Building Consents - FAQ and Guides

Guides

Please see the below document for public information relating to PIM, Building Consent, Inspections & Building Work.

For further enquiries, please contact the Building Inspection Team at council@westlanddc.govt.nz.

Frequently Asked Questions


A Project Information Memorandum provides a comprehensive analysis of the Council’s rules and requirements relating to a proposed building project. A PIM does not allow any building to commence and is a precursor to a building consent. Large developments will, most likely, commence with a PIM so that specific issues relating to the location of the building on a site, car parking, servicing, bulk and location, footpaths and roading can be stated prior to the preparation of final plans. It will also provide information relating to snow loadings and earthquake and corrosion zones which are vital to the design structure of all buildings. Generally speaking, a PIM is not used for smaller building projects.

Most building work will require a Building Consent. The Building Act 2004 requires that building consents be granted for any temporary or permanent moveable or immovable structure (including a structure intended for occupation by people, animals, machinery or chattels) and includes mechanical, electrical and other systems, certain fences, vehicles that are immovable and occupied by people on a permanent or long term basis, mast poles and telecommunication aerials that exceed certain height and width criteria and the demolition of existing buildings.

Building Consents are also required for some maintenance work particularly where maintenance involves building components that have not been able to meet the durability requirements of the New Zealand Building Code. Certain work is exempt from the need to be subject to a building consent; more information concerning these exemptions can be found in the First Schedule to the Building Act or a Council Customer Guide on exempt building work.

The Council Building Consent Authority staff (building inspectors) will give you advice as to whether your proposed building project requires a building consent or not.

Yes.

The Building Act 2004  Schedule 1 Exempt Work, provides that for tents ,marquees, and similar lightweight structures  Exemption 5 may be utilised, this allows you to construct, alter or remove a tent or marquee that is being used either for public assembly (e.g. at a school gala) or private use (e.g. for a wedding reception).

However, this is only if the tent or marquee does not exceed 100 square metres and is to be, or has been, used for a period of not more than 1 month.

The purpose of the building consent is to principally ensure that the safety of occupants and users is paramount. The conditions for the use of a tent or marquee are likely to include the necessity to keep entrances and exits clear, have fire extinguishers on site so that there is a safe evacuation of users should circumstances require.

Generally speaking a building consent is not required where a building component is replaced with a similar building component. However there is an exception to this where a building component fails to meet the durability requirements of the New Zealand Building Code. In such a case a building consent would be required. Any change in the cladding to a dissimilar material would need to be the subject of a building consent.

Irrespective of whether a building consent is needed or not any building work must comply with the New Zealand Building Code.

Not where an internal wall is acting as an integral part of the building as a structural unit or as a bracing unit. A building owner should take professional advice as to whether such a wall is structural or not.

There is no easy straight forward answer to this question. Essentially any timber may be used in any building. However the location of the timber will determine the standard of treatment of the timber and the use of the area in which the timber is to be utilized are all determining factors in setting a standard. The Department of Building and Housing website has a publication on timber treatment which could be of assistance.

The Westland Building Consent Authority has several application forms which are specific to particular project proposals. For example: The building consent application for the installation of a space heater is different to that which is used for the erection of a dwelling. The Building Consent Authority staff will assist you with the choice of the correct form. All application forms are available on Council’s website.

The Westland Building Consent Authority has several check lists that an applicant is required to use to ensure that the information that accompanies the building consent application is sufficient to demonstrate compliance with various Building Regulations and the New Zealand Building Code. If an applicant is satisfied (on checking) that all the information listed on the check sheets accompanies the application then it is most likely that there will be sufficient information for the Building Consent Authority to process the application.

The Council has a schedule of fees which is adopted on an annual basis in conjunction with Council’s Annual Plan. The schedule of fees provides for a wide variation of possible building projects. The fees within the schedule of fees and charges will give a very good indication as to what the costs will be but it is important to note that costs can vary slightly with each application depending on the scope of the work, the amount of additional time that is required to process an application and any additional inspections that may be required due to identified deficiencies. Complexity of the building will also be an issue that could affect the fee structure. In addition, the Council collects fees on behalf of the Government. The Department of Building and Housing is paid a levy on all consent applications in excess of a value of $20.000.00. There is also a similar levy payable for building research purposes.

The time that it takes to administer your building consent application will depend entirely on how well your application is put together. The Building Consent Authority has a total of 20 working days to check your consent application for compliance with the various building regulations and the New Zealand Building Code and to grant the building consent.

However, if an application is deficient in terms of details and further information is required to demonstrate compliance with the New Zealand Building Code; then an application would be put on hold, the applicant is advised of the requirement for additional information and processing will not recommence until such time as the additional information is furnished.

