1.1 General repair, maintenance, and replacement

Repairs to a window frame and exterior cladding

A building consent is not required for a range of general building repairs, maintenance, and replacement of parts.

This exemption enables building owners to maintain their buildings (including carrying out any repairs or replacement) without having to get a building consent.

MBIE has also issued relevant determinations under the Building Act 2004 that include discussion about what is considered complete or substantial replacement, and what is meant by comparable materials, components or assemblies.

Determination 2013/071, which considered the compliance of proposed repairs to an earthquake damaged foundation.

Determination 2015/072, which considered the compliance with the Building Code of repairs to the foundations of an earthquake damaged house.

If you are not sure if this exemption applies to your proposed building work, we recommend that either you seek a discretionary exemption from the council or you apply for a building consent rather than risk applying it incorrectly.

Councils can also give discretionary exemptions.

Check with them first before applying.

What is exempt

  1. Replacing 20-year old profile metal roof cladding, where that cladding has achieved its Building Code durability requirement (lasted more than 15 years) and the replacement cladding is a comparable component or assembly, such as profiled metal roofing.
  2. Replacing old rotten wooden piles under a house with new treated timber piles in the same positions, as long as the work is not a complete or substantial replacement.
  3. Repairing and repainting damaged solid plaster exterior wall cladding where the damage was not due to a durability failure (eg, damage caused by a motor vehicle backing into the wall).
  4. Maintaining a weatherproofing membrane such as a fibreglass and painted surface system on an existing deck that forms the roof over a habitable room by applying a new coat of fibreglass and paint in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Replacing a damaged inner stainless steel flue for an existing solid fuel heater (eg a wood burner) in the same position. As the undamaged outer flue liner is remaining and will continue to protect the building against the possible spread of fire, the scope of work is not considered to be complete or substantial replacement of a component that contributes to the building's fire safety.
  6. Replacing, in the same position, any number of existing non fire-rated wooden doors and windows (joinery and glazing) with new aluminium doors and windows.
  7. Carrying out repairs or replacement work on the brick chimney of a functioning open fireplace following an earthquake. The repair involves using comparable materials and the scope of work is not considered to be complete or substantial replacement of any components that contribute to the building's structural behaviour or fire safety.
  8. Repairing or replacing masonry veneer wall cladding (such as brick or stone) which has been damaged.
  9. Simple plumbing repairs, such as replacing tap washers or ballcock valves. (Note: repairs, maintenance and replacement to sanitary plumbing and drainage must still be carried by an authorised person)
  10. Installing, moving or replacing smoke alarms such as those in detached dwellings, which are not part of a specified fire alarm system.
  11. Replacing a sprinkler head, fire pump, fire pump controller or fire pump driver with a like for like part that does not alter the performance of the sprinkler system, or relocating or adding a relatively small number of sprinkler heads within an area of a building that is already sprinkler protected.
  12. Rectifying minor deficiencies to a fire alarm or sprinkler system identified during an annual inspection by an Independent Qualified Person. Minor deficiencies are not considered substantial replacement of a specified system.
  13. Adding or relocating a relatively small proportion of fire alarm detectors and manual call points to allow for changes in the interior fit-out (e.g. furniture placings) or HVAC systems of a building.

What needs consent

  1. Replacing exterior wall cladding that has failed within 15 years of the cladding being installed, resulting in damage to the wall framing.
  2. Rebuilding a house that has been significantly damaged by fire or earthquake. Although the building may have met its durability requirements under the Building Code, the proposed building work would involve complete and substantial replacement of structural components. Therefore, a building consent is required.
  3. Repairing an exterior wall following vehicle impact damage where the repairs require complete replacement of wall framing and integral bracing elements.
  4. Adding any number of sprinkler heads to an existing fire sprinkler system to protect a previously unprotected area in a building. This will require a building consent as it may affect the capacity of the sprinkler system.
  5. Replacing a rigid section of fire sprinkler pipe with a flexible section will require a building consent as the parts are not similar.
  6. Permanently removing part of a fire safety system such as a sprinkler head, detector or manual call point. Removing any of these could adversely affect the system's operation and is considered a substantial replacement of components.
  7. Replacing old corrugated iron roofing with new concrete tiles. The new heavier tiles will impose an increased load on the existing structure which is likely to substantially affect the building's structural behaviour.
  8. Repositioning a solid-fuel heater (eg a wood burner) by shifting it from one end of a living room to the other.
  9. Replacing an existing solid-fuel heater with a comparable appliance in the same location. This will require a building consent as the installation will affect the building's fire safety properties.

What the law says

1. General repair, maintenance, and replacement

1. The repair and maintenance of any component or assembly incorporated in or associated with a building, provided that comparable materials are used.

2. Replacement of any component or assembly incorporated in or associated with a building, provided that:

(a). a comparable component or assembly is used; and

(b). the replacement is in the same position.

3. However, subclauses (1) and (2) do not include the following building work:

(a). complete or substantial replacement of a specified system; or

(b). complete or substantial replacement of any component or assembly contributing to the building's structural behaviour or fire-safety properties; or

(c). repair or replacement (other than maintenance) of any component or assembly that has failed to satisfy the provisions of the Building Code for durability, for example, through a failure to comply with the external moisture requirements of the Building Code; or

(d). sanitary plumbing or drainlaying under the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006.

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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: