sign uplog in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

The requirement to scrap building consents for minor backyard jobs will also help farmers wanting to build a small hay barn or bridge on their properties

The requirement to scrap building consents for minor backyard jobs will also help farmers wanting to build a small hay barn or bridge on their properties

From Monday (August 31) building consents will no longer be required for minor building jobs such as building a carport or garden shed or adding a veranda or porch to an existing dwelling, potentially saving homeowners up to $18 million a year in consent fees.

Changes to the Building Act have increased the list of exemptions to requirements to obtain a building consent to include the following types of work:

  • Building a carport up to 40 square metres.
  • Building an awning up to 30 square metres on the ground floor only.
  • Building a ground floor veranda or porch up to 30 square metres.

However the exemptions for all of the above types of work will only apply if the design of the project has been carried out or reviewed by a professional engineer, or a licenced building practitioner has carried out or supervised the design and construction.

People will also be able to build or install a permanent outdoor fireplace or oven in their backyards without having to obtain a consent, provided it is no more than 2.5 metres high, has a maximum cooking surface of one square metre and is at least one metre away from a boundary or building. Any council restrictions on fires will still apply.

It will also be easier to install outbuildings such as sheds, glasshouses or sleep outs, with the following structures no longer requiring a building consent:

  • Outbuildings with a maximum floor area of 30 square metres where a licenced building practitioner carries out or supervises its design and construction.
  • Kitset or prefabricated buildings up to 30 square metres where the manufacturer's design was carried out or reviewed by a professional engineer.
  • Outbuildings up to 30 square metres that are constructed of lightweight materials can be built by non-professionals, provided the materials and components comply with a specified standard of the Building Code.

The solar panel industry could also get a boost, with ground-mounted solar arrays up to 20 square metres in urban areas able to be built by non-professionals without the need for a consent.

Ground mounted solar arrays between 20 and 40 square metres in urban areas will not require a consent if the design has been carried out or reviewed by a professional engineer.

It's not just city dwellers wanting to improve their outdoor amenities that will benefit from the changes, some will also make life a bit easier down on the farm, such as:

  • Ground-based water storage bladders with a capacity of up to 200,000 litres to be used for firefighting or irrigation will no longer need a consent.
  • Small bridges with a maximum length of six metres will no longer need a consent, provided they do not cross a road or rail line and the design has been carried out or reviewed by a professional engineer.
  • Single story pole sheds or hay barns won't need a consent if their design has been carried out or reviewed by a professional engineer or a licenced building practitioner has carried out or supervised their design and construction.
  • The rules around consents have also been eased for small pipe irrigation systems.

Although many smaller building projects will no longer require building consents under the new rules, they will still need to comply with the Building Code.

The new rules are expected to apply to around 9000 small building jobs a year and save property owners up to $18 million a year in consent fees.

More details about the new rules can found on the government's Building Performance website.

The comment stream on this story is now closed.

You can receive all of our property articles automatically by subscribing to our free email Property Newsletter. This will deliver all of our property-related articles, including auction results and interest rate updates, directly to your in-box 3-5 times a week. We don't share your details with third parties and you can unsubscribe at any time. To subscribe just click on this link, scroll down to "Property email newsletter" and enter your email address.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.



When this came through for public submissions I supported it fully and indicated the significant resources that were being wasted in processing these consents which have very little risk. It's been a misallocation of resources for a long time.


I had a Wellington council inspection yesterday to check on the waterproof membrane for an ensuite. Should have been a 20 second inspection. We've had loads of inspections already because its a big project but the t#at who turned up yesterday insisted on walking around the whole house and checking a bunch of stuff that other inspectors had already signed off on and insisted on checking all my smoke alarms.

While he was busy wasting hours of my life and asking me a million questions as if i was a criminal, he mentioned had had recently emigrated from India on a work visa for Queenstown, then moved to Wellington for a job with WCC but would never want to live long term in NZ, he just moved here to enable him to move to Australia as soon as he possibly can.

I'm not sure I can quantify how much more expensive and arduous the building/resource consent process in NZ is compared to my previous experiences in the UK. 10x more expensive and 100x more annoying maybe? I have been trying to get a Resource Consent for a driveway, garage/studio for over a year. I've only just got to the point of being able to submit the application because of the amount of faff and time it takes to even meet the criteria for the application. Survey, topo, geotech, engineer, architect and planner. At least $25k so far and that's before I even start paying WCC for their w%&king time and fees for a f%$#king drive!!!!!!!!!!!! My building team are awesome, the quality of work actually better than the UK. The architect has been the only disappointment but part of that is the complexity of the District Plan and regs. I had NO IDEA how obstructive the building consent process was here, I thought people were exaggerating but its actually much worse than I ever imagined. I now fully understand why there is a housing crisis.