The New Zealand Building Code is a comprehensive document that provides for detailed ways of compliance. Such details that appear in the New Zealand Building Code are referred to as “acceptable solutions”. Where a building owner wishes to depart from “acceptable solutions” within the building code such a departure is known as an “alternative solution”. In almost every case where an “alternative solution” is utilised in a building an engineer (or other appropriately qualified person) will be required. Engineers are always required for matters relating to structural works and foundation design that are outside the scope of The New Zealand Building Code and New Zealand Standards.

Buildings can be quite complex structures and there is an important place for Engineers in the design and certification process. Although the Council is responsible for checking the building consent application, granting the consent and issuing a code compliance certificate, there are many complex aspects associated with the building that are required to be subject to specific documentation referred to as “producer statements”. The Institution of Professional Engineers has produced very good material explaining the role of an engineer on a building project and copies of the Institution’s pamphlet are available at the Building Consent Authority office.

The building pad (the area of land occupied by a building) is essential for the ongoing performance of the structure of the building. The ground bearing capacity of the building pad must equal or exceed 300kpa. There are various ways of determining the ground bearing ability of the building pad. Where a building pad is on undisturbed ground the capacity of the ground can be determined by the use of a penetrometer or by observation through a ground profile. Where the land has been disturbed it is almost always necessary to obtain an engineers report as to the ground bearing capacity.

The Building Consent Authority has a very good pamphlet available that explains in detail the requirements for building pads.

Where a building pad involves the digging out of soil and replacement with gravel and other material an engineer’s design will be necessary. It is very good practice to ensure that the engineer tests the building pad prior to any building commencing on the pad. In effect this means that the engineer would issue a “Producer Statement” to the Council prior to the building structure commencing.

A Building Consent will lapse and be of no effect if the building work to which it relates has not commenced within 12 months after the date of issue. Should circumstances arise where a delay to building work is required the Building Consent Authority may extend the lapsing period at its discretion.

The Building Act requires that within two years of the grant of the building consent a building owner must apply for a code compliance certificate. Such a certificate is confirmation that the building complies with the New Zealand Building Code and the Building Act. If the building is not completed within the two year period the building owner may request the Building Consent Authority to extend the period for which a code compliance certificate can be obtained. Such an extension would be at the discretion of the Building Consent Authority. If a building owner does not make application within the 2 year period then the Building Consent Authority (Council) will decide whether to issue the certificate or not.

The life of the building consent is essentially a 24 month period. A code compliance certificate is required to be applied for within 2 years of a building consent being granted. The building work is required to be commenced within a 12 month period but if circumstances are such that an extension is required an application for an extension can be made. Likewise, an extension to the time for an application for a code compliance certificate can also be made.

Copies of the building code are held in the Council Offices. The New Zealand Building Code is an extensive document that runs to several hundred pages.

A copy of the New Zealand Building Code is also available from the Department of Building and Housing website. There is no charge for the building code download.

Building Consent Authority staff will assist you with specific queries as to the content of the New Zealand Building Code.

When a building consent is granted the Building Consent Authority will always outline in an accompanying letter the various inspections that will be required to be undertaken. The list of inspections will be particular to the project for which the building consent has been granted.

Different building projects will require different inspections. The Building Consent Authority will always undertake an inspection of foundation works before concrete is poured, sub-floor works and flooring. An inspection will be undertaken at each stage of the project where building components are either wrapped or clad, all drainage and sanitary plumbing is inspected and all heating appliances must be inspected prior to them being utilised for the first time.

One of the most important inspections required to be undertaken is the final inspection (the code compliance certificate inspection) when the Building Consent Authority will determine if a code compliance certificate should be granted. An application for a Code Compliance Certificate is required from the Building owner prior to the final inspection being carried out.

As the building project progresses, different inspections will be required. Before contacting the Building Consent Authority staff for an inspection it is absolutely essential that all the work associated with the building to the inspection stage has been completed. If a building owner (or builder) is satisfied that the building project has advanced to a stage where an inspection is readily able to be undertaken then the inspection can be booked by ringing the Council office (03 756 9040) asking for the Building Consent Authority Administrative staff and arranging a date and time with them. You do not need to speak to a Building Compliance Officer as internal arrangements will be made to have an appropriate officer respond to the inspection request.

Whenever a building owner makes arrangements for an inspection it is very important that the person making the arrangements quotes the building consent number to the Building Consent Authority staff so that accurate arrangements can be made.

