top of page

Consent Considerations

Have you been getting consents for low-risk jobs that don’t require them? Or worse, have you been carrying out work that does require a consent without getting one? Schedule 1 of the Building Act details what building work can be carried out without a consent – make sure you check it out!

Passed in November 2013, the Building Amendment Act 2013 expanded the range of work not requiring a building consent. However, despite the list of minor low-risk jobs expanding twice in the past two years, the Government’s Rules Reduction Taskforce recently found that it’s often misunderstood and underused.

Exemptions are detailed in a living document, which has been updated four times since it was released in 2014. The document – Building work that does not require a consent – is available for download on You can also subscribe to Building Controls Updates to stay abreast of any changes via email.

Why should this matter to Landscapers?

The document isn’t limited to building additions and alterations – it also includes structures that many landscapers regularly undertake the construction of.

While most of these are generally exempt from consent, there are certain circumstances where

they are not – eg, fences over 2.5m or retaining walls which support a surcharge (additional load).

Schedule 1

Schedule 1 was amended with the intent of making exemptions easier to use. A new section (section 42A) was added to the Building Act to clarify:

What type of building work is exempt from requiring a building consent.

  • Who can carry it out.

  • What other conditions apply.

The scope of building work covered by Schedule 1 doesn’t vary greatly from the previous version (which was amended in December 2010). However, it has a new numbering system and has been divided into three parts depending on who can carry out the building work.

Exempt building work is listed in Schedule 1 of the Act, which has been split into three parts to make it easier to navigate.

  • Part 1 lists exempt building work with no limitations on who designs or carries out the work. This area will be most relevant to landscapers.

  • Part 2 deals with exempt sanitary plumbing and drainlaying, which must be carried out by people authorised under the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act, with some exceptions.

  • Part 3 covers building work, which has been designed or reviewed by a chartered professional engineer.

Exempt, not easy!

Exempted building work under Part 1 of Schedule 1 lists work that anyone can carry out. However, just because building work is exempt doesn’t mean the work doesn’t require skill – it just means it doesn’t require a consent, which should speed things up for the homeowner.

Also, exempt building work is not restricted building work, so it does not need to be carried out by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP). However, many homeowners may choose to employ an LBP, as exempt work, such as designing a 1.5m-high deck with fancy balustrades or building a 2.99m-high retaining wall, is still relatively complex.

What's Included?

Below are the general headings in Schedule 1’s list of exempt work. If you’re doing any work in the areas listed below, check the full guidance to see if it is exempt or not. Some of it is tricky to

decipher, so, if you’re unsure, it’s important to get advice from someone with the appropriate building knowledge and expertise, such as your local council.


1. General repair, maintenance, and replacement.

2. Territorial and regional authority discretionary exemptions.

3. Single-storey detached buildings not exceeding 10 square metres in floor area.

4. Unoccupied detached buildings.

5. Tents, marquees, and similar lightweight structures.

6. Pergolas.

7. Repair or replacement of outbuilding.

Existing Buildings: additions and alterations

8. Windows and exterior doorways in existing dwellings and outbuildings.

9. Alteration to existing entrance or internal doorway to facilitate access for persons with disabilities

10. Interior alterations to existing non-residential buildings.

11. Internal walls and doorways in existing buildings .

12. Internal linings and finishes in existing dwelling.

13. Thermal insulation.

14. Penetrations.

15. Closing in existing veranda or patio.

16. Awnings.

17. Porches and verandas.

18. Carports.

19. Shade sails.

Other Structures

20. Retaining walls.

21. Fences and hoardings.

22. Dams (excluding large dams).

23. Tanks and pools (excluding swimming pools).

24. Decks, platforms, bridges, boardwalks, etc.

25. Signs.

26. Height-restriction gantries.

27. Temporary storage stacks.

28. Private household playground equipment.

29. Certain structures owned or controlled by network utility operators or other similar organisations.


30. Demolition of detached buildings.

31. Removal of building elements. It’s important to remember that all building work, whether exempted or consented, must comply with the Building Code.

In the next issue, we will look more closely at the various types of work landscapers often carry out that do require a building consent.


bottom of page