We are here to help make sure you meet any legal requirements and get through the building consent process.

From 1 November 2024, all building consent applications will need to include a plan for inter-connected smoke alarms. This new rule applies to all new houses, additions, and alterations. 

Refer to our Heads up brochure [PDF 582KB] for more information.

Apply for your Building Consent using Online Services

If you are not sure whether you need building consent, contact us on 03 941 8999 to discuss this with a duty building consent officer. You may also need to talk to a planner to see if you need resource consent.

You may also want to check out Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE)(external link) for advice and guidelines on building regulation.

Building consents

A building consent is a formal approval to undertake building work in accordance with approved plans and specifications. A building consent establishes that the Council has reasonable grounds to believe that your proposed building work complies with the building code(external link) 

The Building Act 2004(external link) sets out the rules for the undertaking of building work in New Zealand.

These rules 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 well-being of the people who use them.
  • people who use a building can escape from a building if it is on fire.
  • buildings are designed, constructed and able to be used in ways that promote sustainable development.

The building code sets the mandatory performances for building work. All building work must comply with the building code whether or not a building consent is required.

You must have building consent before you start any building work. It's an offence to carry out building work without a building consent if one is required. It could result in fines and possibly the removal of the building work. It may also make it difficult for you to sell the building or get insurance.

Working through the building consent process provides building owners with documented assurance that they have taken all the right steps.

View building or renovation projects for more information including what forms, check sheets and information sheets to use.

What building work does not require a building consent

While most building work will need building consent, you can do some types of low-risk building work without building consent. You do not need building consent to carry out building work that is either:

Visit the MBIE’s website for information on building work that does not require building consent(external link) or use MBIE’s Buildit tool(external link) to answer a few questions about your upcoming project to see if it needs building consent, or could qualify as exempt building work.

Building on land subject to natural hazards

Sections 71 to 74 of the Building Act 2004 are concerned with building on land which is subject to natural hazards, such as flooding, slippage and erosion.

There are risks in building on land subject to natural hazards for both the owner and Council. Under the Building Act, natural hazard means any of the following:

  • erosion
  • falling debris (rockfall)
  • subsidence
  • inundation (flooding)
  • slippage

When there is the construction of a building, or major alterations to a building, on land subject to a natural hazard, section 72 allows a building consent to be granted in certain situations but requires a notice to be placed on the property title. This notice warns future property owners of the natural hazard and takes away Council liability if there is damage as a result of the natural hazard.

While in almost all cases the granting of the building consent will have decided that the building work will comply with the building code, the natural hazard notice is still required to recognise that the land is subject to a natural hazard.

Natural hazard notices may affect the value of your property and your insurance coverage, including disaster insurance provided by the Earthquake Commission (EQC). If you think natural hazards may apply to your project the Council recommends you seek professional or legal advice so you can make fully informed decisions. To find out more, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has published a guidance document(external link) on natural hazards.

We also recommend that you book a pre-application meeting(external link) to help you understand how the natural hazards provisions may affect your project.

Where the Council considers that the land is subject to a natural hazard we are required to grant the building consent under section 72. Before we do this, we will ask the owner to acknowledge in writing that they are aware of the implications of the notice and have taken the opportunity to seek advice.

Restricted building work

Building work affecting the primary structure or weather-tightness of a residential building is restricted building work under the Building Act 2004.

The rules mean you must employ a licensed building practitioner to design, carry out or supervise this kind of building work.

The rules make sure that critical design and building work is carried out or supervised by competent practitioners. It also makes sure there is accountability if the restricted building work does not meet the required standards. 

Visit MBIE’s website for information on restricted building work(external link).

Licensed building practitioners (LBPs) scheme

The LBP scheme was launched in November 2007 following an amendment to the Building Act 2004. Its purpose is to encourage competent building practitioners to build homes right the first time. The scheme also gives consumers the necessary information to make informed decisions about the competence of building practitioners they may engage

The LBP scheme is structured into seven licensing classes(external link), each based on a specific role or occupation that is crucial to a building's performance.

LBPs are designers, carpenters, brick and block-layers, roofers, external plasterers, site and foundations specialists who have been assessed as competent to carry out work affecting the primary structure or weather-tightness of a residential building. Chartered professional engineers, registered architects, plumbers and gasfitters are treated as LBPs and can carry out some restricted building work.

If your building project needs building consent from the Council, it may be restricted building work. Visit MBIE’s website for more information on choosing the right people for your type of building work (external link)for restricted building work.

Your building consent application must include details of the LBPs involved in your project. Your designer must be an LBP and must include a memorandum from a licensed building practitioner: Certificate of design work(external link), stating the design work complies with the building code.

