Our building consents team places great importance on providing good customer care at all stages throughout the building process. To achieve this, we;
- Advise on how to meet the qualifications on the Building Code at the application stage.
- Provide onsite consultation during the construction stage.
- Help customers to ensure the building work can be issued with a Code Compliance Certificate when it is completed.
Click here for a copy of the Building Consent Application guide.
Is a Building Consent necessary?
A 'Building Consent' is a document authorising specified building work to occur. Some work (as specified in Schedule One of the Building Act 2004) is exempt from the requirement to obtain building consent, but building consent must be obtained for all other building work.
A building consent is necessary for;
- Plumbing and drainage work
- Structural building (including new buildings)
- Demolition and relocation of existing buildings
- Various other categories of building work
Please contact our building consents team on 0800 801 350 for further advice about building consents.
Making a Building Consent application
If the necessary information is properly submitted, together with accurate and well presented drawings, then applications will be processed quickly and efficiently.
Design work involving building structure, weather tight elements or fire safety systems for residential buildings must generally be done by a licensed designer and a certificate of design work provided to Council.
How does Council process Building Consent applications?
Before Council accepts an application for a building consent, it is checked by our building control staff to make sure that it contains all of the information necessary to comply with the Building Code.
Applications that are sent by post to Council, or dropped in to one of the Council Service Centres, can only be checked when they reach the Regulatory Services section at Council's head office in Balclutha.
Applicants wishing to personally deliver their applications to the Council's Regulatory Services section will need to wait until an officer is able to see them and check that the application is complete. This helps up to avoid unnecessary delays further on in the process. If applicants do not have time to wait, it is suggested that they phone and make an appointment to ensure a staff member is available to seem them.
Once an application is checked to make sure that it is complete, it is entered into Council's computer system. Provided that nothing is missing and that no further information is needed, a Building Consent will normally be issued within 20 working days. Where a national approval has been issued (multi-proof), applications will be processed within 10 working days.
The first step in processing an application for Building Consent is to produce a PIM (Project Information Memorandum) or TA assessment for the project. This includes details of the property, the planning and other rules that apply to the project and the location. This information allows the Council to check that the application information is correct. It must also meet both local and regional planning rules. There may be special characteristics that the building work must meet because of wind, earthquake, snow, corrosion or hazard zones. These checks enable the Council to see if any other approvals are needed before the consent can be issued or before work can start. If these issues are identified during the PIM or TA Assessment process, the application may be put 'on hold' i.e. the processing of the application may be suspended, until the issue is resolved or a condition or certificate may be put on the building consent.
A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) provides an applicant with information relevant to the proposed building work, other than the normal requirements under the Building Act 2004. This information enables the applicant to assess the feasibility of the project before proceeding with a Building Consent application. It is to assist you in providing the information required to obtain a Building Consent.
Please note: no building work is to be commenced until your building consent has been issued.
What you need to provide:
- The drawing shall be a plan view accurately locating and dimensioning the new building works relative to the boundaries
- Bulk and location drawing
- Show building outline and the layout of the rooms
- Show the elevations of the main exterior walls with heights above ground level
- Show setback distances from the boundaries and other buildings
- Show floor areas (in m2) of all existing and proposed buildings, separate areas are to be given for detached buildings and any top floors.
- Show the area of the site on the plan.
The PIM may identify that you need to obtain other authorisation, e.g.
If you proposed building does not comply with the District Plan then a Resource Consent will have to be obtained.
If you intent to build in a flood-prone area, you will require a report from the Otago Regional Council.
Building Code Assessment
After the planning checks have occurred and any additional steps or approvals have been identified, the application is passed to the Processing Officer to check that the application complies with the requirements of the Building Code. Usually only one Building Officer will be carrying out application processing, and any matters regarding an application must be discussed with the Processing Officer or the Building Manager. Our other Building Officers may not be involved in approving the application.
If the plans and specifications fail to satisfy the requirements of the Building Code, the Processing Officer will contact the applicant or their agent to ask for more information. You may choose to comply with the "approved documents" of the New Zealand Building Code, use an engineer to produce a specific design, or apply to have an alternative solution accepted by the Council. The application will be provided to Council at this stage if initial documents did not comply with the Building Code. When applications have complex or unusual building types or methods, they may not be able to be processed by Council staff, and we will arrange for a specialist to assess compliance. Once the Processing Officer is satisfied the project will comply with the Building Code, plans will be stamped and signed, and approval will be given to grant the Building Consent.
Final Checking and After Issue
A final check is made to ensure that the application satisfies all of the relevant parts of the Building Code, that any other necessary approvals have been obtained, and that all relevant conditions and advice notes have been added into the Consent. The Building Consent will then be issued.
