Building Overview

Building Information

In this section

Do I need a building consent?

You should contact the Duty Building Officer on 03 687 7236 or visit the main office, 2 King George Place, Timaru, to determine whether or not your proposed project requires consent(s).

If you are planning a project that involves demolishing, constructing, or altering a building, it is likely you will need some form of consent before you proceed.  All building work (whether or not it requires consent) must comply with the Building Act 2004 and the Building Code.

The Act and the Code are legally binding and, if you breach them or don't obtain a building consent, you may face penalties.

Here are some examples of work that requires a consent:

  • Any structural building including new buildings, additions, alterations, accessory buildings (sheds), and re-piling
  • Plumbing and drainage
  • Heating (fireplaces), ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Siteworks for a building
  • Retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres, or retaining walls with a building or driveway near the top
  • Fences higher than 2.5 metres and any swimming pool fence
  • Swimming pools
  • Decks more than 1.5 metres from ground level

Building work that does not require a building consent (exempt building work)

Schedule One of the Building Act 2004 sets out the building projects that do not require Building Consent, ie are exempt work. If you have questions about the exemptions contained in Schedule One, and after you have read the Exempt Building Work Information Sheet you should contact the Duty Building Officer as above.

Approval must be sought from the Council if you wish to have an exemption considered under the Building Act 2004, Schedule 2, Clause 2 of Part 1.  You should complete a Notification of Exempt Work and add the appropriate fee.

If your proposed work is covered by clauses of Schedule 1 other than Clause 2 of Part 1, then you may still apply to have that work recorded.  This will allow a copy of the exemption and plans to be placed on your Council Property File for reference in the future, e.g. if the property should be sold and a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) requested, the information will show on the LIM.

Important note:An exemption does not, of itself, permit building work if that building work would be in breach of any other Act (e.g. exempt building work may still require planning approval). All exempt building work is required to comply with the Building Code.

Things to consider

  • Check to see if your proposed building work complies with the requirements of the District Plan, or is already provided for by an existing Resource Consent. If it isn't, you may need to apply for Resource Consent. Do this by contacting the Duty Planner.
  • A Services Consent is required for all works carried out associated with Council owned assets systems including public water, sewer and stormwater supplies and any work affected roads and footpaths, including berms.
  • Whether an approval or consent is required from Environment Canterbury.
  • Whether your proposed work involves an historic or heritage building. Discuss with the Duty Planner in the first instance.

Applying for a Building Consent and/or a Project Information Memorandum (PIM)

When do you need to apply?

An owner intending to carry out building work must, before the building work begins, apply for a building consent, or have their agent (eg Designer, Builder or Project Manager) apply on their behalf. It is wise to do this at least two months prior to undertaking the work to allow for processing time and the provision of any additional information that may be required.

Where do you apply?

There are 2 ways you can apply for a building consent, either via our online system or providing a hard copy application. It is preferable that hard copy applications are received at the Timaru main office, however it may be more convenient for you to drop your application into the Geraldine or Temuka Service Centres and they will forward it to the Building Unit.

Please Note: If you want to apply for your consent via our Online system, you will need to contact the Building Control Manager to be set up as a online user. Jayson Ellis: or 03 687 7466

To lodge your application by post please address it to:

Main Office TimaruTemuka Service CentreGeraldine Service Centre
Duty Building Officer
Timaru District Council
2 King George Place
Temuka Library, Service and Information Centre
72-74 King Street
Geraldine Library, Service and Information Centre
78 Talbot Street

Project Information Memorandum (PIM)/Planning Approval/Resource Consents

Along with a building consent, the applicant may also decide to apply for a project information memorandum (PIM). This may be sought prior to the building consent, which is often the wise option, or concurrently with a building consent. The applications for building consent and/or a PIM are made on the same form.A PIM provides information about land and the requirements of other Acts that might be relevant to the proposed building work, including compliance with the District Plan, heritage status, the status and availability of services, etc.

A Services Consent is required for all works carried out associated with Council owned assets systems including public water, sewer and stormwater supplies (eg connections, disconnections, additional units) and any work affected roads and footpaths, including berms.

It may also advise resource consent requirements. You can also contact Timaru District Council Duty Planner on 03 687 7271 for clarification. If a resource consent is required, you are strongly advised to obtain this before seeking a building consent to avoid possible expensive changes to your proposal.

Approval from Environment Canterbury Regional Council is required for any discharge to land from a stormwater or septic system. This may be Permitted Activity approval or it may require a resource consent.

Information Sheets / Application Forms / Checklist and Processing Sheets

Refer to Information Sheets and also to Forms and Checklists for all of the Application Forms and Checklist and Processing Sheets you require for your project.

Supporting Information Requirements

Refer to What Supporting information do you need to furnish?

Building Consent Process

Lodging Application

You can lodge your application to Timaru District Council either via our online system or in hard copy. Hard copies can be delivered to the Timaru main office or to the Temuka and Geraldine service centers. If posting please address to, The Building Unit PO Box 522, Timaru 7940, with the appropriate application form(s)

Checking application for completeness (vetting)

The application will be initially checked (Vetted) to see if there is sufficient information to fully process your application. If not, you will be required to provide further information before the application can be accepted.