The New Zealand Building Code provides a detailed assessment as to areas of land in New Zealand that are susceptible to Sea Spray, the corrosive affects of salt and other circumstances that can be detrimental to some surfaces. NZS3604 is a New Zealand Standard that the New Zealand Building Code requires compliance with. The Standard has a series of maps and explanations that show the specific areas of Westland that are likely to be subject to sea spray and other corrosive effects. There are several minor variations that have been introduced to ensure a consistency of administration and the Building Consent Authority staff will be able to show any applicant a map which delineates the extent of the sea spray zone. Compliance with the sea spray zone boundaries is likely to ensure that the corrosive affects of salt will not interfere with the durability performance of the building works. The “sea spray” zone will often encroach a significant distance inland as the “corrosive” effects of heavy rainfall have the same adverse effects on the surfaces of some products as does the salt in sea spray.

A building consent will be required for the placement of a container on a site under certain circumstances. Such circumstances will principally depend on the proposed use of the container, the site, and the length and duration of the proposal.

Building Consent Authority staff will assist with specific enquiries.

An IQP (Independently Qualified Person) is terminology that was found in the Building Act 1991.

An IQP has specialist qualifications for dealing with or issuing building warrants of fitness and thus confirming that buildings used by the public and buildings that have safety systems are compliant at all times.

The Council obtains information about individual properties and some of the records are historical in nature. The Council is required to retain records concerning buildings and land. As a general rule, the Council retains those records as individual property files.

Individual property files are available to the general public. The files may be viewed at the Council office but under no circumstances may they be taken away. The public can check the context of any property file but in some cases there may be a delay where any confidential information is removed prior to the file being viewed. Confidential information is generally in the nature of personal information.

Council’s District Plan is written in accordance with the Resource Management Act 1991 and sets out the environmental standards for the District. For convenience the District is divided into various zones (residential, rural, small settlement, coastal etc) and the sighting requirements for buildings within the various zones are different. The District Plan contains a series of tables relating to each zone and the site requirements are easily able to be determined by reference to the various tables. A copy of the District Plan is available on Council’s website and Council staff will assist.

In some instances the only way of checking a site requirement is to have the finished plan available. In some zones the building (height and location) will be subject to the “recession plane” requirements and the buildings proposed may need to be designed to meet this criteria. There may also be conditions registered on an individual certificate of title that will require setbacks from certain features (such as escarpments) in addition to the District Plan setbacks.

Generally speaking multiple properties may be connected to a single sewer connection. However it may be necessary that the drainage lines meet particular design criteria in terms of the size of the pipe, the gradient of the pipe and access arrangements. In addition it is necessary that individual properties have rights of easement over any common drainage. Even if allotments are in the same ownership each allotment that is served by a sewer connection and a single drain must have easement rights over the adjoining allotments. Council staff will assist in giving advice on this matter.

From time to time owners discover that a building permit or consent has not been granted for the buildings that they own. Generally speaking such a discovery is only relevant where the buildings are more than 30 years old. It is most unusual to find a building for which no building consent has been granted and it is more common that a landowner will discover that a building permit has not been issued (building consents have been granted since January 1993 and building permits were granted prior to 1993).

With regard to buildings for which no record of a permit can be found it is possible that a permit was issued but has, for various reasons, been lost. This is a particular issue where land has been subdivided and re subdivided and property files have had their origins merged by time.

The important issue for a building owner is one of the structural and durable integrity of the building. Generally these issues are able to be determined by inspection by an appropriately qualified person. Where building owners discover that no permit has been previously granted it is usual for an “expert opinion” to be provided to the Council by an appropriately qualified person to make the property file records complete.

From time to time buildings do appear without building consents. In such circumstances the Council will prosecute the builder or owner or other agent. As to whether the building is able to stay will depend entirely on the quality of the building and the evidence provided to the Council by the building owner in terms of structural and durability criteria. A building that is built without a building consent has no guarantee of being permitted to remain. There is however a mechanism under the Building Act for a Certificate of Acceptance to be issued and the Council may exercise its discretion to grant such a certificate. It is however, most likely that a prosecution will proceed and that the building owner will be required to uplift a building consent for the demolition of the building.

The Government, through the Ministry for the Environment, has introduced a National Environment Standard for woodburners. The National Environmental Standard for air quality includes a design standard for woodburners in urban areas. The woodburner standard applies only in urban areas and where the allotment containing the building is less than two hectares in area. The standards do not apply to multifuel or coal burners or appliances for cooking; just wood burners.

Building owners can find out which burners are “approved” by visiting the Ministry for the Environment website or discussing proposed installations with the Building Consent Authority Staff.

The issue of a code compliance certificate is the final step in the building consent process. When the Building Consent Authority issues a code compliance certificate it is a statement that the building has been erected in accordance with the plans and specifications submitted with the application and that the building complies with the New Zealand Building Code in so far as can be determined.

