Various building work may require building consent, discretionary exemption and/or resource consent.

Guidance for obtaining building consent if your project includes a single stand-alone dwelling or an accessory building such as a garage, carport, gazebo, shed, deck or retaining wall.

Most types of building work require building consent(external link), however, there are some types of building work that is considered low-risk and are exempt(external link).

Eco Design Advisors (external link)provide free, independent, expert advice on new home design and renovation. Advice is available for homeowners, home designers, builders and industry professionals.

You will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

Further information

You must obtain building consent(external link) to install or move a solid or liquid fuel space heater in your building. While you do not need building consent to replace a flue or firebricks with comparable materials, your work will still need to comply with the building code(external link).

Installing a heat pump does not require building consent but must be installed by registered electricians who certify their own work.

Check Environment Canterbury's (ECan) list of authorised solid fuel burners. The Council has checked and approved the installation instructions for most burners shown on the list of authorised appliances(external link).


The rules around which solid fuel burner you can install have changed when within a clean air zone and in a site less than two hectares.  From 1 January 2019, any new burner installed must be an ultra-low emission burner. Find out about your clean air zone(external link).

An older-style wood burner is not permitted for use, regardless of its age. It can be replaced by an ultra-low emission burner. Contact Environment Canterbury on 0800 324 636 (0800 ECINFO) if you are unsure about what type of burner you have, or if you are worried about your home heating situation.

Second hand solid and liquid fuel burners cannot be installed unless:

  • A current Clean Air approval label is attached to the appliance. This is not applicable to some minor rural areas of Christchurch.
  • Written evidence is provided to show that the appliance meets building code requirements. An acceptable method is a satisfactory report from the manufacturer or manufacturer’s agent.

A new inner flue is required in all cases.

Heating systems that require building consent also include:

  • Any system using reticulated water, like under floor heaters or radiators where these are connected to the drinking water supply.
  • All commercial heating and ventilation systems.

Heaters that do not require building consent are:

  • Gas heaters (permanently fixed in place) do not need building consent, but they must be installed or supervised by a certifying gas fitter who will certify their own work.
  • Fixed electric space heaters, including heat pumps, do not require building consent, but they must be installed by registered electricians who certify their own work.

You will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

Further information

Exemption 38 of Schedule 1 to the Building Act 2004 allows a person authorised under the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006 to install a solar water heating system if that system is a controlled heat source and if the hot water cylinder is being replaced or repositioned.

For further information, read the MBIE’s guidance on building work that does not require building consent(external link).

The Council will consider an application for a discretionary exemption (external link)from building consent for the installation of solar hot water systems on a case-by-case basis. This includes the installation of a controlled hot water system to an existing hot water cylinder that is not being relocated. 

If the conditions above cannot be met, you may need to apply for building consent. You will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

What you need to consider when obtaining building consent for a multi-residential, industrial or commercial building.

Whether your build is simple or complex it is important to understand the consent process, and how it protects people and property.

A fire engineering brief (FEB) process will ensure fire safety designs that do not follow an acceptable solution complies with the building code. To decide if you a required to use a FEB process, refer to this information or email

You may also consider discussing your project at a pre-application meeting. If you are not sure whether you need a pre-application meeting, contact the Council on 03 941 8686 or email

Most multi-residential, industrial or commercial buildings have additional requirements to make sure they remain safe to use once the building work is complete.

Some types of applications for building consent must be provided to Fire and Emergency New Zealand by Council for their advice. More information about these types of applications can be found on the Gazette webpage.(external link)

You will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

Other forms you may be required to include in your application:

Backflow prevention devices stop water from flowing the wrong way.

They're used to protect the public drinking-water supply and to protect people living or working inside buildings and properties.

View backflow prevention devices(external link) for further information, including what forms to use and fees to pay.

You might need building consent (external link)for minor residential works where your planned alterations are to walls or plumbing within your building. The definition of minor is at the discretion of the Council.

In some cases, work may be exempt (external link)from the need to obtain building consent. Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 lists building work that is exempt.

