New building consent exemptions

new exemptions

New types of building work will no longer require a building consent, saving homeowners up to $18 million a year and reducing the number of consents by about 9,000 (if lodged separately). 

From 31 August 2020, additional building consent exemptions have been added to the Building Act. Building consents are no longer be needed for a number of new or expanded types of low-risk building work, like sleep-outs, sheds, carports, outdoor fireplaces and ground-mounted solar panels.

The new exemptions will save building owners time and money, by not having to go to their local council for consent for common building projects. This reduction in building consents will also allow Councils to focus on building work that is higher-risk, helping to boost productivity.

This package of new exemptions adds to the work that can already be done without a building consent, outlined in Schedule 1 of the Building Act. Some of the new exempt building work can be done without the help of a professional, while others require the involvement of a Chartered Professional Engineer or Licensed Building Practitioner.

Building work that does not require a building consent must still comply with the Building Code and other legislative requirements, such as those under the Resource Management Act 1991, the Electricity Act 1992 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Any issues related to planning or resource management, or any projects with district planning implications will still need to be discussed with your local council.

The new exemptions will come into force on 31 August 2020.

Before carrying out exempt work, it's important you follow the MBIE guidance correctly. If you are unsure what legislation may apply, and what the requirements are, it's best to consult a professional.

MBIE Guidance for building without a consent

Find a Chartered Professional Engineer

Find a Licenced Building Practitioner

Summary of new exemptions

Single-storey detached buildings

Single-storey detached buildings include sleepouts, sheds, greenhouses and other similar structures can be built without a building consent. Kitchen and bathroom facilities are not included in the exemption. Any plumbing work to a new or current building still requires a building consent, and any electrical work will still have to be carried out by a registered electrician.

Options include:

Carports up to 40 square metres

The new exemptions mean you can build a carport up to 40 square metres in size without a building consent if:

Ground-floor awnings up to 30 square metres

The new exemptions mean you can build an awning of up to 30 square metres on a ground floor without a building consent if:

Ground-floor verandas and porches up to 30 square metres

The new exemptions will mean you can build a veranda or porch of up to 30 square metres on a ground floor without a building consent if:

Permanent outdoor fireplaces or ovens

The new exemption means you can build a permanent outdoor fireplace or oven built up to a maximum height of 2.5 metres, and with a maximum cooking surface of 1 square metre without a building consent. The fireplace or oven must also be at least one metre away from any legal boundary or building, and there may be local government restrictions on lighting open fires in your area.

Flexible water storage bladders

The new exemption means you can place flexible water storage bladders supported on the ground, for irrigation or firefighting purposes up to 200,000 litres in storage capacity without a building consent.

Ground-mounted solar panel arrays

The new exemptions mean ground-mounted solar panel arrays can be built without a building consent if:

Small pipe supporting structures

Small pipe supporting structures if they only carry water and are on private land can be built without a building consent.

Short-span (small) bridges

Short-span bridges if they do not span a road or rail area can be built without a building consent. The total span (length) can be a maximum of 6 metres. The design will need to be carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.

Single-storey pole sheds and hay barns in rural zones

Single-storey pole sheds or hay barns in a rural zone with a maximum floor area of 110 square metres can be built without a building consent if:


Starting a project that doesn't need consent?

If you want to start a building project that doesn't require a building consent, you should hire the right professional required or you can do it yourself if a professional is not required, provided you follow the MBIE guidance.

All exempt building work must meet the Building Code as well as other relevant legislation.

It is the building owner's responsibility to check whether a building consent is required. If the work that you are planning to carry out falls outside of the specified requirements, you will need to get a building consent. If you’re not sure if you need consent - ask for advice from somebody with appropriate building knowledge and expertise.

See MBIE's guidance on building work that does not require a building consent.

MBIE have recently released learning modules to help those who are new to the building code and carrying out work in the building and construction sector.

NZ Building Regulatory System Modules

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: