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New building consent exemptions



Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa announced in May that new building consent exemptions are being added to the Building Act, meaning that more building work will be able to take place without a building consent


Allowing more building work to take place without a building consent is intended to make the building process quicker, easier and less expensive for builders, landscapers and DIYers, while also allowing councils to focus on building work that is higher risk.


While much of the work that landscapers do was already exempt from needing a building consent under Schedule 1 of The Building Act, some, such as short-span bridges where one could fall more than 1.5m, did require a consent. This doesn’t mean there are no other requirements – as stipulated below, the design will need to be carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.

It is expected that the changes could save building owners up to $18 million a year in consenting costs and, if lodged separately, could reduce the number of consents issued by councils by up to 9,000 per year.


While some of the new building consent exemptions can be done without the help of a professional, others will require the involvement of a Chartered Professional Engineer or Licensed Building Practitioner.


Summary of new exemptions

Building consents will no longer be needed for a number of new or expanded types of low-risk building work, such as sleep-outs, sheds, carports, outdoor fireplaces and ground-mounted solar panels.


A summary of each is provided below:

1. Single-storey detached buildings (eg, sleep outs, sheds and greenhouses).


There will be additional exemptions that increase the size

of the current exemption (available online):

  • Kitset or prefab buildings with a maximum floor area of 30m2, where a manufacturer or supplier has had the design carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.

  • Buildings with a maximum floor area of 30m2, where a Licensed Building Practitioner is to carry out or supervise design and construction.

  • Buildings with a maximum floor area of 30m2, where only lightweight materials with structural components built in accordance to Building Code compliance B1/AS1 are used, and this work may be done without the help of a professional.


2. Ground-mounted solar array panels (in both rural and urban zones).


In urban zones, there will be an exemption for panels up to 20m2, which can be built without the help of a professional.


In urban zones, there will be an exemption for panels up to 40m2, where the design has been carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.

In rural zones, there will be an exemption with no restrictions in panel size, which can be built without the help of a professional.

3. Carports up to 40m2

There will be two additional exemptions that increase the size of the building work from the current exemption:

  • The design has been carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.

  • A Licensed Building Practitioner has carried out or supervised design and construction.

4. Ground floor awnings up to 30m2


There will be two additional exemptions that increase the size of the building work from

the current exemption:

  • The design has been carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.

  • A Licensed Building Practitioner has carried out or supervised design and construction.

5. Ground floor verandas and porches up to 30m2


There will be two additional exemptions that increase the size of the building work from the current exemption:

  • The design has been carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.

  • A Licensed Building Practitioner has carried out or supervised design and construction.

6. Outdoor fireplaces or ovens


With a maximum height of 2.5m, and maximum cooking surface of 1m2.


7. Flexible water storage bladders


For irrigation or firefighting purposes up to 200,000 litres in storage capacity.


8. Small pipe supporting structures


For water only and on private land.

9. Short-span (small) bridges


Which the general public cannot access and does not span a road or rail area. The design will need to be carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.


10. Single-storey pole sheds and hay barns in rural zones

There will be two exemptions:

  • The design has been carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer

  • A Licensed Building Practitioner has carried out or supervised design and construction.

Next steps and timings

More information about the new exemptions, including technical requirements, will be on building.govt.nz in August.

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