The approval process (detailed checking of plans and supporting documents, checking by other council units and authorities) 

The Council is required to "Grant" a Building Consent within a statutory 20 working day timeframe, once the consent has been accepted for processing. In the case of a Multi Proof Approval application the Granting of this consent is required to be within 10 working days.

The plans will be assessed to ensure they comply with the New Zealand Building Code.

Within this period Units within Council other than the Building Unit may assess the project for compliance with various legislative requirements such as the Timaru District Plan, Resource Management Act, Fire and Emergency NZ Act, Heritage NZ Act, Council Bylaws etc. The council units that will check your application are known as Planning, Drainage & Water, Trade Waste, Roading and Environmental Health. The involvement of these units depends on the scope of the project. If you propose to undertake an internal alteration it would not be assessed by other Units unless it was a Heritage Building or place. However, all new buildings/dwellings or additions will require assessment by other units.

External Contractors

Dependent on workloads, from time to time the there is the need to use an external contractor to process consent applications. External contractors are able to log into the Timaru District Council system and process application in the same way as council staff.

Fire & Emergency New Zealand (FENZ)

Some consent applications will need to be reviewed by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Under Section 46 of the Building Act 2004 the BCA is required to send certain applications to Fire & Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) to review and provide advice relating to "means of escape from fire" and "the needs of persons who are authorised to to enter the building to undertake fire-fighting". Where this occurs the FENZ have 10 working days in which to provide their advice / memorandum to the BCA.

Types of applications that are required to be sent are detailed here.

Requests for further information

On completion of the technical checking of your application, there may be uncertainty around compliance with the building code. Should this be the case a "Request for Further Information" (RFI's) will be sent to the applicant and the application will be suspended until that information is provided in full. A "stop the clock" system is used during the suspension to keep track of the 20 working day time period. This allows the 20 day clock to stop when the information is requested and to start again when the complete information is received.

It is important to note that if many RFI's are identified, council has the discretion to "Refuse to Grant" your consent. Therefore council encourages anyone that wishes to submit an application to ensure they have sufficient knowledge and competency to provide compliant information, which in turn will reduce councils time and costs relating to your consent.

Granting your consent

Council may decide to grant your consent once the plans and specifications have been assessed and they comply with the New Zealand Building Code, this is what is referred to as being "satisfied on reasonable grounds". Now the application can be "Granted" and the PIM (if this has been applied for and not already issued) and an invoice are prepared. The "stop the clock" is actioned and is not lifted until the consent has been paid in full. When this happens the approved plans are uplifted and the building work can commence.

Some building consents may include conditions. These conditions could relate to the specified intended life of the building eg - 25 years instead of 50 years or relate to the effects of natural hazards, eg - erosion, falling debris, subsidence, inundation (flooding), slippage or the requirement of a Resource Consent to be obtained. Please ensure that you read the consent documents to make sure you are aware of these conditions, applicable to your consent before starting the building work.

The requirement of a Resource Consent from either Timaru District Council or Environment Canterbury, may impact on your ability to start the building work, so please check these carefully.

Refusing to Grant your consent

Council may decide to refuse to grant your consent application. The reason for this decision is that the owner or applicant has not provided sufficient information for council to establish compliance with the building code. In other words council can not be satisfied on reasonable grounds.

Council staff will work with the owner and or applicant throughout this process, however discretion to refuse to grant an application, if compliance with the building code is not established, can be made at any stage of the approval process.

Once you have received your Building Consent

Don't forget to book all your inspections at the correct time before proceeding with further building work.

All building work must be carried out in accordance with your approved building consent. If you wish to change some aspect of the project you must obtain an amendment to the building consent before the work is carried out.

If the work has not been done in accordance with the building consent the Building Advisor may issue a Notice to Fix or a site instruction notice stating what is required to be done.

A building consent shall lapse if work has not commenced within 12 months of the date of issue, unless a time extension has been granted.

When all work is completed you must make application for a Code Compliance Certificate provided all work is completed, documentation provided and fees paid.

Start Time - lapsing of Building Consent

A building consent lapses if work does not commence within 12 months of the date of issue of the consent, therefore you must have started work before that date or any further time as allowed by Council, ie an Application should have been approved for an Extension of Time.

A building consent is considered commenced at the time of the first inspection.

Extensions of Time

There are some instances where it may be necessary to apply for an extension of time once a building consent has been issued.

No Commencement of Building Work Within 12 Months

One such instance is where no building work to which a building consent relates has commenced within 12 months after the date of issue of the building consent.

If you have been issued a building consent under the Building Act 2004 and building work has not commenced with in the first 12 months then the building consent lapses and is of no effect. Accordingly, if you are likely to find yourself in this situation you can apply for an extension of time provided this is done before the 12 months are up.

Building Work Not Completed After 2 Years

Another instance where an extension of time may be relevant is when Code Compliance Certificates are being considered.

An Owner must apply for a Code Compliance Certificate as soon as practicable after the building work is completed. If no application for Code Compliance Certificate is made then the Council must decide whether to issue a Code Compliance Certificate at the expiry of two years after the date the building consent was issued. Accordingly if all the building work has not been completed, an extension of time can be applied for.

Application for extension of time must be signed by the land owner (or authorised agent).

There is a fee for considering the application.

Publish Date: 01 Apr 2014