What is a building consent

Building consents 

Nelson City Council is accredited and registered as a Building Consent Authority under the Building Act 2004. As an Authority, Council has a responsibility for ensuring that the Building Act and other associated regulations are considered and implemented in every building project it reviews. We aim to ensure:

  • Buildings are safe, accessible, and are not a danger to public health.
  • Buildings are designed, constructed and able to be used in ways that promote sustainable development.
  • Owners, designers, builders and Council ensure building work complies with the building code.
  • Information on properties and building requirements are available to the public.

We endeavour to make Council engagement as stress-free as possible.

If you have questions about building work or would like to request a free 30-minute appointment with the Duty Building Officer, please phone 03 546 0200.


What is a building consent?

A building consent is a formal approval granted by Council under the Building Act that allows a person to carry out building work. Building work includes work connected with the construction, alteration, demolition or removal of a building. Council will issue a building consent only when satisfied the proposed building work is likely to meet the requirements of the Building Code.

When is a building consent required?

With very limited exceptions, building consent must be obtained before any work starts. The list below is a summary of building work that will need a consent.

  • New building work, additions, alterations and some demolition etc.
  • Plumbing and drainage where an additional sanitary fixture such as a basin, shower or toilet is created (some repair and maintenance may be exempt)
  • Relocating a building
  • Installing a solid-fuel burner
  • Retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres or any retaining wall if the wall is surcharged (3.0 metres in rural area if designed by a chartered professional engineer)
  • Fences or hoardings higher than 2.5 metres
  • All swimming pools and their associated fences, decks, platforms or bridges with more than 1.5 metres fall height
  • Sheds greater than 30 square metres in floor area (sheds smaller than 30 square metres must meet the Schedule 1 exemption criteria)

When is a building consent not required?

New Zealand’s building legislation recognises some building work does not require a building consent. The Building Act 2004 Schedule 1 details the type of work that does not require a building consent.

Generally this is work where no structure is changed or cosmetic work such as replacing or altering a dwelling’s internal wall, ceiling and floor finishes. For more information, see:

If there is any doubt as to whether your project requires a building consent or not, check with your designer first  or contact Council’s Duty Building Officer by phoning 03 546 0200.

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