Sorry for the bleeps but OMG. I feel like the regs are draining my life force.

Nice rant :)
And the attitude of that inspector all too common

I'm going to save this to reread the next time I'm thinking of building.

What most seem to miss is that, this is another desperate measure of the Govt. to prop spending in the construction sector, hoping desperately that people are going to indulge themselves, with red tape gone.

Summed it up nicely, yep this is partly indeed why there's a housing problem here because it's So Bloody Hard to get anything built.

Don't be too hard on the architect, they have to spend a lot of time interacting with the council, which is not an easy job.

They don't interact with WCC. Which is part of the problem. I have used plenty of architects over the years, this one is terrible. But Wellington is so busy for building work you are having a long wait for anyone and i've sunk so much money on this architect now it's hard to move. Although, I am genuinely considering it. Not throwing good money after bad etc.

I use an architectural designer. Not an architect. Architects just talk in a waffly airy fairy manner about design spaces etc. Design it yourself and have it drawn up by the architectural drafter with the engineer being engaged at appropriate times. Half the cost.

Absolutely correct. Employ an architect for a +$1m house that requires fancy features. Anything less an architectural draughtsman is fine. I'm not one. I do the very basic design and drawing myself but then I have time Their are hundreds if not thousands of floor layouts on the web which can be used as a template which you can pass on to an architectural draughtsman for panel beating to your desire.

100% agree on this.

I had drawn up the plans myself. My builder said we needed a professional to draw up the plans for submission, I asked for a draftsman or architectural engineer, he agreed and said he would arrange that but his usual contact was unavailable, so he went with another company. I had tried contacting a draftsman and architectural designer myself but they had a 6 month wait list. My builder said he had an existing relationship with an architect and might be able to bump us up the queue. When I met the company for the first time, we discussed my designs, everything seemed fine. It all seemed very straightforward. But every single interaction has been problematic. They create designs, that bear no relationship with the brief, or my design but they also don't even communicate with myself or the builder before doing so. They have made several mistakes that have cost us months in delays.

But even without the architect, we still would have had months of delays between each stage because we had to wait for the geotech and then an engineer. Wellington is just really busy with building and renos I think.

Architects are often full of themselves. Councils may often be wrong, but you have to work with them.

It's also why builders head for greenfield sites. I'm guessing you're building on a difficult section in an already built up area?

We are just adding a driveway/garage/studio to where we already live. Every other section on our street has been subdivided and had an additional house built on it. We essentially just want to put a garage/studio where all the other sections have subdivided and added a house. There's no issue with footprint sqm. We are city fringe Wellington (near the Botanical Gardens) and there is no such thing as a non-difficult section in Wellington city. If you want views and a character villa, you have to deal with it.

You should do a blog/vlog of your experiences and the time/cost that each matter takes up. Could be a useful influence.

GN I hear and sympathise. We did a reno in Thorndon a few years ago and got everything (so we thought) signed off. Turned out the ex plumber-turned-building inspector had a wee breakdown and didn't file any of the paperwork. Result was that we had to do it all again three years later.

Awesome!!! I'll grab my tool box, I've been wanting to build a small studio for a while now. :)

I think resource consent is still needed for some of these things though. I don't think you can just build a 30 sqm structure in an urban setting without planning permission can you?


A resource consent may still be required.


Yes. Most likely in urban environments. Didn't see it mentioned above but there is a requirement that the structure must be at least it's height away from any boundary or other residential structure. So if you want a 5x6 building that's 3m tall you are going to need 11x12m free space, and you can't put it in your outdoor living area. With a building consent you'd be able to fit an ancillary dwelling in that space.

Great for farms or lifestyle blocks though.

Yeah that rule makes it almost impossible to build anything especially on an Auckland section

In Auckland, you can build up to a height of 2.5m high on the boundary, if the Height in Relation to Boundary Rule applies.

That is true without resource consent but you still would need building consent. This new exception to the need for building consent specifically says it must be its height from the boundary.

Where does it say that? I read the linked material and didn't see that mentioned.

I think you are confusing the building code rules with the need to apply for building consent. You always need to apply for consent unless the building is in the exemptions list. In this case you can build a building under 30m2 without even talking to council if it is it’s own height from boundary. If not you need to draw up plans and apply for consent. if it meets the rules you mention then they must issue it. Then there will be inspections etc and a fee.

This new exception to the need for building consent specifically says it must be its height from the boundary.

Thanks, but what I'm asking is where does it specifically say that? Do you have a link by any chance?

