The Renovation Consent Process

Finding a house that ticks all the boxes can be a challenge but, for a growing number of homeowners, the solution is to stay put and embark on a renovation project to create their dream home.

house in new zealand under blue sky
ARTICLE Patricia Moore

Indeed, with home renovation programmes topping television ratings, and magazines promoting the latest in design and DIY outselling many other titles, it’s pretty clear we’re hooked on renovating. It’s become a significant part of the economy; the three years to December 2016 saw an increase of almost 30% in the number of renovations across the country with the sector reckoned to be worth over $1.5 billion.
But while there’s plenty of advice on achieving the perfect paint job and what’s trending in decor, those are the finishing touches. Before that first nail is hammered, a project may require ‘consent’, indicating it complies with the regulations under the Building Act 2004 and any subsequent changes and amendments.

But what exactly is ‘consent’?

Generally a renovation project may involve up to two consent processes – Building Consent and Resource Consent. The submission process is usually handled by a renovation consultant or architectural designer; professional CAD working drawings are required with any application for a Building Consent. (Sketched designs are not acceptable) The consultant or designer will advise on the consents required, however, homeowners can visit council web sites for check lists and forms and the site for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment features comprehensive building guides for renovators.
Many projects require only Building Consent; should the Building Consent Authority (BCA) involved receive an application and find it requires a Resource Consent, the building consent will be put on hold until a separate resource consent application has been received, processed, and granted.

The following is designed to increase your understanding of the process but is not intended to replace dealing with the relevant authorities.


Building Consent

An accredited Building Consent Authority (BCA) determines whether or not an application for a building consent is granted. Consents are issued by city or district councils, some of which outsource the process of applications to independent specialists who process applications on their behalf.
Building Consent applications need to include project documentation and material specifications which identify the compliance path used for each aspect of building performance, with evidence to show how that will be achieved.
The BCA will then assess the application to determine whether the performance requirements of the Building Code will be met if work is carried out as planned. A Building Consent will be issued only when the BCA is satisfied that is the case.
Work requiring consent includes: (This list is not comprehensive)
- Any structural building – additions, alterations, re-piling and certain demolition work
- Plumbing and drainage
- Solid-fuel heating and air-conditioning systems
- Site-works for a building
- Retaining walls to 1.5m / fences to 2.5m
- Swimming pools
- Decks more than 1.5m from the ground
When approved, the consent will include a schedule of inspections which alert the project manager when an inspection is necessary, often before the next stage can begin. Should any of these be missed or fail, council may not be able to issue a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC).

Code Compliance Certificate

A CCC is issued when a project is completed and the council inspector is satisfied that the finished project complies with the Building Code and the relevant building consent. The CCC is recorded in the land information memorandum (LIM) and building status report for the property.

LIM Report

This is a council report on a particular piece of land and indicates where work has been consented, carried out and inspected. It should be noted a BC does not normally require a LIM report.

Resource Consents

If a proposal sits within the Building Controls in the District or Unitary Plan, Resource Consent will often not be necessary. Some zones with heritage or special character classifications require Resource Consent with every Building Consent.
While building consents relate to the integrity of the structure and the health and safety of the users or occupants, resource consent covers the broader environment and is a ‘discretionary’ process, which can involve neighbours or other interested parties, where the applicant is required to submit his/her case before the council’s resource consent specialists such as district/city planners, traffic engineers, heritage architects and arborists.
A Resource Consent might typically address:
- Effect of proposed work on neighbours (e.g. loss of sunlight / privacy / views etc)  
- Effect on the wider community ( suitability in a heritage area / changes to  water run-off / the removal of trees)

Thanks to Refresh Renovations consultant Dave Georgetti for his assistance in compiling this report.


You might be interested in reading: Why are Micro Homes trending?

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This article by Patricia Moore featured on page 040 in Issue 025 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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