In New Zealand there is a ‘Do it yourself (DIY)’ culture, where most people when doing renovations will opt to do all work, they physically can themselves. It is a way to reduce costs and really get involved.
Most home renovations can be done yourself, however there are some specialist home improvements like plumbing and electrics which will need professional help. If you don’t get professional help on these sorts of things then you could cause significant issues in your home or you could injure yourself.
Many alternations and renovations will require building consent. This is a formal approval of the building work that you are proposing This kind of work must be done by a licensed building practitioner. Under the Building Act 2004, these types of building work include:
- structural building work – including alterations, additions, repiling and some demolition
- most plumbing and drainage work where an additional fixture are being installed the relocation of buildings
- some site work, for example, earthworks for a new extension
- the construction of fences over 2.5 metres high
- Construction of a retaining wall over 1.5 metres high
- installing in a swimming pool or spa pool.
If you have worked out that you do need a building consent, then you will need to fill out an application form. You are not allowed to start any physical work on your building project until you have the building consent.
You need to make sure that your application has a solid foundation to make well informed, efficient and cost-effective decisions. Having a good application form will also help speed up processing and approval times.
You can usually get an application form from your local council or you can download one form their website. On their website they will have more information about whether they have any special requirements for you filling in the form.
If your home renovation needs building consent but you start work without one, you’re committing an offence and the penalties include fines of up to $200,000 and the removal of the work you’ve done.
Any building work in New Zealand must comply with the Building Code. The Building Code is contained in regulations under the Building Act 2004. The Act governs the building sector and sets out the rules for the construction, alteration, demolition and maintenance of new and existing buildings in New Zealand.
Any plans are assessed by building consent authorities (BCAs), who are usually the council, to make sure that the building complies with the Building Code. When they believe this to be true, they will issue building consent for the work so they can proceed.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) provide overall leadership of the building industry. They manage the system that regulates building work and make sure it is always up to date. This means they regularly review the Building Code and product documents to show ways to comply with it. If a dispute arises over compliance with the Building Code, then you can go to the MBIE for advice.