The height away from boundary rule has been there forever, the change is to allow 30m2 when it used to be only 10m2

When I first read it I thought you needed a licensed builder to build more than 10m2 but now I think any timber framed building is exempted under the lightweight material on page 45. Of course they make it as obscure as possible.

Yeah if its
a) lightweight,
b) equal to or below 30m2
c) its height away from the nearest boundary,
d) single level,
e) no more than 1m off the ground,
f) its height away from other dwellings on the property (height being floor level to roof peak)
g) and there are a couple of other rules about it not being in the outlook space,
sure, you can build it yourself, no problem. Got to follow building code though.
Its great. I'm going to do this quick smart. Anything to not pay Goff a cent.

Got it , thanks that makes it clear (p. 39).

Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004
3A. Single-storey detached buildings exceeding 10, but not exceeding 30, square metres in floor area, constructed of lightweight material
1. Building work in connection with any detached building that—
(a). is not more than 1 storey (being a floor level of up to 1 metre above the supporting ground and a height of up to 3.5 metres above the floor level); and
(b). exceeds 10 square metres in floor area, but does not exceed 30 square metres; and
(c). is built using lightweight wall and roof materials, and in accordance with Acceptable Solution B1/AS1 for timber or steel buildings; and
(d). does not contain sanitary facilities or facilities for the storage of potable water; and
(e). does not include sleeping accommodation, unless the building is used in connection with a dwelling and does not contain any cooking facilities; and
(f). ifitincludessleepingaccommodation,hassmokealarmsinstalled.
2. (2) However, subclause (1) does not include building work in connection with a building that is closer than the measure of its own height to any residential building or to any legal boundar

Insulting comment deleted. Ed.

The shed in the image above will not comply if that fence is the boundary. It must be at least the height of the shed away from the boundary or residential dwelling.

Stupid rule isn’t it. Who’s shed would comply? Most sheds in the country are illegal even with this “relaxing” of the rules. If these rules are relaxed I’d hate to see what their definition of over regulation is!

Not all councils have that restriction. Mine states that a building must be no closer than 1 metre from the boundary, unless the boundary facing wall is fire retardant or proof and must comply with the shading requirements/height restrictions. But you're right, that shed wouldn't comply. Although as a temporary/transportable structure it might - doesn't seem to have a fixed/poured concrete floor or foundations

That is a common mis interpretation. Building rules are set by the government / MBIE and councils have to apply them. You are confusing resource consent (planning) with building consent.

You don't need resource consent if the building footprint is small enough. Not all councils are as restrictive as others.

Correct you don’t need resource consent but you do need building consent unless it is a building that is in the MBIE exemptions. The councils don’t get to make building rules just the planning rules. If they don’t apply the building rules they can be sued. Auckland council have forced people to take sheds down due to neighbour complaints even though they didn’t want to and even though they were within height to boundary rules. If no one complains they don’t care.

FFS stop with the jibberjabber double speak. If the structure is under the Resource consent footprint, and it complies with the boundary setback and building consent rules then you can build the freakn thing. Do you work in a Council planning dept per chance??
Some years ago I made the mistake of applying for consent to build a structure on my property.. the council numbnuts asked for proof of neighbor permission. My neighbors?.. NZTA,DoC and myself (I owned the adjoining property). This was after supplying a spatial map showing the boundaries

It’s pretty simple really - building consent is about the building being safe and durable, resource consent is about whether it meets planning rules such as height to boundary rules, setback rules, yard size rules, etc. If it doesn’t meet planning rules you need resource consent which may include neighbour notification. You always need building consent unless the building is in the exemptions list such as this new exemption.

Funny how National never managed to cut this read tape after their 2014 election pledge to cut red tape, required a Labour government to actually get it done.

They’d be scared a neighbour might whack up an “eyesore“ sleep out or something. They secretly love regulation when it suits them.

Well at least Labour can put this on their list of "transformational advances". Now we can build a garden shed as long as it complies with all the rest of the rubbish planning requirements. Ratepayers can build a shed but the Govt can't build more than 10% of it's promised housing, big advance I must say

Pretty small cheese, really. Shows how low expectations have fallen.

Perhaps, but National couldn't even get this done.

This could all be part of a cunning plan to solve our housing crisis. Dumb the quality of housing down more, privatize it, change its name from Kiwibuild, and give it its own exemption under the Act.

Seems like we have abundant regulation to try to prevent the council being asked to pay for everyone's leaky buildings again. Perhaps replace that regulation with mandatory building industry insurance instead? Would be good to see a little more personal responsibility and standing behind one's products and services from the industry. From the large (Hardies) to the small (individual builder) ends of town.

