Do I Need a Building Consent?

Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 lists what building work can proceed without obtaining a building consent. See the quick reference guide below for a summary.

Remember that all building work must comply with the Building Code and the New Plymouth District Plan. If it does not, you will be required to obtain a resource consent before building can begin. The District Plan can be viewed online or you can give us a call on 06-759 6060 to discuss.

If a building consent is not required for building works you may wish to register your project with us anyway. Reasons for registering building work exempt under Schedule 1 include:

  • You can be certain that your proposed work falls within the scope of Schedule 1 (and a building consent is not required).
  • It is a means of providing a report on file for future reference and property enquiries. (This may be useful when you sell your house.)
  • You may receive advice on how to comply with the Building Code. 

What is a building consent?

A building consent is permission from the Council allowing you to start and carry out building work in accordance with the consent, associated plans, specifications and the New Zealand Building Code.

When is a building consent needed?

For most building, plumbing and drainage work a building consent is required. Works exempt from building consent requirements tend to be of a small scale being within certain dimensional or volume limitations. Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 lists what building work can proceed without obtaining a building consent from the Council. See the quick reference guide below for a summary.  

Exempt works under Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004

Exempt works must still comply with the New Zealand Building Code.

Indications and guidelines issued by New Plymouth District Council are provided with the intention of helping people to understand the legislation. These are offered on a ‘no liability’ basis and those concerned should consult their own legal advisers.

Activity (Schedule 1 reference) Building consent is required when: No building consent is required when:
Homes (Part 1)
  • New dwelling, additions or alterations.
  • Changing the use of a building (e.g. house to
    office building, warehouse to church or retail to
  • Recladding with different materials and/or method.
  • Recladding with the same materials.
  • Construction, alteration or removal of a pergola.
  • Verandas: No more than 20 square metres (sq.m) over existing
    deck or patio, and at maximum first-floor height
    above ground.

  • Tents and marquees
    (section 5)
  • Floor area of tent/marquee larger than 100 sq.m for public and private use, and in place for longer than one month.


  • The construction, alteration, or removal of
    any tent or marquee that has a floor area not
    exceeding 100 sq.m if that tent or marquee is to
    be, or has been, used for public assembly for a
    period of not more than one month.

  • Outbuildings
    (section 7)
  • If any conditions in the column to the right are
    not met.
  • If the building is designed to contain hazardous
  • If the building:
  • Has a floor area of 10sq.m or less.
  • Is single-storeyed.
  • Contains no sanitary or cooking facilities.
  • Is at least its own height away from a
    residential building or boundary.
  • The demolition of all or part of a building that
    is detached (stand-alone) and is no more than
    three storeys high.
  • The repair or replacement of all or part of a
    damaged outbuilding.

  • Closing in existing veranda or patio to make a porch
    or conservatory (section 15)
  • Floor area larger than 5 sq.m.


  • Floor area of 5 sq.m or less.
  • Retaining walls (section 20)
  • Retains more than 1.5m depth of ground.
  • Retains a load in addition to the load of the
    ground (i.e. the weight of vehicles).

  • Retains 1.5m or less and does not support any
    load additional to that of the ground.
  • The removal of a retaining wall.
  • Freestanding walls and fences (section 21)

  • More than 2.5m in height.
  • Forming part of a swimming pool fence.
  • Less than 2.5m in height.
  • Dams (excluding large dams)
    (section 22)


  • Contact Taranaki Regional Council
    (06-765 7127) if you intend to build a dam.


  • Tanks
    (section 23)
  • All tanks other than those listed in the column
    to the right.
  • Tanks up to 35,000L capacity on the ground.
  • Tanks up to 16,000L capacity, 0.25m or less
    above the ground.
  • Tanks up to 8,000L capacity, 0.5m or less
    above the ground.
  • Tanks up to 4,000L capacity, 1m or less above
    the ground.
  • Tanks up to 2,000L capacity, 2m or less above
    the ground.
  • Tanks up to 1,000L capacity, 3m or less above
    the ground.
  • Tanks up to 500L capacity, 4m or less above the ground.

  • Pools
    (section 23)
  • All in-ground pools.
  • Any alterations to pool fencing and barriers. The building consent needs to be approved prior to construction.
  • Spa pools (portable or fixed, complying with NZBC F9/AS2), inflatable pools and above-ground proprietary pools may not require building consent but will need to be assessed on a case by case basis.
  • Inflatable pools and above-ground proprietary pools also require registration.
  • Platforms, decks and bridges (section 24)
  • Higher than 1.5m from the ground. (If over
    water, ‘ground’ means the bed of the water

  • Where it is not possible for a person to fall more
    than 1.5m.

  • NOTE
    : Platforms, decks and bridges more than 1m high will need to comply with ‘safety from falling’, and handrails/barriers will be required as per NZBC F4/AS1.

    Plumbing and drainage
    (Part 2)
  • Any complete or substantial replacement of
    plumbing and drainage.
  • Change in water supply system.

  • Very minor work, e.g. shifting gully trap.
  • If minor work does not involve new connection
    to reticulation.
  • Fireplaces and heaters
  • All solid and liquid fuel burners such as wood and diesel burners.
  • Permanently fixed gas heaters (must be
    certified by a registered gas fitter).
  • Fixed electric heaters (must be certified by a
    registered electrician).

  • Earthworks (excavation and fill)
  • Site works associated with building work.
  • Earthworks associated with retaining walls that retain more than 1.5m depth of ground.


    Lifts, cable cars, travelators and escalators
  • Install, remove or alter any lift, cable car, escalator, travelator or any other compliance schedule item.

  • Carports
  • At ground level
  • Does not exceed 20 sq.m

  • What happens if I do building work without a consent?

    The person undertaking the illegal work, and the owner of the property involved, will be in breach of the Building Act. You can receive a $1,000 fine and may be asked to demolish the work or prove that the building is safe and sanitary. A notice may be issued and prosecution may follow if you do not comply with this notice.

    Can’t I do the paperwork at the end?

    No - building consents cannot be issued after the project has started. As well as not being provided for in legislation, retrospective building consents are not possible in the practical sense. Building interpretations of the Building Act and regulations can be issued only by the courts.

     More information available here.