Outstanding Building Consents and Unpermitted or Unrecorded Building Work

Outstanding Building Consents

Under the Building Act 2004, you have two years from the granting date of the building consent to complete your building work and have a code compliance certificate (CCC) issued for it. A CCC provides a guarantee of the quality of building work done and will help you insure your property or sell it in the future. 

If your work is finished: You will need to complete the Code Compliance Certificate application form in order for your final inspection to be booked.

If your work is still progressing: You can apply for a time extension. You must tell us why you need an extension and the expected timeframe for completion.

If we do not hear from you, we will consider your building consent inactive. For some types of building work, we may decide to undertake enforcement action e.g. issuing a notice to fix, issuing an infringement notice, or prosecution. This information will be made available on any land information memorandum (LIM) issued for your property. This may affect the value of your property, the validity of your property insurance and may also make selling your property difficult.

No CCC will be issued for the building work and an invoice will be sent for any outstanding costs. When you have completed the work, please contact us to re-open and discuss your file (additional fees will apply). 

Unpermitted or Unrecorded Building Work

A building consent is generally required before any building work starts - there is no such thing as a retrospective building consent. Exceptions to when a consent is needed are listed under Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004, and tend to be of a small scale, being within certain dimensional or volume limitations.

Please be aware that even if a project doesn’t need a building consent other acts, regulations and bylaws need to be adhered to.

Why are building consents and CCCs so important?

The building consent and associated project information memorandum process ensures that the proposed design meets the New Zealand Building Code and other Council requirements. The building consent process is completed with the issue of a Code Compliance Certificate (CCC) - which assures both the current and future owners that the building is legally compliant. Before issuing a CCC, our officers vet proposed plans against the building code and inspect the building to ensure that work is done in accordance with the approved plans.

Unconsented and unrecorded building work creates a potential liability as there is no assurance that the work meets the building code or other requirements. Insurance cover may be compromised and there may be a health risk or danger of injury to the occupants of an unsafe building.

What if a property I want to buy has unconsented or unrecorded building work?

Subsequent owners may have some redress, but generally inherit the liabilities of any illegal building work. It is prudent to be satisfied prior to the sale that the work will not create an ongoing problem to you.

One option for assessing the standard of unconsented or unrecorded work is to obtain a report by an appropriately qualified professional such as an independent building surveyor or registered structural engineer.

Does all building work require a consent and a CCC?

Despite the legal requirement, building work is sometimes carried out without the necessary prior consent. The problem often stems from owners with unrealistic time constraints persuading tradespeople to carry out work illegally.   

Other reasons why no consent was obtained may include:

  • Lack of knowledge of consent requirements.
  • Fee avoidance.
  • Emergency work.
  • Work was legally carried out by government agencies under other legislation, e.g. state houses.
  • Deliberate non-compliance.

Our role

We cannot provide any substitute for a building consent.

For work done without a building consent, we are limited under the Building Act 2004 to receiving applications for a Certificate of Acceptance (COA) for work carried out since July 1992. A COA application may incur more fees than a building consent, but does not have the status or value of a building consent, as Council staff can only certify what we can see, and we cannot see inside walls or foundations or verify the quality and durability of materials used.

We can decline to issue a COA where work does not comply with the building code or compliance cannot be verified. A notice to fix may be issued for significant non-compliant items that the Council becomes aware of from a COA application. Blatant or serious abuse by tradespeople and owners are likely to result in prosecution under the Building Act. Building Act infringement notice provisions allow our officers to fine tradespeople and owners when the situation warrants it.

Where work is found to be unsafe or unsanitary, we have an obligation to ensure that remedial work is undertaken and the associated building consent is obtained.

For work carried out prior to July 1992, we will only accept the lodgement of plans and other building information for the record. To have these documents lodged on record; customers should complete the registration of unpermitted or unrecorded works form. Documents lodged could include reports on the condition of the building by an engineer, architect, building surveyor or similar professional. No site inspection will be carried out and no report or confirmation as to the integrity of the building work will be provided by the Council. An administration fee applies for the costs of lodgement and processing of documentation.

A previous owner got a building consent, but no CCC. Can I tidy up the paperwork?

It’s worth calling us and requesting that a building officer looks into the consent. It may be possible that the CCC can be issued. Our staff time is cost-recoverable, so you may be charged for the service.