What kinds of home improvement work can I do without needing a building consent?
Many alterations and renovations require building consent. Under the Building Act 2004, the following building work requires a consent:
- alterations, additions and many structural repairs to existing buildings
- demolition of existing buildings and structures
- the removal or relocation of buildings
- site work, for example, earthworks for a new extension
- fences over two metres high
- putting in a swimming pool or spa pool
To find out a complete list of what needs consent, or if you are unsure about whether you need consent, talk to your local council. You can also look at the Consumerbuild website for more information about building consents or the Homeowners and consumers section of the Department of Building and Housing website Building and Housing website for general information about building and renovating.
What kinds of building work can I do if I’m not a professional builder?
Some types of building and design work are ‘restricted building work'; this generally covers work which is structural or affects weathertightness, e.g. the building’s foundations, framing roofing and cladding. In general, if the work does not require building consent then it is not restricted building work.
By law, restricted building work must be carried out by a ‘licenced building practitioner'. Licenced building practitioners include designers (e.g. registered architects and chartered engineers), carpenters, roofers, external plasterers, bricklayers and blocklayers , registered plumbers and gasfitters. Their licence defines the type of building or design work they are allowed to do.
If the work is not restricted building work, then you can carry it out yourself or hire someone else to do it who is not a licence building practitioner.
If the work is restricted building work, you may still be able to carry it out yourself if you get an owner-builder exemption. This exemption is for people if who want to build or renovate their own home.
You can apply for an owner-builder exemption if:
- You live in, or will live in, the house
- You will carry out the restricted building work yourself, or with the help of unpaid friends and family
- You have not carried out restricted building work on any other home, under the owner-builder exemption, in the last three years
You can find more information about the owner-builder exemption on the Building and Housing website.