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Building Consents

Image for the Building Consents page.
This page contains general information about building consents along with advice about whether a consent is needed or not.
Updated: 12/05/2020 8:12 a.m.

The above video explains what a Building Consent is, when you need one and how to get one.


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

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

You can only start your building work when you have a building consent and that any other permissions or requirements, like the need for a Resource Consent, have also been given. If these are outstanding when we issue the consent you will be informed in the consent pack and no inspections, for example, can be conducted until these have been resloved.​

You may also need a resource consent and other permissions from council for items like vehicle crossings, connections to utilities like water or sewerage.

Applications for connections to services will usually need to be approved by council before a building consent can be granted, so apply for these before the building consent if you can.

The Building department does not handle these applications so use the links below to check out the requirement of other parts pf council.

Note also building work may also affect your rates – so check these things before you apply!

Utilities connections, such as:

A building consent can only be issued in advance of any work taking place.

If your project has an impact on the environment you may need a Resource Consent. For more information, follow the link below.


Our role

Council is registered as a Building Consent Authority under the Building Act 2004 and we have responsibility for ensuring that the Building Act and any other associated regulations are implemented and followed in the Whangarei 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,
  • earthquake prone buildings and
  • undertaking enforcement action in connection with illegal building works.

We aim to work with our customers and are willing to offer help and advice so please feel free to contact us if you have any building related queries.


When a building consent is needed

Most building projects require a building consent before any work is started. The consent includes not only the building work but also any work related to site preparation, plumbing or drainage.

If you do not obtain a building consent before starting work, it will cause problems later in the project and could lead to anybody involved as property owners or tradespersons facing prosecution.



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

There are two types of exemptions:

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

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 guidance document, follow the link below.

Building Act 2004 Schedule 1 (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website)

Although a building consent is not needed for exempt building works, your project will still need to meet the requirements of any other regulations such as the District Plan.

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

To find out about our District Plan, follow the link below.

Application for exemptions

Complete the application form and submit it to us. Work may not start until approval has been granted. If approval is not granted then you will need a building consent before any work can start.

Applications are assessed individually and we suggest you contact us for advice before submitting your application. To download the application form, follow the link below.

Building Consent Exemption Application [70kb]


Alterations to existing buildings

What is an alteration to existing building?

Changes made to an existing building; for example, increasing or decreasing the floor area, making or closing an opening, erecting or demolishing a wall etc.

Do I need to apply for a building consent?

Usually yes. This will, however, depend on the extent of work being undertaken - check the guidance on building works that do not require consent.

These will require consent if the work is more than simple "repairs and maintenance". In the case of a detached dwelling or an outbuilding this is generally straightforward. Should the building be a building open to the public either for free or by way of a charge, it can be much more complex and seeking professional advice in the planning stages of the project is recommended.

The building consent can only be granted where the building consent authority/territorial authority is satisfied that the building will:

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

The Act, section 112, clarifies that if part of a building is altered, upgrade provisions for the rest of the whole building are triggered.

When applying for building consent to alter and 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.

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

Therefore, when altering a commercial building we suggest 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.

Section 112 Building Act 2004 (NZ Legislation website)

Additions and Alterations Guidance (Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website)


Commercial and Industrial Buildings

These can be categorised as buildings that are open to the public or places of work, including schools, colleges and hospitals.

These buildings 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 user’s safety like fire alarms and ventilation systems.

These systems will have to be detailed in your application showing what they are, the type, where they are in the building their performance standard and how they are to be inspected and maintained.

When issuing your Building Consent, we will as part of this information, provide a draft Compliance Schedule which will enable you to consider the future maintenance and inspection requirements for the systems in your building.

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

If your building contains specified systems you will be required to issue an annual Building Warrant of Fitness. For further information on these buildings and your obligations check out the information linked below:

Building (Specified Systems, Change of Use and Earthquake Prone Buildings) Regulations 2005 (Legislation website)

Compliance Schedules Guidance (Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website)

Building Warrant of Fitness (Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment website)

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.

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

To download the relevant application form, select from the links below.

Building Compliance Schedule Application [595kb]

Building Compliance Schedule Amendment Application [322kb]

If your building contains specified systems you will be required to issue an annual Building Warrant of Fitness.

For further information about Building Warrant of Fitness, follow the link below.


How long does it take to get a PIM or a building consent?

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

Working days are defined under Section 7 of the Building Act 2004. The normal national and provincial holidays are also removed from the time frame and the period notified by the BCA or Council over the Christmas holiday period.

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


Other Time frames

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, we, however, have to make a decision.

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



Initial fees are calculated and payable at the time of application. The calculation is a deposit and further charges may be incurred if additional time is required to process the application or if extra inspections are carried out through the building process.

We have a schedule of fees and charges for building consents but actual costs will vary dependent on the size and nature of the project, the number of inspections required and the quality of the supporting information supplied with the application.

Additional fees for the processing of an application will be invoiced when granting the building consent. Fees for inspections carried out, additional to those paid for at the time of application, will be invoiced and must be paid before Code Compliance Certificate will be issued.

Follow the links below to see our Schedule of Fees and Charges or the Building Fees Calculator.

The invoice will need to be paid before the application clock is started. You may pay directly at customer services by cash, Eftpos or credit card, or use our internet banking system.



Through the process of consenting, construction and even issuance of a Code Compliance Certificate, you may wish to complain about either the service or decisions made by the building team.

If you do not agree with decisions made and you believe that the matter should be considered outside of council then the determination process offered by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment can be considered.


Contact us

For any technical enquiries please contact either the duty building officer or a building inspector on site.


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