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Building consents for low-risk projects gone

Published: 26 May 2020

The Government’s scrapping of requirements for low-risk building consents is good news, Auckland Council’s Building Consents Manager Ian McCormick says.

“Auckland Council has been advocating for similar changes for a long time. Reduced regulatory oversight for low-risk work is a common-sense approach that will give our staff capacity to support the industry where it’s actually needed,” Ian says.

Exemptions to the Building Act, which will be introduced in August, will mean anyone can build a sleep-out, a carport, or a shed, without needing council permission. It will save DIY enthusiasts time and an estimated $18m in fees.

The move will also allow councils to focus on higher-risk building work and larger projects, supporting the construction industry in its COVID-19 recovery.

Proposals for building work exemptions include:

  • Larger single-storey detached buildings up to 30 square metres
  • Carports with a maximum floor area of 40 square metres
  • Awnings
  • Verandas and porches
  • Outdoor fireplaces or ovens
  • Flexible water storage bladders for irrigation and firefighting only, up 200,000 litres in storage capacity
  • Short-span bridges on private land without public access
  • Detached single-storey pole sheds and hay barns

Chair of Auckland Council’s Regulatory Committee, Councillor Linda Cooper, says in these uncertain times, less red tape and expense is beneficial for everyone.

“It will help speed up the building consent process and is a boon for homeowners, builders and council.”

Cr Cooper says that, in many cases, Auckland Council has already been using its statutory discretion under the Building Act to exempt some low-complexity work.

An example of the benefits of the new legislation would be that homeowners were previously limited to being able to build just a single car carport without a consent, but under the forthcoming changes, they can now build a double car carport without requiring a consent.

Another is that they will be able to build a ground floor veranda and porch up to 30 square meters, providing they’ve been designed by either a Chartered Professional Engineer or Licensed Building Practitioner.

While the news is good, Ian sends a caution to building owners to construct carefully and be vigilant.

“You may not need a consent, but your work still has to comply,” he says. 

“Exempt building work is still required to comply with the building act, building code and other legislation including the Unitary Plan.

“If in doubt, homeowners should use the services of trained, licensed building practitioners. It’s also a good idea to have a written contract with your builder that describes the services being provided.”

Ian says if exempt building work fails, homeowners’ only option is to seek damages from their builder.

“We encourage you to familiarise yourself with the changes and relevant legislation before planning building work."

For more information visit aucklandcouncil.govt.nz, MBIE, or the Government Building Performance website.

You can add a record of exempt building work to a property file here and request an exemption from needing a building consent​ here.

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