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General exemptions

Some building work doesn’t require a consent such as patios at ground level, small sheds and low decks. These exceptions to the rule are laid out by MBIE and below we provide a few example parameters. We also recommend reading the links provided to see if they apply to you.

Exemptions from a Building Consent

The Building Act 2004 has a list of building work that does not require a building consent like patios at ground level, small sheds, low decks, maintenance on your house etc. This information is contained in Schedule One of the Building Act. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Building Performance Team have developed a tool to answer a few questions for homeowners to see if planned project needs a building consent, or if the project could qualify as exempt building work. You can use the online tool by visiting - Build it

You are likely to need a building consent for any structural building work, new plumbing and drainage, retaining walls over 1.5 meters, fences over 2.5 meters, swimming pools greater than 35,000 litres, decks more than 1.5 meters above ground level and sheds over 30 square metres. You'll also need one before installing a woodburner or a commercial aircon system.

Even if you don’t need a building consent all works must be completed in accordance with the Building Code i.e. Section 17 of the Building Act 2004 states that all building work must comply with the Building Code to the extent required by the Act, whether or not a building consent is required in respect of that building work.

Independent legal or technical advice should be sought to establish whether proposed building work is exempt. Professionally prepared plans of completed exempt work, complete with a covering letter including a list of contractors, should be submitted to Council to update the property file. This report, if deemed acceptable will be lodged on the file.

Other legislation to consider

While the Building Act provides for exemptions, there might be other laws that you need to comply with. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

Under the Building Act, it’s an offence to intentionally carryout work that requires a building consent without one, and it’s regarded as illegal work. It is often costly to set right and may put people’s safety or property at risk. Illegal building works may also impact on your insurance cover or house sale negotiations.


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