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(external link) to the owner and Council. These records of work must be submitted with the application for a code compliance certificate.

To find who is a licensed building practitioner, go to MBIE’s webpage on licensed building practitioners(external link).

From 1 November 2022 we will be looking at collecting relevant LBP information at the time of inspection booking, so have your license number handy when you ring or book online. From this date onwards please be prepared and have your LBP card ready onsite so the building inspector carrying out your building inspection can confirm your LBP number/license.

Handy tip

To avoid delays in processing your building consent, be sure your application includes a certificate of design work from all LBPs involved with designing the restricted building work. The details of other LBPs can be added as they are engaged to do the building work if you do not know them at the time of application.

Owner-builder exemption from LBP requirements

As an owner-builder, you can carry out restricted building work on your own home. You are responsible for ensuring that restricted building work carried out under the owner-builder exemption complies with the building consent and the relevant plans and specifications.

You are an owner-builder if you:

  • Live in or are going to live in the home (this can include a beach or holiday home).
  • Carry out the restricted building work to your own home yourself, or with the help of your unpaid friends and family members.
  • Have not, under the owner-builder exemption, carried out restricted building work to any other home within the previous three years.

Visit MBIE’s website for information on obligations and responsibilities of owner-buildings and their building project (external link)and the required forms to use the owner-builder exemption.

Project information memorandum (PIM)

A project information memorandum (PIM) is a report issued by the Council under Section 34 of the Building Act 2004 at the request of an applicant that contains information known to the Council about your property and may be relevant to your building project.

View project information memorandum (PIM) for further information, what is contained in a PIM, how to apply or withdraw, and fees.

Applying for a building consent

To apply for a building consent we encourage you to submit your application using Online Services(external link).

You will need to register to use this service, however, using it minimises Council administration time and can lead to faster processing times.

If you submit your application through Online Services(external link), you will not have to complete the B-002 application form, as you will complete the application form online.

If you wish to submit your application by post or in person, download and complete the application for building consent and/or project information memorandum (Form 2) - Form B-002 [DOCX, 433 KB] (also available as a PDF [PDF, 135 KB]) or the application form relevant for your type of project.

Include the relevant check sheets for your type of project(external link).

You can also pick up an application form from any Council Customer Service Hub(external link), or we can post one to you if you call us on 03 941 8999.

If you are not familiar with preparing an application for building consent we recommend you engage an experienced professional to supply the required drawings and information, and to apply for the building consent on your behalf.

Other information you need to provide with your application

Include the following information:

  • Proof of ownership - provide one of the following:
    • certificate of title
    • lease
    • agreement for sale and purchase
    • other document showing the full name of the legal owner(s) of the building
  • All applicable plans, specifications and supporting documents (e.g. producer statements), as detailed on the relevant check sheet, demonstrating how the building work will comply with the building code
  • Any issued project information memoranda(external link)(PIMs) or resource consents(external link) relevant to the project.
  • A water connection application can also be applied for as part of a building consent application. See connecting to the Council water supply(external link) for specific information on connecting to the Council’s water supply. Fees vary according to the type of water supply connection and fixed fees and minimum application fees do not always cover all of the consent-related costs of an application.  Refer to building consents fees(external link).
  • If the application is to stage the building work (external link)to construct or alter a building, include the Staged building work approval letter from the building consent officer confirming the Council's approval of your staging proposal.

Submit an application for building consent

Online:  Visit Online Services(external link) for further information.

Post: post your application to us at Building Consenting, PO Box 73013, Christchurch 8154. 

In-person: deliver your application to the Council office at 53 Hereford Street, Christchurch.

Other legislation and considerations for your application

All building and land-use projects must comply with the rules in the Christchurch District Plan(external link).

If your project does not comply with the district plan you’ll need to get a resource consent(external link) approved under the Resource Management Act 1991 before some or all of the building work can commence. A building consent may be issued but the extent of work that can be carried out before the resource consent is granted will be detailed in a certificate attached to the building consent (section 37 of the Building Act).

Producer statements
A producer statement is a document where the author declares a professional opinion based on sound judgment and specialist expertise that the design or the building work complies with the building code.

A producer statement, along with appropriate supporting documentation, may provide a building consent authority with good evidence so that they are satisfied on reasonable grounds to grant a building consent or issue a code compliance certificate.

Producer statements are typically used for specialist work, such as the design and review of building work that requires specific engineering design.

There is also a type of producer statement for construction. These statements are typically provided by contractors who have installed a product or system.

There are four types of producer statements:

In considering what weight to give to a producer statement, Council will assess the qualifications of the author to ensure that person has the appropriate experience and competence in their area of practice to design or review the building work.

