25. Signs

Free-standing sign

A sign doesn't require a building consent if no single face of the sign is over 6 square metres, and it is no higher than 3 metres above supporting ground level. 

What the law says

Subject to section 42A of the Building Act, Schedule 1 exempts the following from a building consent:

Building work in connection with a sign (whether free-standing or attached to a structure) and any structural support of the sign if:

(a) no face of the sign exceeds 6 square metres in surface area; and
(b) the top of the sign does not exceed 3 metres in height above the supporting ground level.

Guidance on the exemption

The term ‘surface area’ in subclause (a) of this exemption refers to a single face of the sign. For example, the exemption would allow you to build a freestanding sign (ie a standalone structure) up to 2 metres by 3 metres and displaying information on both sides.

To work out the height of your sign and make sure it is within the 3 metre height limit for this exemption, measure the vertical distance between the highest point at the top of the sign and the lowest point of the supporting ground below the sign.

Note: also refer to exemption 39 (signs) regarding building work for which the design has been carried out or reviewed by a chartered professional engineer.

Check with your council

If you are proposing to put signs on heritage or character buildings or in urban areas, it is important to check with the local council first. There may be restrictions in the council’s district plan (made under the Resource Management Act 1991) on the type of signs you can construct without first having to obtain a resource consent.

Examples where this exemption could apply

A new 1 square metre sign attached to the side of a building, where the highest point of the sign is no more than 3 metres above the supporting ground level.
A 2 square metre freestanding sign located outside a café, where the highest point of the sign is 2 metres above the ground.
A 4 square metre roadside billboard, where the highest point of the billboard is no more than 3 metres above the supporting ground level.

Examples where building consent is required

Installing a 20 square metre sign that has not been designed by a chartered professional engineer. As the sign is greater than 6 square metres in surface area, a building consent is required.
Replacing a 4 square metre sign attached to a commercial building 6 metres above the supporting ground level. As the sign is more than 3 metres above the supporting ground level, this will require a building consent.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: