consent under Schedule 1 of the Building Act. 

There are two types of exemptions: 

  • work that is specifically contained in Schedule 1 of the Building Act
  • works that would normally require a building consent but we have agreed to exempt the work after considering an exemption application.

All building work, whether or not a building consent is required, must comply with the building code.

Full details are contained in the Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004,. 

Building Act 2004  - Schedule 1 (legislation.govt.nz)

You must obtain any required permissions or consents before work starts on your project. 

Find out more about the exemption process.

Building Consent exemptions

Note: Applications for exemption must be applied for before any works are started.

Under the Building Act 2004, Council is required to work within the following timeframes:

  • Application for PIM only / PIM Prior - 20 working days to issue
  • Application for Building Consent only (S45 Building Act 2004) - 20 working days to grant
  • Application for Building Consent (MultiProof) -10 working days to grant
  • Application for PIM and Building Consent together (S45 Building Act 2004) - 20 working days to issue the PIM and grant the BC

If your application is incomplete or we find that more information is required, the “clock” is stopped until all the required information or details are supplied.

Working days 

Working days are defined under Section 7 of the Building Act 2004.

The normal national and provincial holidays are also removed from the amount of processing days, as is the Christmas holiday period (days notified by the BCA or Council).

Other timeframes

Your consent will lapse if you have not started to build within 12 months of your consent being issued. This effectively means that you cannot build and have to apply again. In these circumstances money will be refunded, less the costs of processing to this point.

If you have not applied for a Code Compliance Certificate within 2 years of granting of your consent we have to make a decision whether to issue or refuse a Code Compliance Certificate at this time. This does not prevent you from applying at a later date. This application will also incur fees when applied for.

We will remind you as these deadlines approach and advise the steps that you can take, like extending the timeframes.

Initial fees are calculated and payable at the time of application.

You can estimate your Building Consent costs using our calculator.  You can also read about additional fees and how to pay online.

Building Consent calculator

Applications for connections to services will usually need to be approved by Council before a building consent can be granted.  Apply for these before the building consent.

Utility connections include:

We are responsible for ensuring that the Building Act and any other associated regulations are implemented and followed in the Whangārei District. 

We are also involved in a range of other activities that are building related, for example:

  • Building Warrants of Fitness
  • fencing of swimming pools
  • dangerous and insanitary buildings
  • undertaking enforcement action in connection with illegal building works 

We aim to work with our customers to get a safe and successful outcome. We offer help and advice, so please feel free to contact us if you have any building related queries.

Building consents are issued under the Building Act 2004. The consent confirms that plans and specifications for proposed building work meet the requirements of the New Zealand Building Act 2004 and the  New Zealand Building Code compliance.

New Zealand Building Act 2004 (legislation.govt.nz)

New Zealand Building Code (building.govt.nz)

If you wish to make a complaint, please follow the link below. 

Compliments, complaints and feedback