For a producer statement to be appropriate, the author should be currently registered with a professional body, the scope of the statement must be within the practice area of the author and all the fields on the Council’s producer statement template completed. 

If the author is a member of Engineering New Zealand, NZIA, or ACENZ, the statements can be submitted on the relevant professional body's standard template. If the producer statement does not meet these requirements the Council may place little reliance on it and require further evidence of compliance.

Alterations to an existing building (section 112)
If your application is for an alteration to an existing building, you need to consider section 112 of the Building Act 2004 and provide supporting information on:

  • How the whole building will comply as nearly as is reasonably practicable, with the building code for means of escape from fire and access and facilities for persons with disabilities (where this is a requirement). This may involve a costs and benefits assessment where the sacrifices and difficulties of achieving full compliance are balanced against the advantages of upgrading.
  • How the whole building will comply with other provisions of the building code at least the same extent as before the alteration.
  • Details of the proposed upgrade work to meet the above requirements.
  • View MBIE’s website for further information on alterations to existing buildings (including the extension of life)(external link).

Change of use of a building (section 115)
If a building owner intends to change the use of a building (or part of a building) they must first give notice in writing to the Council of that intention and have received confirmation from the Council that the change is approved.

View change of use (external link)for more information.

Buildings with specified intended lives (section 113)
If your building is intended to have a life of less than 50 years, you must state the intended life of the building on your application form.

A specified intended life applies to the whole building, not a building element (such as a solid fuel burner) or a building system (such as a cladding system).

When we assess your application, we will decide if it is applicable to grant the building consent with a specified intended life subject to the conditions required by section 113, Building Act 2004(external link).

The standard condition will state that the building must be altered, removed or demolished on or before the end of the specified intended life. Council will also add to the condition that, should an application to alter the building to extend its life be made under section 116, the durability of the building must be shown to be of a standard appropriate to the extension of life requested.

If you want to extend the life of your building that has a specified intended life, section 114(external link) requires that you must give written notice to Council. For Council to be able to give written consent it will require a building consent application to assess the building has been altered as per section 116(external link).

Subdivision of an existing building (section 116A)
The Council cannot issue a subdivision affecting a building or part of a building unless it has considered section 116A of the Building Act 2004. This will be assessed with your application for unit title subdivision(external link).

Commercial applications with specified systems
If your application is for a commercial project, you need to include a list of all specified systems for a new building or the specified systems being altered, added or removed as a result of the building work for a building with an existing compliance schedule.

The application needs to also include the proposed inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures for those specified systems. More information can be found on the specified systems guidance - Form B-068 [DOCX, 99 KB].

The Compliance Schedule Handbook(external link) is a useful guide published by MBIE under section 175 of the Building Act.

Fees and charges

Fees vary for building consent applications depending on the type of project.

Refer to the building consents fee schedule(external link), which also outlines further detail on how to pay including levies to be paid.

Also, refer to our guide to building consent fees and charges for estimated building consent fees based on a project value.

Applications for minor variations or amendments to a consent

If you wish to make changes to your building consent, you can apply for a minor variation or an amendment. A minor variation or amendment must be granted before the building work is carried out.

See minor variations or amendments to a building consent (external link)to check if your change is a minor variation or an amendment, including information on how to apply and associated fees.

How long a building consent is valid for

Building consents are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. 

Building work must have commenced within 12 months or the building consent will automatically lapse unless an extension of time to start work has been requested.

If the building consent has lapsed you will need to apply for a new building consent if you want to proceed with the building work.

Applying for an extension of time to start building work

To apply for an extension, please either:

  • in writing via email buildinginspections@ccc.govt.nz
  • via post to the Team Leader Processing, Christchurch City Council, PO Box 73013, Christchurch 8154. 

Your letter needs to include the following information: 

  • Project number (BCN number).
  • Any other relevant information.
  • Reasons for seeking an extension of time.
  • Optional: returning the standardised letter/questionnaire you would have received at 11 months and 23 months with this information.

A fee applies for the extension, please refer to the building consent fee schedule.

Beginning your building work

Once the building consent is issued the building work may begin, but in some circumstances, resource consent approval(external link) may still be required. 

In these circumstances, a certificate attached to your building consent (section 37 of the Building Act) will restrict the starting of building work until resource consent is obtained.

Occupying premises for public use

If you are a commercial building owner where the public is to be admitted, and you want to start using premises before a code compliance certificate is issued, you must apply for a certificate for public use. This certificate enables members of the public to use the premises until a code compliance certificate is issued.

Certificates for public use can be used only where a building consent has been granted for the building work, but a code compliance certificate has not been issued yet.

View certificate for public use(external link) for further information including how to apply, what information you need to supply, statutory timeframes, fees etc.