Last updated: 13 October 2023
Understand when you need licensed people to Build It Right.
Video: Build It Right – restricted building work
Watch a video about restricted building work, when it applies and who needs to do or supervise it.
Why you need licensed people
We all want warm, dry and safe homes that are built to last.
Building rules help you build it right – protecting you and your home now and when you come to sell it. As the homeowner, some of these rules affect the choices you make.
If your building work is critical to the integrity of your home, it may be restricted building work. This type of work ensures a property is structurally sound and weathertight.
You must use a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) to design or carry out restricted building work. An LBP must do or supervise this work.
If you need an LBP, a quick check will tell you if someone's licensed.
LBPs are assessed before getting a licence, and have to keep their knowledge up to date to be re-licensed. They include designers, carpenters or builders, roofers, brick and block layers, external plasterers, site and foundation specialists.
About restricted building work
Generally, you’ll need to use LBPs for bigger, or more complex jobs. Restricted building work (RBW) applies to work that both:
- requires a building consent
- and affects a home’s:
- primary structure
- certain fire safety design.
Primary structure includes the parts of a building that help resist vertical or horizontal loads, such as:
- foundations and subfloor framing
- walls (framing, brick/block, internal linings)
- columns, beams and bracing.
Weathertightness includes the following parts of a building that keep water out or help control moisture within the building fabric:
- claddings and cavities (junctions, flashings etc)
- some windows, doors and skylights
Fire safety design applies to:
- small-to-medium sized apartments.
Restricted building work has more information on the types of work that must be done or supervised by an LBP.
Check your LBP's ID card and the register
Before you use someone to do restricted building work on your home, check if they’re an LBP:
- ask to see their LBP ID card
- check the LBP register on the LBP website.
There are separate licences (called licence classes) for different skills:
- bricklaying and blocklaying
- external plastering
Registered architects and chartered professional engineers are automatically treated as LBPs, as are licensed or certified plumbers or gasfitters for certain types of work.
Choosing the right people for your type of building work has more information.
You can also read why contracts are valuable for information on consumer protection rules your designer, builder or tradespeople must follow for projects over $30,000 (including GST), and why it’s worth getting a contract whatever the size of your project.
You may want to contact the council yourself, or you might nominate someone (such as your designer, house building company or project manager) to do it on your behalf. Even if you nominate someone else, as the homeowner you still have obligations when building.
The rules about restricted building work are related to your council’s role in consenting and inspecting building work. This protects you and future owners by creating a record of who did what on your home.
If you don’t use the right people, and your building work does not comply with the Building Code, the council:
- may not approve your consent application
- may delay your code compliance certificate for the work
- could issue a “notice to fix” for breaching the Building Act.
Without the right paperwork, your insurance or finances could be affected, and it could pose problems when it’s time to sell.
The rules about restricted building work are important. If you or your builder don’t follow them, there are instant fines or you could face a court fine of up to $50,000.
DIY and exempt work
You can be part of New Zealand’s long established “DIY” (Do-It-Yourself) building tradition, so long as you meet the Building Code requirements and get the right consents and permissions.
You can do a lot of low-risk building work on your home without a building consent.
Check if you need consents has more information. In addition, the 'Can I build it' tool helps you find out if your building work needs a building consent. Work that doesn’t require a building consent is not restricted and doesn’t require an LBP.
If you want to carry out restricted building work on your home (or holiday home), you can apply to the council for an owner-builder exemption.
With an approved owner-builder exemption, you won’t need an LBP to do or supervise restricted building work.
Whether you are planning a large or small project, any building work you do must meet the minimum standards set out by the Building Code.
When something's not right
Let us know if someone is doing or supervising restricted building work when they:
- are not licensed (and don’t have owner-builder exemption)
- hold the wrong licence
- have an out-of-date licence.
When non-licensed people do or supervise restricted building work, quality and safety could be affected.
Complain about someone doing or supervising RBW without a licence has information on how to notify us.
A person may be licensed, but working outside the scope of their licence class, or there may be a problem with their work or conduct. If that’s the case, the Building Practitioners Board may be able to take action.
Complain about a Licensed Building Practitioner gives details of what can be done.
Code of ethics
From 25 October 2022, all LBPs must comply with a code of ethics, which was introduced by the Government in October 2021.
The code of ethics details the standards of ethical behaviour expected of all LBPs. It applies to LBPs carrying out building work, as well as those supervising building work.
The code of ethics consists of 19 standards that sit under four key principles. LBPs must comply with all of these. The four key principles are:
- work safely
- act within the law
- take responsibility for your actions
- behave professionally.
Compliance with the code of ethics should assure the public that an LBP has undertaken their building project with an acceptable standard of care and ethical behaviour.
If you think an LBP has breached the code of ethics, you can make a complaint to the Building Practitioners Board. They will investigate the complaint and will decide how to proceed.