Changes to Building Consents
Six new exemptions to the Building Act 2004 (“the Act”) have been added, along with the expansion of four existing exemptions. Homeowners, builders and DIYers will now have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Act has removed the requirement of building consents for low-risk building projects such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports and porches.
These new exemptions are predicted to save homeowners up to $18 million a year and reduce the number of consents by approximately 9,000. It will mean that councils can focus on higher risk building consents which will boost the construction sector and assist with New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19.
The new and expanded building exemptions include those outlined below.
Single-storey detached buildings such as sleepouts, sheds and greenhouses up to 30 square meters do not require a building consent. However, kitchen and bathroom facilities in such buildings are not included in the exemption and any plumbing work will still require a building consent and electrical work will need to be carried out by a registered electrician.
Carports up to 40 square metres, ground floor awnings up to 30 square metres, ground floor verandas and porches up to 30 square metres are also exempted. These types of buildings will not require a building consent if the design has been carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer or if a Licensed Building Practitioner carries out or supervises the design and construction.
Permanent outdoor fireplaces or ovens built up to a maximum of 2.5 metres and with a maximum cooking surface of 1 square metre are exempted. The fireplace or oven must also be at least one metre away from any boundary or building.
Flexible water storage bladders up to 200,000 litres in capacity, which are supported on the ground, for irrigation or firefighting purposes are exempted.
Ground-mounted solar panel arrays up to 20 square metres in an urban zone can be built without the help of a professional and there is no restriction on size in rural zones.
Small bridges up to a maximum of 6 metres in length will not require consent, provided the bridges do not span over a road or rail, and the design has been carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.
Single-storey pole sheds and hay barns in a rural zone with a maximum of 110 square metres will not require building consents. However, the design needs to be carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer and the construction needs to be carried out or supervised by a Licensed Building Practitioner.
The building work included within the exemptions will still have to meet the requirements of the Building Code as well as any other relevant legislation.
The exemptions were introduced in August of this year along with guidance information issued by the Government. You can access this information by going to www.building.govt.nz and search ‘Exempt building work guidance’.