Building work in connection with an internal wall in any existing building does not require a building consent unless the wall is either:

  • load-bearing
  • a bracing element
  • a firewall
  • part of a specified system
  • made of units of materials (bricks, burnt clay, concrete or stone) laid to a bond in and joined together with mortar

Plumbing work that can be carried out by a person authorised under the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006 without building consent is outlined in Schedule 1 exemption 32 - 38(external link).

You will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

Further information

Not all plumbing and drainage work requires building consent to be carried out. Examples of minor residential plumbing and drainage work that require building consent (external link)include:

  • simple subdivision drainage.
  • instant hot water systems.
  • installing an extra toilet.

Examples of exempt (external link)building work are:

  • Repair, maintenance and replacement of any sanitary plumbing and drainage in or associated with a building.
  • Drainage access points.
  • Minor alterations to drains.
  • Alteration to existing sanitary plumbing (excluding water heaters).
  • Repair, maintenance, replacement and repositioning of water storage heaters.

You will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

Further information:

If you need to demolish, remove or relocate a building you may require building or resource consent.

You require building consent(external link) to:

  • demolish or remove a building if it is attached to another building or is over three storeys in height. (Refer to exemptions under the Building Act - Schedule 1(external link) if this applies to your situation).
  • relocate a building onto a new foundation.

You will also require resource consent(external link) to:

You will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

Further information

All residential pools must have compliant pool barriers to keep young children safe. All new pools require building consent for the barrier due to it being considered as building work under the Building Act 2004.

View swimming and spa pool safety (external link)for further information.

If you’re building a new pool, you will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

Some shade sails, fabric canopies and retractable awnings are exempt from requiring building consent. However, the building work must comply with the building code.

To see if your shade sail, canopy or awning is exempt look at MBIE's guidance document on building work that does not require building consent(external link). To be exempt, they must be:

  • made of fabric or other similar lightweight material
  • 50 square metres or less
  • no closer than one metre to any legal boundary
  • on the ground level if attached to a building, on the ground or first storey level of the building

If your proposed structure does not meet the requirements above then it is not automatically exempt and you will need to apply for a building consent or exemption before starting any building work.

The sail, canopy or awning also needs to comply with the District Plan rules for buildings, including setbacks from boundaries, recession planes and site coverage.

You will need to complete and send the Council the following forms:

The tiny house information document [PDF, 776 KB] was developed by the Council with the help of the Canterbury Tiny House Society. 

It seeks to provide information on tiny houses to help inform those contemplating living in one.

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 receive confirmation that it has been approved before the change occurs.

View change of use (external link)for further information, including what forms to use and fees to pay.

Converting a building into alternative accommodation

If building alterations are to be carried out as part of the conversion, building consent(external link) may be required (please refer to the Single residential dwelling and accessory buildings section above). 

Some types of accessory buildings are excluded from building consent. For more information, please refer to MBIE(external link) for guidance on building work that is automatically exempt.

It would be sensible to ensure that the building is dry, has ventilation and adequate insulation. Depending on what is proposed, building consent may be required. A building consent is required to add a toilet or bathroom to a sleepout. An upgrade requirement of this building consent would be to fit smoke alarms in both the sleepout and in the house.

A resource consent(external link) may be required if there are any non-compliances with the District Plan, such as adding a kitchen or loss of car parking, outdoor living spaces, or setbacks from boundaries. We recommend that you contact the Duty Planner on 03 941 8999 to check this.

Using an on-site caravan or campervan for accommodation

There are many issues relating to this activity. The Building Act 2004, District Plan requirements and the Christchurch City Bylaws may apply.

If the caravan or campervan is deemed to have become a building under the definition in the Building Act, building consent(external link) will be necessary. Please refer to the definition of a building under sections 8 and 9 of the Building Act(external link).

resource consent(external link) may also be required if it is being used as a self-contained residential unit, or it does not meet building setbacks, recession planes and building coverage rules in the District Plan.

If you plan to use a caravan for accommodation, please speak to the Duty Planner on 03 941 8999 in the first instance. You will also need to discuss your proposal with the Duty Building Consent Officer.