Skip to main content

Building and building consents

A building consent is a formal approval to undertake building work in accordance with approved plans and specifications.

A building consent is a formal approval to undertake building work in accordance with approved plans and specifications. A building consent establishes that your proposed building work complies with the Building Act.

If you need a building consent, you must get it before building work starts. Building without a consent if one is needed, could result in fines and possibly the removal of the building work. It may also make it difficult for you to sell the building or get insurance.

A building consent is required for most building work, including:

  • New buildings (unless exempt under Schedule 1 of the Building Act)
  • Alterations to buildings (unless exempt under Schedule 1 of the Building Act)
  • Additions to buildings
  • Drainage work and adding plumbing fixtures
  • Relocating buildings
  • Installing, replacing and relocating solid fuel heating appliances
  • Installing and altering specified systems
  • Swimming pool fencing and most swimming pools
  • Retaining walls (unless exempt under Schedule 1 of the Building Act)
  • Change of use of buildings

There may be other legislation that you will also need to comply with and can be found at New Zealand Legislation website. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Building Regulations (includes the Building Code)
  • Resource Management Act 1991
  • Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006
  • Electricity Act 1992
  • Health Act 1956
  • Any local government bylaws

If you are undertaking a building or renovation project and have any doubts about the responsibilities, please contact Council’s building department and make an appointment to see one of our Building Inspectors.

To find out whether you need to apply for building consent for your building project, you can contact Council’s duty inspectors. Get in touch by email , or phone 03 788 9111 between 10am -12pm Monday to Friday.

The Building Act 2004 has a list of building work that doesn’t require a building consent. This information is contained in the 1st Schedule of the Act and can be located on the at New Zealand Legislation website.

Section 17 of the Building Act 2004 states that all building work must comply with the Building Code. Independent legal or technical advice should be sought to establish whether proposed building work is exempt.

While the Building Act provides for exemptions there might be other laws that you need to comply with.

You may apply to Council for review of your project to see whether it meets the exemption requirements. Applications must be made on the  Application for exemption form that can be found under Building Application Forms  

There will be a fee charged for this service.

Submit an application online

Applications may now be made electronically using the West Coast District Council’s online consent application system online at 

You will need to pay a deposit and this can be done by internet banking referencing the applicant name and site address to which the building work relates. You can check the relevant deposit for your application via the Fees and Charges document which can be found here

If you need help to lodge an online consent, please contact Council and a staff member will be happy to help.

When your application has been processed and approved the consent is granted and issued but will not be released until any outstanding fees are paid.

Any costs over and above the deposit will be invoiced or if the deposit paid is greater than the cost of the consent then the balance will be refunded to you.  A copy of the approved plans will be provided with your consent.  These must be kept on site at all times, and are to be made available to the inspector upon request.

Building work must begin within twelve months of the date the consent was issued or your consent will lapse and no longer be valid. 

Council must decide whether to issue or refuse to issue a code compliance certificate within two years from the date the consent was granted. In either case you may apply to the Council for an extension of time if your circumstances change and you need a bit more time to either start or complete the project.

Your consent documents will identify the type and number of inspections required eg prepour, floor slab, preline plumbing etc. For more information refer to our Inspection Requirements on the Information and Fees and Charges page.

It is the responsibility of the owner and/or builder to ensure that the appropriate inspections are booked when and as they are required. It is essential that these inspections are carried out so that Council can be satisfied before issuing the Code Compliance Certificate that the building work carried out complies with approved plans and specifications.

The approved building consent plans and specifications (stamped copies) must be available on site in order for the inspection to be carried out. If they are not available a further inspection may need to be carried out which will incur an additional cost.

As part of a commercial/industrial building consent, additional specialist engineering inspections may be required, as well as a requirement for producer statements to be presented to Council on job completion.

Council must decide whether to issue a code compliance certificate within two years from the date the consent was issued. If you are unable to complete the work within this timeframe you need to contact Council to request an extension of time.  There is a small fee for an extension of time.

A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) is a report issued by Council under section 32 of the Building Act 2004, by Council, prior to or in conjunction with a building consent.

A PIM report provides information known to the Council which is relevant to your building proposal e.g. location of services, compliance with zoning ordinances in the Buller District Plan. A PIM will also advise whether any other consents are required e.g. a resource consent.

PIMs are not mandatory. You need to identify on the consent application form whether a PIM is required or not.

For projects on difficult sites or larger projects, such as new commercial or industrial buildings a PIM may prove very useful in establishing the feasibility and design of your project and may prevent delays and reduce costs in the design of your proposal before getting to the building consent stage.

For more information refer to our the Customer Information Sheet on the Information and Fees and Charges page

View Buller District's building consent costs on our fees and charges page.

A customer has a right to appeal or to complain about any building function the Buller District Council undertakes; have this heard and resolved. Complaints provide feedback about our service and give us the opportunity to improve our performance.

Complaints may be made in person, by phone or fax, email or in writing, and must include what the complaint is about, the address if relevant, whether a complaint has been made previously, what action you would like to happen, a contact name and preferably a contact address.

The contact details are required so a staff member can advise you about what has happened, and any action taken. Generally, anonymous complaints will not be acted upon unless they relate to possible health and safety risks.

Complaints that are in relation to possible health and safety risks will be investigated as soon as possible. We will investigate your complaint and contact you to work through the issue. Your complaint will be acknowledged within 5 days, something will then be done about your complaint within 28 working days.

All complaints will be treated in confidence (your name will not be released under any circumstances) but if they relate to a staff member or any other individual the Council will also seek and consider their input before considering any action to be taken.

Complaints are recorded in a service request system and emailed to the appropriate department unless they concern a staff member in which case the complaint will be forwarded to the relevant team leader or manager.

The Group Manager Regulatory Services has the responsibility to ensure a satisfactory resolution of complaints but if you don’t believe that your complaint has been dealt with satisfactorily the Chief Executive has the ultimate responsibility for dealing with complaints if they have not been able to be resolved.

If you are still unhappy or choose to use an alternative route to settle a matter of doubt or dispute about a building control function you may apply to MBIE for a Determination. Visit for further information on this service.

A building control function is defined as a complaint about:

• meeting statutory time frames
• lodgement or vetting of Building Consent applications
• failure to meet legislative or Building Code requirements
• issuing Compliance Schedule
• failure to provide appropriate information or advice
• processing of Building Consent applications
• inspection of work under construction
• issuing of Code Compliance Certificates
• fees and charges
• issuing of a Notice to Fix