Building regulations  |  30 Sep 2020

Homeowners still need to meet the building code and other legal requirements following the introduction of new exemptions to building consents.

Under Building Act changes, which came into force on 31 August, building consents are no longer compulsory for low-risk structures up to a designated size, including sleep-outs, sheds, carports, decks, verandas, outdoor fireplaces and ground-mounted solar panels, along with general alterations.

Previously, homeowners had to obtain building consents for some of these smaller projects from their local councils.

Christchurch City Council Consenting and Compliance General Manager Leonie Rae points out that all exempt projects must still comply with the Building Act and other legal requirements, including resource management, local planning, electricity and health and safety rules.

“Many structures allowed under these new exemptions need to be carefully positioned on a site to avoid the requirement for a resource consent for a breach of the Christchurch District Plan,” Ms Rae says.

“Homeowners must still meet the relevant standards required under the law but may no longer require a building consent from the Council for their project.

“Under the changes, the sizes of previously exempted building projects have been increased and licensed builders and professional engineers have been given more authority.”

Homeowners can now build a bigger sleep-out or garage without consent – as long as the new structure meets local planning rules and national regulations.

If homeowners are confused about what they can or cannot build without Council consent, they need to contact the duty building consent officer or the duty planner for advice.

“Depending on the type of building project, a chartered professional engineer or licensed builder may also need to be involved,” Ms Rae says.

The changes aim to save homeowners from having to pay for building consents for low-level building projects and ease the pressure on councils dealing with the rising demand for consents.

For more information and a full list of exemptions, go to