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.

Process at a glance

Step 1: Plans and ideas prepared

Step 2: Project Information Memorandum (PIM) applied for and issued

Step 3: Detailed plans and specifications prepared

Step 4: Building consent applied for and deposit is paid

Step 5: Plans and specifications checked for compliance, also known as processing the application (Council may request further information during this step).  Council has 20 working days to decide to grant or refuse the consent.

Step 6: Building consent granted, and any outstanding fees and charges are invoiced

Step 7: Invoice is paid, and approved consent documents are issued

Step 8: Building work begins (building consents lapse if work does not begin within 12 months)

Step 9: Inspections during building process

Step 10: Apply for code compliance certificate (CCC)

Other useful information

Next steps