The building consent is sent to the applicant, with a copy of the approved plans, a list of the inspections that will be needed during construction, and any conditions, advice notes or certificates relevant to the consent.
Please note: No building work may be carried out until the Building Consent has been issued.
If building work is not started within 12 months (or another agreed timeframe) from the time the consent is issued, the Building Consent may lapse. Council commonly gives a 12 months extension of Building Consents. If this has occurred, it will be stated in the Building Consent.
Building work on foundations, structure and weather tightness systems for residential buildings must be carried out or supervised by a licensed builder, and provide a record of work.
Inspection Stages, Booking and Process
A list of the inspections that will be needed during construction is included when the consent is issued. Two working days notice is required of the intended commencement of construction, and a minimum of one working day's notice for all other inspections. Inspections must be booked by phoning Council's Regulatory Services Clerk (03 419 0232). Occasionally inspection visits will not be able to be made at the requested time if they conflict with other appointments. If the owner/agent or tradesperson has a particular time that the inspection must occur, it is recommended that they give a longer period of notice when booking the inspection.
The inspection sheet gives details of the various stages at which inspections are necessary. If the work is not ready when the inspection takes place, another visit will be required and additional charges may be imposed. If work has progressed beyond of these stages, it may not be possible to fully inspect.
Without a full inspection record, or if acceptable an alternative means of certifying work, a Code Compliance Certificate will not be issued. Specialist inspections may be required for complex work. You may nominate your own engineer to carry out the inspection and provide a certificate to Council. If this is not arranged during application processing, Council will arrange the inspection at your cost.
The Building Officer will check that the building work is in accordance with the Building Consent application, and the requirements of the Building Act 2004 and Building Code. All building sites must be safe to visit.
The approved consent documents must be on site at the time of the inspection so that they can be referred to, and it is expected that the owner/agent or tradesperson will also be on site. The outcome of the inspection will be recorded on the Council's inspection record with the consent documents, and discussed with the site representatives attending the inspection.
If the approved consent documents on site do not show that the inspection has been signed off and approved, and the owner/agent or tradesperson is not advised by the Building Officer of a satisfactory outcome to the inspection, then it is the responsibility of the owner to contact the Council and check that the inspection has been signed off and approved before proceeding with further building work.
Building work that does not comply with the consent documents can result in a verbal or written instruction from the Building Officer. In some cases, an amendment application may be made to reflect the actual building work, and provided it can be shown that the requirements of the Building Code and other requirements are met, this is likely to be issued. Major amendments (involving the building footprint or multiple building code clauses) are not able to be approved through the amendment process, and must be processed as a new application. When the Building Code is unlikely to be met, a stop work direction may be given, or a notice to fix issued.
Code of Compliance Certificates
Normally the first step towards obtaining certificate is for the owner to complete and give to the Council an "Advice of completion of Building Work". The advice of completion of Building work form is supplied to the applicant when the building consent is issued and should be returned as soon as possible after building works have been completed.
The form is;
- First - A statement that all or part of the building work that is relevant to a particular building consent is completed; and
- Secondly - A request to issue a Code Compliance Certificate
When the building work and all necessary inspections have been completed, it is the responsibility of the property owner to apply to the Council for a certificate. In order for the certificate to be issued, all inspections must have been satisfactorily completed, all fees must be paid and all necessary supporting information must be provided. Examples of supporting information could include an electrical certificate of compliance, producer statements or "as built" plans.
Applications for certificates must normally be processed by the Council within 20 working days. Where outstanding inspections have yet to be completed, or supporting information has still to be supplied, Council will normally put an application 'on hold' rather than issue a refusal.
A Code Compliance Certificate is a statement by the Council that, at the time of issue, the building work included in the consent complied with the requirements of the Building Act and the Building Code as they applied when the consent was issued. The certificate does not cover work that was not included within the consent, and so is not a general statement that all building work on the property complies with the Building Act or Building Code.
You should note that if an application for a Code Compliance Certificate is not received by Council within two years of the Building Consent being issued, Council may decline to issue a Code Compliance Certificate.
A very commonly used standard form of agreement for the sale and purchase of real estate contains a vendor's undertaking that if the vendor has been responsible for any building work, the necessary permits and consents were obtained and "where appropriate, a code compliance certificate was issued for those works". See the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand/Auckland District Law Society Agreement for Sale and Purchase of Real Estate, 6th Ed cl 6).
If a declaration in a sale agreement misrepresents the facts, the consequences for the vendor, as well as for the purchaser, can be serious, and the agreement may be contested. The principle of "buyer beware" does not apply to agreements containing such undertakings by the vendor. A building can be sold without a certificate but this needs to be acknowledged by both parties.
Note: There is no provision under the Building Act for territorial authorities to issue retrospective consents for work that has been undertaken without the necessary building consent.