What Consents & Permits Do I Need For Building?

Often, the biggest fear of a house project in NZ is dealing with council and obtaining building permits and consents. If you’re wondering ‘what consents and permits do I need for building?‘ we’re here to help you out. 

There is a vast array of different consents and permits required for a successful completion of a building project in NZ. Some of them are required on every project, others only required for specific reasons. Below we’ll discuss the main consents and permits that you’ll encounter on your journey to a new home. 



Building Consents (or Permits) 

This is for the structure of the house, focusing on how the house is to be built. Nowadays, Councils don’t accept hand drawn details and all plans submitted must be produced on a CAD program in a suitable layout. The Building Consent shows where the house is going, the earthworks, all the council rules applicable, the site plan, floor plan, elevations, cross sections and all details involved in how the building will be constructed. A Building Consent is required on all projects. Read our article on ‘What is a Building Consent?‘ to find out more. 

PIM (Project Information Memorandum) 

This is generally assessed at the same time as the building consent, and is Councils way of checking all the zoning, district and consent notice rules on your property. If your plans are showing any breaches with the rules they issue a Form 4 Letter detailing which rules are being breached and that you’ll need to apply for a Resource Consent to get these breaches approved. A PIM is required on all projects. 

Resource Consents  

Only projects that are breaching rules (as stated in the PIM above) require a Resource Consent. The most common breaches are Earthworks volumes, Boundary Setbacks, Sunlight Rule Breaches, proximity to bush, impermeable surfaces and maximum height. (there’s loads of other rules depending on the zone and Council, and what your project is. Often we’ll submit a Resource Consent prior to the PIM as we know which rules are being breached. 

Earthworks Permit

Not all councils have Earthworks permits. As an example in the Far North District the Council requires an earthworks permit for any earthworks over 100m2, 50m3, 500mm high or within 3m of a boundary. These are a fairly simple application that requires plans to be submitted showing the proposed earthworks, allowing the council engineers to review the projects proposed earthworks.


Crossing Permit

This is required if your property doesn’t have a completed, formed driveway crossing from the road onto your property. Only around 20% of projects require this application as any new subdivisions the developer is required to complete the crossing for each new Lot. It’s a simple application however may require physical works to be completed (sealing/concreting/piping any ditches) which could cost around 5k.  

Services Application

This is required if your site doesn’t have any specific connection points for water, wastewater or stormwater, yet there is a council mains pipe running nearby your property. Council will require an application to be completed to connect into the mains pipe. This is a simple application which will then be followed by the works being carried out by an approved contractor.  

Code of Compliance Certificate 

Once your home is fully completed your builder will apply to Council for a CCC (Code of Compliance Certificate). The Council then completes their final inspection to check that all works have been carried out as per the plans issued on the building consent. You’re then in your bank and insurance companies good books once CCC has been issued, as its a consented, completed home. 


Learn to work with Council, not against them 

Unfortunately, so many people try to work against the District Councils around New Zealand for the sole reasons of ‘Council is annoying’. The solution is to realise they’ve got a purpose, and work with them to get what you want and need. 

Our towns and cities would be an absolute mess if it wasn’t for council policing properties and ensuring that work completed not only looks and works well, but is safe and suitable for the area it’s located in. 

Thinking of skipping Council?

Go ahead, (and good luck!). It’s often the thought that if you dodge Council you’ll save money – not in the long run. There’s many homes that come up for sale without permits or Code of Compliance and they end up selling for far below market rates. Moreover, they would have fetched another 50k+ if they were consented. That’s why it’s so crucial to get the right building permits for your building project in NZ.


Furthermore, Council checks plans thoroughly, meaning that if your designer has missed a critical item it won’t be missed, and both your insurance company and bank will favor you greatly if they know everything is ticked off by Council. 

Take a look at our Architectural Design Process page to understand the full design process. 

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