Sometimes a building may take some years to complete and there are durability aspects for the Building Consent Authority to consider prior to the grant of a code compliance certificate. Where buildings take an enormous amount of time to complete it is likely that a code compliance certificate would not be able to be issued or would be issued with an endorsement that the code compliance certificate does not cover durability issues. Under such circumstances any future owner is unable to have any comfort that the building will perform in the manner that it should. In circumstances where a building owner or builder refuses to comply with the plans and specifications and/or the New Zealand Building Code the options open to the Building Consent Authority are to refuse the grant of a code compliance certificate, issue a notice to fix and, probably, commence enforcement proceedings depending on any health, safety or structural issues of note.

There are a range of septic tanks available. Generally speaking any septic tank can be utilised for a dwelling so long as it is big enough in relation to the number of people the building is designed to accommodate. The real issue with septic tank drainage is the soakage system that supports the working of the tank. Where ground-receiving conditions are marginal for the soakage of waste water it may be necessary to use a specialist soakage system and possibly, utilise the services of an appropriately qualified engineer to design a specific installation to deal with the marginal conditions. Marginal conditions could involve the porosity of the receiving ground, water-table heights and proximity to water bodies. The septic tank effluent is required to be disposed of in accordance with West Coast Regional Council discharge to land plans and specific standards AS/NZS1546.1:1998 “On site domestic waste water treatment units” and AS/NZS1547:2000 “On site domestic waste water management”.

Reputable sanitary plumbing and drainage firms will be able to give building owner’s good advice. The Council staff will also give advice.

The Licensed Building Practitioner provisions of the Building Act 2004 impose restrictions on what building work an unlicensed builder may undertake.

Unlicensed builders may carry out building work which is:

  • NOT classed as Restricted Building Work.
  • Owner/build work in accordance with Section 90D Building Act 2004.
  • Exempt from building consent under Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004.
  • Building Consent approved and classed as “Low Risk” building work.

Restricted Building Work may be carried out only if the work is being carried out under the supervision of a Licensed Building Practitioner.

Sanitary plumbing, drainage and electrical work will continue to be undertaken in terms of the respective registration mandates as the registration members are considered to be Licensed Building Practitioners for the purposes of the Building Act 2004.

Generally speaking the size of a building is dictated by the size of an allotment. The different zones in the Westland District Plan will provide different standards. For example, in the residential areas a 40% site coverage is the maximum that is permitted. Any coverage greater than 40% in the residential zone would be subject to a resource consent.

In addition, the height of buildings and their location on the land is also controlled by the District Plan. There are different rules for different towns and zones. The specific standards can be found in Part 5 of the District Plan in the various tables that relate to the various communities and zones.

The Council planning staff can assist you in determining whether your building complies with the District Plan and will provide advice if you need a resource consent.

The Westland District Plan provides for a range of permitted activities for land use and buildings. Where the permitted rules are unable to be achieved a resource consent is required. There is no straight forward answer to the question as to whether a resource consent is required; a specific proposal is required before a specific answer is able to be given. Some activities automatically require a resource consent. For example, any dwelling within the rural zone is required to be subject to a resource consent except where a subdivision has occurred specifically for the purposes of residential use. Sometimes existing land use consents can expire by virtue of a resource ma

What do I need to do to relocate a dwelling/buildings?

Every single relocation of a building in Westland is required to be subject to a resource consent application. The relocation of an existing building to another part of Westland will require a building consent for the off-site removal of the original building, a resource consent for the relocation, a building consent for the relocation and, possibly, a resource consent for the new land use. It is important to note that relocation “does not relate to new transportable buildings”. The relocation of buildings will require the payment of a bond to ensure that:

  • The relocated building is securely fixed on site and building work has been completed. Any damage to infrastructure or property brought about by the relocation is able to be made good.
  • That the building is able to integrate with the existing amenity.
  • The value of the bond is variable and will depend on the nature of the relocation. A bond is required to be paid prior to the relocation of the building.

A Building Consent Authority is required to deal with any application for a building consent within 20 working days. This rule can vary depending on the additional information required.

A "working day" means any day except;

Saturday, Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Queens Birthday, Labour Day and Waitangi Day;

The day observed in Westland as the anniversary of the province;

A day in the period beginning 20th December in any year and ending with the close of 10th January in the following year.


For more information contact the Council.

Yes. The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 (the Act) came into force on 1 July 2017 and contains major changes to the current system of identifying and remediating earthquake-prone buildings under the Building Act 2004 including a new national system for building identification and assessment and a publicly available national register of buildings that are earthquake-prone.

View the Earthquake-Prone Buildings Policy