Agree that building insurance would be a way better approach than current council imposed nightmare.

The main problem we have in NZ is poor front end regulation which means when it fails, our solution is a lot of back end regulation to fix the problem.

The latest example is the healthy home standards which means that you could build a new owner-occupier house to the NZ Building code but it would not be legal to rent it out under the new healthy home standards as it does not meet the minimum requirements of the standard. And yet the healthy home standard is so prescriptive that a Passive House would have to dumb itself down to be legally rentable.

We, unfortunately, have very weak political leadership in NZ. They say they care about the price and quality of housing, but they don't care enough to do anything about it.

Yet the easiest way to upgrade the quality of housing would be like they are doing in other countries, ie mandate all Govt. housing as say Passive Housing. This would require no change in legislation. But the outcome would ripple right through all housing. After all, what private homeowner is not going to want their new home to be build to at least the quality of a statehouse!

That last idea seems a very sensible one. Good for sustainability in multiple ways.

Pretty cool New Zealand we will have people living in them in no time. We are getting closer to 3rd world living accommodation by the day.

Yep, some will be used for sleepouts and not have any windows, electricity, insulation, maybe a portaloo if you are lucky..... etc. Yick!
Favela city here we come.


Yip the narrative will be that your first home should be a small do up and that we all had to start out with something simple.

Problem is a tiny pallet shed or tent city is soon to be defined as that.

Maybe we can start importing Tuktuks and drivers soon too to make our small commuting and food delivery services cheaper too.

There's also the existing 'condono' (Italian for condone) under Schedule 1 Part 1 Sec 2: (my bolding)
Territorial and regional authority discretionary exemptions
Any building work in respect of which the territorial authority or regional authority considers that a building consent is not necessary for the purposes of this Act because the authority considers that—
(a) the completed building work is likely to comply with the building code; or
(b) if the completed building work does not comply with the building code, it is unlikely to endanger people or any building, whether on the same land or on other property.

Although, given the Modest Fee Hunger exhibited by most TLA's, applying for this sort of exemption may well cost you your first-born anyway.....

I have heard of people getting exemptions (under those clauses I assume) for sheds too close to boundary. But it’s not guaranteed.

Good luck with trying to get that decision across the line. Councils are a self perpetuating parasitic scourge on the ability to increase taxpaying business expansion

You may well be right but in terms of building it’s mainly the government that makes the rules and the council that need to enforce them or risk being sued. They are not allowed to use discretion as it obviously leeds to favours, racism, etc.

Council planning depts and inspection services would be the absolute definition of dysfunction. There are multiple court cases suing Councils for their cr@p planning and inspection processes. When you get a food inspector turning up to sign off on foundations pretty much says it all, but hey.. the guy was an "inspector" after all. I've had Plumbing Inspectors turn up to foundations, Electrical Inspectors turn up to structural walls, Planners turn up to inspect land reclamation projects.. and the list goes on. Same charge invoiced though. Same result, "tick the box", because they don't have a clue

Yeah we had a mixed bag when we did some building work - some clueless, some really good, some a holes.

Can you send me the link for that clause please waymad?

With pleasure, Hook. Here.

That might free up a few inspectors to measure the pugging that my cows do. They should learn to walk tru mud without losing their gumboots.

And once upon a time, gummit reduced the need to seek (& pay for) council approvals & inspections. Oh, good, the council ceoc's said, we can reduce our staff and pass the savings in salaries, office space, etc., on to our dear ratepayers.
Poof! I woke up and realised I had been dreaming!
Pull the other one dear Labour gummit,....its got bells on and rings a merry tune.

What a stunning dream to have!

Building consents are actually a central government requirement that is fully funded by applicants. The inspectors ect just happen to sit in Council buildings so that they're accessible to the public. They're basically MBIE employees.

The photo they have used for the article would not qualify under the new system! Does not include building work in connection with a building that is closer than the measure of its own height to any residential building or to any legal boundary. Most garden sheds are logically placed against the boundary fence, which is not allowed.

It's a transportable structure.. not physically attached or permanently complies

haha, good luck getting that one past the Council.

That shed doesn't meet the requirements for consent exclusion. Needs to be the same distance from the boundary as the height of the building. Theres no way that building is 2.5m (ish) off the side and rear boundary. I hate this setback rule, but its probably there to minimise fire risk. Creates a lot of dead space doing that though.

Re the issue of quality government housing. Just read the latest version of the Residential Tenancy Act. The caring government has just exempted itself from meeting the same standards they have set in stone for the private market. Even exempt the new rules for domestic violence. Shame on the Left.

As soon as there is any plumbing or cooking facilities , any size building needs consent.