Building Consents

Sections 7, 40 - 52, and schedule 1, Building Act 2004
A Building Consent is a formal approval to undertake building work. 

Consent is granted if the Building Consent Authority (BCA) is satisfied that the Building Code provisions would be met and that the work will be completed in accordance with the plans and specifications of the application.

The Building Act states that no building work may be carried out until a consent is issued (Section 40). The BCA has 20 working days to process the consent application.

This time can be stopped and restarted, generally when there are requests for more information. Some complex fire design consents are sent to the Fire and Emergency NZ for review.
A consent is ‘granted’ when the application is agreed to by the BCA and ‘issued’ is when it is paid for.

At the end of the entire process, the Code Compliance Certificate is issued when the building work complies within the parameters of the Building Consent.

An owner may apply for a series of applications for Building Consents for stages of the proposed building work, such as in the case of large multi-staged buildings.

If there are any changes to the building work, an alteration to the design, or a substitution of product/s, either a minor variation is permitted or an amendment to the Building Consent must be applied for in the same way as an application for Building Consent, depending on the nature of the change.

If a Building Consent is refused, the BCA must write to the applicant and state the reasons for the refusal. This must be done within the 20-working day timeframe.

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Case Law

Here are some of the leading cases in this sphere:

Auckland Council v Liu, [2019] NZDC 2337
  • This case dealt with prosecutions under s 40 of as an “infringement offence”, whether leave from a Judge is required when filing charges.

Whakatane District Council v Cotter, DC Whakatane CRI-2007-087-1365, 17 October 2007
This case dealt with two charges of building without building consent, including building a swimming pool.

Manukau City Council v Boler, DC Auckland CRN7048004828, 28 August 1998
  • This case concerns two charges of building without consent under the 1991 Act. 

Wilson v Auckland City Council, HC Auckland CIV-2004-404-3303, 10 May 2007
  • This case involved a number of defences to a building without consent charge. 

Christchurch City Council v Smith Crane & Construction Ltd, DC Christchurch CRI-2009-009-12480, 19 February 2010 
  • This case examined to what degree an opportunity to rectify may be granted.

Plastertech Systems Ltd v Auckland Council, [2018] NZHC 3400
  • This case involved a discussion on when work was maintenance and when it was required to have consent.

Kwak v Park, [2016] NZHC 530
  • This case considers the role of producer statements as “building work” under section 7 of the Act. This is in contrast to work under section 40: see Andrew Melvin King-Turner Ltd v Tasman District Council.

Andrew Melvin King-Turner Ltd v Tasman District Council, [2021] NZHC 343
  • This case addresses what is ‘building work’ for the purpose of section 40 in relation to producer statements.

Inglis v Parry, [2017] NZDC 26365 
  • This case involved unconsented work by a previous owner in a residential tenancy situation.