3.3 Internal walls and doorways in existing building
A building consent is usually not required to construct, alter or remove an internal wall or doorway.
This exemption allows you to alter, remove or construct certain internal walls and doorways.
However, your proposed building work must not relate to a wall that is:
- a bracing element
- a firewall
- a masonry wall, that is made of units of material such as brick, burnt clay, concrete or stone laid to a bond in and joined together with mortar.
Internal walls often contain bracing elements, so altering or removing these walls could adversely affect the building's structural performance. Some internal walls are also load-bearing, so altering or removing these may reduce a building's compliance with the Building Code’s structural performance requirements. Therefore, such walls are not covered by this exemption.
Building work relating to masonry walls is also outside the scope of this exemption. Masonry walls are heavy, and the consequences of their collapse if they are not adequately supported are greater than for timber-framed walls.
All new building work must comply with the Building Code, including with its structural performance requirements. Also note that, on completion of the building work, the altered building must comply with the Building Code to at least the same extent as it did before the building work was undertaken.
If you are considering building work that is close to or involves potentially load-bearing walls, it is important to get professional advice from an expert, such as a chartered professional engineer, registered architect, building consultant or registered building surveyor.
What is exempt
- An owner of a dwelling wishes to remove a section of internal timber-framed wall to make room for a new kitchen installation. After discussing this with a building practitioner, the owner is satisfied that the section of wall is not load-bearing and is not a bracing element. This building work does not require a building consent.
- An owner of a commercial property wishes to build a metal-framed internal wall to provide privacy in a reception area. This alteration will not compromise the egress or escape routes in any way. As the wall is not load-bearing, has no bracing element and is not a firewall, a building consent is not required.
- The owner of a dwelling wishes to remove a non load-bearing wall between the kitchen and laundry to provide for an enlarged kitchen space. The timberframed wall has no bracing elements and therefore the building work does not require a building consent.
What needs consent
- A hotel owner wants to cut a new opening in an existing masonry wall to create an open-plan lobby and reception area. The owner seeks guidance from their local council and an architect. Historic plans are reviewed and the architect discovers that the wall is load-bearing. As the proposed alteration affects a masonry, load-bearing wall, a building consent is required.
- An owner of a building wishes to install a door in an internal wall that is not load-bearing. However, the wall is made out of reinforced brick so a building consent is required.
- The owner of a dwelling wishes to remove part of an internal metal-framed wall between the hallway and kitchen. They seek advice from a licensed building practitioner who, after a quick visit to the house, informs them that the wall is load-bearing. Therefore, the removal would require a building consent.
What the law says
11. Internal walls and doorways in existing building
Building work in connection with an internal wall (including an internal doorway) in any existing building unless the wall is:
(a). load-bearing; or
(b). a bracing element; or
(c). a fire separation wall (also known as a firewall); or
(d). part of a specified system; or
(e). made of units of material (such as brick, burnt clay, concrete, or stone) laid to a bond in and joined together with mortar.