The Christchurch City Council operates as a Building Consent Authority (BCA), providing building owners and contractors building consents for work requiring approval and inspection under the Building Act 2004.
We can provide you with information on when you will require building consent, how to apply and the individual application packs for specific works.
A building consent is the formal approval issued by a Building Consent Authority (BCA) to ensure certain works meet the requirements of the Building Act 2004, Building Regulations and New Zealand Building Code.
You cannot undertake any building work that requires a building consent without this approval first.
Applicants who are proposing projects for commercial buildings, the Port Hills, or multi-residential dwellings should check whether they would benefit from having a pre-application meeting.
About the process
A big part of your project is getting a building consent. This video provides you with a helpful overview of the building consent process.
Senior Building Consent Officer Ben Healy introduces some of the Council staff who work behind the scenes, and provides some useful tips on how you can get the go ahead.
Why you need a building consent
The Building Act 2004 provides for the regulation of building work, the establishment of a licensing regime for building practitioners and the setting of performance standards to ensure that:
- People who use buildings can do so safely and without endangering their health.
- Buildings have attributes that contribute appropriately to the health, physical independence, and wellbeing of the people who use them.
- People who use a building can escape from the building if it is on fire.
- Buildings are designed, constructed, and able to be used in ways that promote sustainable development.
To achieve this purpose the Building Act 2004 requires anyone proposing to do building work to obtain a building consent from a Building Consent Authority before commencing building work. A Project Information Memoranda (PIM) is optional.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Building and Housing Group (MBIE) is the government department responsible for administering the Building Act 2004.
When a building consent is required
The following are examples of work requiring a building consent:
When a building consent is not required
Schedule 1 of the Building Act lists work that does not need a building consent for low risk and minor works.
Work that is exempt under this initiative will still be required to meet building requirements to ensure it is safe and fit for purpose.
Even though work may be exempt from requiring building consent approval, all work must still comply with District Plan controls and resource consent approval should be obtained where necessary.
Exempt work (with examples) is listed under the Department of Building and Housing’s publication Building work that does not require a building consent [PDF 1.36MB].
What to do before applying for building consent
- Find out if a pre-application meeting would benefit you
The best way to speed up the processing of your application is to provide everything that is needed first time. A pre-application meeting will help you understand what you need to do.
If your application is for a commercial, multi-residential, or Port Hills project you may benefit from a pre-application meeting. This guide tells you what steps you should take to find out. If your application is for a project not listed here please consider that you may still benefit from a pre-application meeting.
The challenges posed by the post-earthquake and rebuild environment mean that there has never been a better time for a pre-application meeting.
Council is expecting up to 10,000 extra building consent applications per year in the next few years. Council wants to make sure that applicants whose projects might come up against some challenges know what to do to complete their application properly from the start. A pre-application meeting is the best way to do this.
- Make sure your application complies with the City Plan
You need to be aware that building consents are subject to other authorisations. When you build you must always comply with your city or district rules, in this case the bylaws of the City Plan.
A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) provides information known to the Council that is relevant to your building proposal. You will need to specifically request one, as issuing these is now optional. If you do not request a PIM and have not fully researched the project prior to making your application for building consent, you may find that your consent is granted, but with restrictions on what work you can actually carry out.
Important reminder: Fire safety - building code clauses effective from 10 April 2013.
From 10 April 2013 please do not use old fire safety compliance documents you may have on file.
The transition period for ‘protection from fire’ building code clauses will come to an end on 9 April 2013.
Any building consent applications accepted from 10 April 2013 must show compliance with the new building code clauses around protection from fire by using one of the seven new acceptable solutions or by using the verification method (VM2).
The old acceptable solution (C/AS1) can no longer be used to show compliance.
Visit MBIE Building and Housing Group for more information.
Important notice: changes to Building Act, from 1 March 2012
From 1 March 2012 new rules under the Building Act 2004 mean that building work affecting structure or weathertightness of a residential building is now ‘restricted’ and can only be done and/or supervised by licensed building practitioners (LBPs).
Note: If your building plans need building consent from your Council, it will be Restricted Building Work. For more information visit the Department of Building & Housing's Build It Right site.
Department of Building and Housing/Christchurch City Council seminar presentation on 1 March 2012 Building Act changes [PDF 1.4MB]
Revised guidance on repairing and rebuilding houses affected by Canterbury earthquake, Dept Building and Housing Nov 2011 [PDF 2MB]
After March 1, your building consent application must include the registration numbers of the LBPs involved in your project.
First up, your designer MUST be an LBP, and must include a memorandum certifying that the design work complies with the Building Code. You can download the LBP Certificate of Design Work form from this DBH page
- Each licensed building practitioner who is subsequently involved in the project (e.g. foundation specialist, carpenter, bricklayer, external plasterer and roofer) must provide their LBP number and a Record of Work to the Council, before a Code Compliance Certificate can be issued. The Record of Work form can be found here.
To check whether your tradesmen are licensed building practitioners, go to DBH's Licensed Building Practitioners page.
Handy tip: To avoid delays in processing your consent, be sure to include the required LBP certification— especially the LBP Designer certification, which is required up front. The details of other LBPs can be added as they are engaged to do the work, if you do not know them at the time of application.
If you have any queries about how to apply for building consent, contact our Customer Centre in the first instance. If you want to discuss technical matters with a Consent Officer you may request a pre-application meeting (please note charges apply).
Phone: (03) 941 8999