Applying for a Building Consent
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What are Building Consents?
A Building Consent is approval that building work, as it is proposed, complies with the NZ Building Code and the Building Act 2004.
It is a legislated quality control process.
When Building Consent is required for building work, doing building work without a prior Building Consent is illegal. It could put people or property at risk. It affects the ability to insure, finance and sell property.
Who do Building Consents benefit?
They benefit current and future property owners, occupants, users, neighbours, visitors and society at large. They ensure proposed building work is, for example, structurally sound, plumbing and drainage is sanitary and minimum fire standards met.
Building Consents benefits those undertaking specific parts of building work, by ensuring that the designs and materials used in previous, concurrent and following stages of construction should work together when brought together.
Associated building inspections ensure Building Code and legislative requirements are met at certain points in construction, before subsequent work can start. This avoids much of the blame game that could arise between different contractors.
They benefit designers by checking their work meets legislative requirements, associated guidance, NZ standards, materials and installation requirements, current building industry training and practices, etc.
When is a Building Consent required?
Most, but not all building work, requires a Building Consent. Examples include:
- New residential buildings
- New mixed-use and commercial buildings
- Alterations/extensions to existing buildings
- Change of use of buildings
- Relocation of buildings
- New swimming pool fencing
- Retaining walls
- Outbuildings, garages and carports
- Plumbing and drainage work
- New, and alterations to, solid fuel heaters
- Decks over 1.5m
For detailed guidance to what is exempt refer to the MBIE guide (PDF).
After reading the guidance on this and the MBIE Building Performance website, if you are still unsure if your project requires a Building Consent contact a local building design professional in the first instance. If they are then unable to clarify, contact the Building Services team specifying that you have a technical question.
Where is more information on specific application types?
There are specific requirements for these applications:
- Alterations to existing buildings
- Change of use of a building
- Subdivision of property containing existing building(s)
- Extending the specified intended life of a building
More information is here.
There are different documentation requirements for commercial-classed and residential-classed building work.
There may be specific documentation to complete for proposed:
- Heaters and burners
- Connecting to council water, wastewater (piped sewerage) and/or stormwater
- Driveways over council property to a road
- Building over two or more allotments
- Retaining walls
- Swimming pools
- Onsite wastewater disposal systems
Application forms, documentation and guides are here.
When can I start building work?
If Building Consent is required, no physical building work can be started until QLDC has granted and issued a Building Consent.
If a Resource Consent is required under the Resource Management Act 1991, then building work cannot start whilst under a Section 37 certificate, under the Building Act 2004.
If any site or building work is started before this, it is illegal building work and you are liable for a substantial fine.
Restricted Building Work
Restricted Building Work is work which can be described as critical to the integrity of a building.
All Restricted building work is required to be identified in a Building Consent application, under the Building Act 2004.
Restricted Building Work is residential design, construction or alteration work that:
- Requires a Building Consent, and
- Involves or affects a home’s:
- Primary structure
- Certain fire safety design
Restricted Building Work can only be done, or supervised, by tradespeople who are Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs). LBPs must only work within the scope of their license class. You can search for an LBPs can be searched through MBIE's LBP Register.
How do I apply for a Building Consent?
- Information sheets (ISs), fees calculators and application forms (AFs) to guide you through requirements are here. Choose whether it is a residential or commercial project that is proposed.
- Provide all the specified forms, calculator spreadsheets, check sheets and supporting documents specified.
- Ensure you save documents in the right format, with the right file name and with the required contents.
- With some application types, all documents have to be collated into a single PDF document.
- Upload what is required here.
- The application then undergoes initial checking, then if accepted, is put in a queue to be allocated for processing by a Building Control Officer (BCO).
Do I need a PIM?
A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) may assist in preventing delays, and reducing costs, in the design before the Building Consent stage.
More information is here.
What happens if I provide incomplete information?
The application will be rejected or processing will stop. Both of these will delay the earliest possible start date for building work.
- If missing a document, entries, or not filled out, the application will be rejected at initial checks. These are under Section 45 of the Building Act 2004.
- If rejected, the processing clock has not started.
- A BC number is also not assigned, so payment cannot be taken.
- If missing or addition information is required to make a decision, a Request for Information (RFI) is sent.
- At this point the processing clock stops until all of the required information is supplied.
- For example, plans have to be of sufficient quality and detail.
What happens if I delay fee payment?
Application processing does not start until Building Services receives payment confirmation from the finance arm.
If the application is acceptable at initial screening, this is confirmed by email. At this point provide the required fee payment to start application processing using the Building Consent (BC) number.
What does processing involve?
The application is assessed to make sure QLDC can be 'satisfied on reasonable grounds' that the provisions of the NZ Building Code would be met, if the building work were properly completed in accordance with the plans and specifications that accompanied the application.
If so, QLDC is able to grant a Building Consent, and may do so subject to conditions. More information on conditions are under Application Forms & Guides here.
Once granted, QLDC pulls the required forms and information together to be able to issue the Building Consent. This includes the inspections required and access for them as a condition of consent, a Project Information Memorandum (PIM) (if applied for), the Specified Systems required, etc.
More information is on the MBIE Building Performance website here.
How long does processing take?
Once the application is accepted, it is lodged in our system, then placed in a queue to be allocated to a Building Control Officer for processing.
After application acceptance, there is a 20 working days for the processing of a Building Consent.
Delays associated with requesting further information (RFI) will result in the processing clock being stopped until the requested information has been received. You can keep track of any RFI correspondence that is communicated between QLDC and your agent through our eDocs system.
Be aware - legislation dictates the processing clock stops for a specific period over Christmas and the New Year. Applicants should plan that limited processing will be taking place during this time.
Applicants are advised to get applications in early and factor this into project preparation.
Over this period there are three non-processing days, defined by legislation:
- Friday 19 April 2019 - Good Friday
- Monday 22 April 2019 - Easter Monday
- Thursday 25 April 2019 - ANZAC Day
Here the processing clock is stopped, in addition to Saturdays and Sundays.
Where do I find the required forms?
Further guidance, forms and check sheets are here. There are specific pages for Building Consent application types.
What if I wish to appeal a decision?
To dispute a decision (to issue or otherwise), an application, along with its fee, can be made for a determination to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
How long do I have after Building Consent issue?
There are timeframes to work to for starting building work and applying for a Code Compliance Certificate towards project completion.
More information is here.
Information on complaints is here.