What is a Building Consent?

A Building Consent is a formal approval that confirms that proposed building work will comply with the New Zealand Building Code and Building Act 2004. It ensures that the work is structurally sound, plumbing and drainage is sanitary and that minimum fire standards have been met. Work carried out without a building consent is illegal and could put people or your property at risk. It could also affect your insurance cover or property sale negotiations.


When do you need a building consent?

A building consent is required for most building work, for example:

  • New residential and commercial buildings 
  • Alterations/extensions to existing buildings
  • Relocation or change of use of buildings
  • New Swimming pools and alterations to swimming pools 
  • Retaining walls, 
  • Outbuildings, garages and carports
  • Plumbing and drainage work
  • New and alterations to solid fuel heaters 
  • Demolition work
  • Replacing a roof with a different material 
  • Relocating your hot water cylinder to another position.
  • Decks over 1.5 m
  • Some shade sails.
  • Solar panels.

If a Building Consent is required, no physical building work can be started until the Council has issued a Building Consent, (and Resource Consent if applicable). If you start any site or building work before this, it is illegal building work and you are liable for a fine.

If you are unsure if your project requires a building consent please contact the Building Services team

Some work is exempt from needing a building consent. For more information on what is exempt and how to apply for an exemption click here.

What is the Building Consent Process?

Applying for a Building Consent can be a complicated process. In order to help navigate the process, we aim to provide clear guidance information and an open and transparent approach to consent processing. We also aim to provide responsive customer support for any questions you may have.

The building consent process beings with the submitting of an application and it formally ends with the issuing of a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC). An overview of the key stages involved is as follows:

Restricted Building Work

Restricted Building Work is work which is critical to the integrity of a building. It makes sure the building is structurally sound and weathertight, that’s why it can only be done or supervised by tradespeople who are Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs). LBPs are assessed before getting a licence and have to keep their knowledge up to date to keep their licence and they must only work within the scope of their license class. You can search for an LBP through the LBP register on the LBP website.

Restricted building work is residential design, construction or alteration work that:

  • requires a building consent
  • involves or affects a home’s: 
    • Primary structure
    • Weathertightness
    • Certain fire safety design.

The Building Act 2004 requires that all Restricted Building Work that is undertaken is clearly identified as part of your Building Consent Application.

Building on land subject to Natural Hazards

The Queenstown Lakes district covers some challenging terrain in which natural hazards do exist. Under section 71 of the Building Act (2004) a building consent can be refused if these natural hazards pose a risk to the land the building work is to be carried out on, or the building work will accelerate or worsen the risk of the natural hazard occurring.

QLDC strongly recommends that a PIM report is obtained to help you decide whether your planning and building project is possible and practical. It will also help you and your designer create effective plans that mitigate any natural hazard risk.

Who is responsible for applying for the Building Consent?

Usually, a building company, architect, designer or builder will lodge the Building Consent application on your behalf as your agent. Alternatively, you can apply for the Building Consent yourself, however you will need a sound technical knowledge of the Building Code to do so. MBIE provides good guidance on the requirements associated with applying for a Building Consent.

To complete the building consent documentation and checklists you will need to specify the means of compliance for all clauses of the building code, so an understanding of Acceptable Solutions, Verification Methods and Alternate Solutions is required.

Please note that even if an agent is acting on your behalf, the Owner is still accountable for ensuring an application for Building Consent for the building work is issued prior to any work commencing.

If you are an Owner-Builder, and your project is a dwelling (restricted building work), please read the information on Owner-Builder Exemptions.

Lapsing a Building Consent (12 month Limit)

Section 52 of the Building Act 2004 states that a Building Consent lapses and is of no effect if the building work to which it relates is not commenced within 12 months from date of issue. However, section 52 of the Act provides that the BCA can allow it to remain valid for a further period at the discretion of QLDC.

For this reason, at 11 months after the issue of the consent (if we have no record of work commencing) we will send out a reminder letter, advising the nominated contact person that the 12 month period is nearing. The letter asks the contact person to either advisee that work commenced or alternatively apply for an extension to the 12 month period. If no response is received, the consent will be given a status of “lapsed” and shall have no effect.  A new consent would need to be obtained if the work were to take place in the future.