What you can build without consent

What you can build without consent

If you’re looking to extend and expand your home in some way, there can be a heck of a lot of hoops to jump through, depending on what it is that you’re wanting to do.

But some building work can be undertaken without building consent – meaning you’re free to work within the specified boundaries to your heart’s content. So, to help you figure out what you can do without worrying about paperwork, here’s a basic guide to work that’s exempt from building legislation.

(Before starting any new project, though, make sure you’re really confident that you’ve read up and checked in on everything – there may be a hefty fine coming your way if you inadvertently carry out work that does in fact require building consent.)

Getting stuck into fixing things up
Basic house maintenance is in the clear – this can include things like replacing weatherboard in the same position, or replacing roof cladding that has lived out its durability requirement – as long as you’re replacing it with a comparable material. If you’re wanting to replace corrugated iron roofing with concrete tiles, though, that will need consent, as the tiles are heavier and will potentially have a substantial and detrimental effect on the building’s structural integrity.

Over on The Property Inspectors’ website, I’ve gone into more detail about other consent-exempt building projects – from pergolas, to skylights, to sleepouts!

Building something small
There’s an exemption for ‘single-storey detached buildings not exceeding 10 square metres in floor area’ – which basically translates to things like garden sheds or sleepouts. Keep in mind though that if you want to include cooking or sanitary facilities in the new structure, you will need consent.

Popping up a pergola
A pergola has a simple frame and no roof – perfect for integration into garden features. You can build as large a pergola as you want – but it must not have any kind of roof covering, not even plastic sheeting or clear polycarbonate. So if you’re wanting an outdoor installation that’s safe from the elements, you’re safest to check in on whether it’s going to be larger than 10 square metres (as mentioned above) – otherwise (you guessed it!) you’ll be needing to organise building consent.

Outbuilding repair and replacement
You have a little more flexibility with regard to size if you’re working with an existing structure. Maybe your garage is a little worse for wear and you want to replace it with a prefab version, or you decide to downsize your garage from a double to a single to maximise outdoor living space. The general rule of thumb here is that the building must be a comparable structure – so, for example, you couldn’t replace a carport with a fully-fledged garage – and the footprint must not exceed the existing structure.

A little something extra

There is some degree of flexibility around the installation of windows and doors, as long as you work within the limits of the exemption. They’re the sorts of things that make sense, when you think about it. If you’re installing a skylight, be sure to pick its place between the existing roof trusses. If you want to remove a window and replace it with a wall, make sure that you’ll still be meeting all the building code requirements with regard to ventilation and natural light.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has a thorough guide to the ins and outs of what you can and can’t do – so if you’re looking for any kind of clarification, have a look – or you can always get in touch with me for a little extra advice!

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