Before You Build

Before you start any project its best that you invest as much thought and research as possible into the design requirements that will ensure your project is a success. The following information details some of the considerations and options that you should investigate prior to applying for a Building Consent.   

Building over the Building Code minimum

The NZ Building Code has minimum requirements that must be satisfied in a building project. It makes sense to exceed these minimum requirements to make your home warmer, drier, more accessible and comfortable.

This video features some design considerations:

Other legislation

The Building Act, and the Building Code under it, is not the only legislation to take into account when considering a build.

For example, the Resource Management Act 1991 should be considered, amongst others. It may be that your intended build requires a Resource Consent, in addition to a Building Consent.

What is a PIM?

A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) is a report purchased, and issued by QLDC, prior to, or at the same time as, a Building Consent.

A PIM is recommended, if proposing building work. It helps in deciding whether the planning and building project is possible and practical. It assists the designer to create effective plans.

For difficult sites or larger projects, such as new commercial or industrial buildings, a PIM assists in establishing the feasibility and design. It may prevent delays and reduce costs in the design before getting to the Building Consent stage.

More information is here.

Connecting to water services

If property or building work is proposed to connect to water, piped sewerage (wastewater) and/or stormwater, then a connection to council services application is required. Find more information here.

Building driveways

If intending to build a driveway that crosses council land, then a connection to council services application is also required. It is the same form as connecting to water services. Find more information here.

Building on land subject to natural hazards

A Building Consent can be refused if natural hazards pose a risk to the land the building work is to be carried out on, or work will accelerate or worsen the risk of the natural hazard occurring. This is under Section 71 of the Building Act 2004.

QLDC strongly recommends a PIM to assist in early feasibility decision making. It also assists the designer create effective plans that mitigate any natural hazard risk.

Building Consent exemptions

Some building work is exempt from needing a Building Consent. This is under Schedule 1 of the Building Act. Consider these requirements phase when preparing the building project.

More information is here.

Who is responsible for applying for the Building Consent?

It is common for a designer, architect or building company to lodge a Building Consent application on behalf of the owner, acting as their agent.

Alternatively, an owner can apply for the Building Consent themselves, but they require a sound technical knowledge of the Building Code to do so. To support this, MBIE provides guidance on applying for a Building Consent.

To complete Building Consent documentation and checklists, the applicant 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.

Even if an agent is acting on their behalf, the owner is still accountable for ensuring the Building Consent for the building work is issued, before any building work starts.

For owner-builders building a home, reading guidance on Owner-Builder Exemptions.

Requirements for new subdivisions

It is strongly recommended the subdivision certification is completed before finalising design details and starting building work. Starting it before is done so at the owner's risk.

QLDC accepts no liability for any changes resulting from the subdivision certification that may result in additional changes and costs to you.

A subdivision is not complete until certification is completed, under Sections 223 and 224c of the Resource Management Act 1991. Prior to this, individual site requirements may be subject to change.

Commonly, assessments are required through the subdivision process, to:

  • Establish how a site is serviced
  • Finalise finished floor levels to avoid flooding
  • Establish foundation requirements
  • Establish if building levels are required to increase to ensure servicing can work effectively.

If subdivision is not completed before building start, and titles are not issued, any building constructed may have to be retrospectively amended, at your own cost.

Ongoing conditions may be registered as Consent Notices, which will be finalised prior to the subdivision that will create the land title. If the building does not comply with the yet to be confirmed Consent Notice requirements, the building may need to change. The subdivision consent may also be varied before it is finalized, which may change any requirements of the original consent.