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Don't be mislead by the New Building Consent Exemptions

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

From the 31st of August 2020, new building consent exemptions were added to the Building Act for New Zealand.

There is already a list of exempt building work that can be carried out that does not require a building consent (with some still requiring help of a registered architect, chartered engineers and so on). This is found under Schedule 1 of BA04.

This new set of exemptions however have created quite an excitement among homeowners and property investors - specifically the exemption relating to single-story detached buildings, however it seems like there has been some risky misunderstandings with the rules.

Single-Story detached buildings:

These include sleepouts, sheds, greenhouses or another detached structures that you may wish to put on your site. Previously there was a 10sqm limit (hence all sheds that were sold were mostly under this size) and now this limit has been increased to 30sqm.

The natural reaction from investors and home owners is to take advantage of this new exemption and look for ways to put in an affordable 30sqm cabin/sleepout for extra rent or flexi space for the family.

From the questions that we've been asked it is clear that the framework of this exemption is not properly understood and people are at risk of undertaken illegal works. Here is a simple bullet pointed breakdown:

  • Although the word 'Sleepout' is used, the exemption does include adding in any plumbing, bathroom or kitchen facilities. This will still trigger a Building Consent

  • For the space to be habitable, it will still need to meet certain standards. (i.e. you cannot build a 30sqm shed-like structure and use it like a bedroom)

  • If the space is to be a sleepout, the existing main dwelling must have all the necessary facilities such as potable water. (i.e. you cannot put a 30sqm sleepout on piece of land that has not right of access of another dwelling on site). If the existing dwelling uses on-site waste water disposal systems then the capacity for the extra person(s) will need to be checked.

  • The structure has to be placed it's own height away from all boundaries and existing structures on site. This means you cannot erect a 30sqm sleepout or shed against your fence (if your fence is on your boundary) or within a couple of meters from any dwelling.

  • The building needs to be kitset, prefabricated by manufacturers who can prove the designs were undertaken by a professional or the building is designed and supervised on site during construction by a Registered architect or LBP.

  • While a building consent may be exempt, the owner should also consider the Resource Management Act as the addition of the new structure may exceed the maximum coverages allowed for the zoning, it may infringe the permeable surface or there may be building line restrictions and so on. These infringements would trigger the need for Resource Consent approval.

There are of course other things to consider such as under ground services and other requirements, it may sound a bit daunting when listed like this but it's all pretty straight forward and simple once all the parameters are understood. We are happy to assist with any queries you may have around this topic.

The purpose of these new exemptions, as described by Building Performance (MBIE) is as follows:

"The new exemptions will save building owners time and money, by not having to go to their local council for consent for common building projects. This reduction in building consents will also allow Councils to focus on building work that is higher-risk, helping to boost productivity."

Building work that does not require a building consent must still comply with the Building Code and other legislative requirements, such as those under the Resource Management Act 1991, the Electricity Act 1992 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Any issues related to planning or resource management, or any projects with district planning implications will still need to be discussed with your local council.

Beyond Architects assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this site. The information contained in this site is provided as general information only. Please get in touch if you would like project specific professional advice.

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