Frequently asked questions
Find answers to common questions you may have when building a home
What is Restricted Building Work?
Doing or supervising building or design work as part of the construction or alteration of residential buildings may be classified as restricted building work (RBW). A Licensed Building Practitioner in the appropriate class must do or supervise this type of work.
A lot of residential building work will include RBW. If the work doesn’t require a building consent, then it is not RBW.
How do I find a reliable builder or tradespeople?
To find a tradesperson you can rely on, it’s worth asking around for recommendations. Check they belong to a professional association which guarantees the work of its members, for example the Certified Builders Association of New Zealand. You can find useful information about choosing tradespeople on the Consumer NZ website.
If the work is restricted building work, you will need to find a licenced building practitioner to do it.
What is a Licensed Building Practitioner?
Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) are designers, carpenters, brick and blocklayers, roofers, external plasterers, site and foundations specialists who have been assessed to be competent to carry out work essential to a residential building’s structure or weather tightness. There are different licence classes which specify what kinds of work a LBP is licensed to do.
How can I tell if someone is a LBP?
If you’re getting RBW done, ask to see your building practitioner’s LBP card to confirm the photo matches the person you’re planning to engage. Use the details on the card to find them on the public register of LBPs and confirm that they hold a current licence. Also check their licence class, licence status, status reason and suspension history. If there is a suspension history, check the suspension end date to ensure the licence is current.
Why do I need to use licensed people?
We all want warm, dry and safe homes that are built to last. Building rules help you get it right, protecting you and your home now and when you come to sell. As the homeowner, some of these rules affect the choices you make.
If your building work is critical to the integrity of your home, it may be restricted building work. This type of work ensures a property is structurally sound and weathertight. You must use a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) to design or carry out restricted building work. An LBP must do or supervise this work.
LBPs are assessed before getting a licence, and have to keep their knowledge up to date to be re-licensed. They include designers, carpenters or builders, roofers, brick and block layers, external plasterers, site and foundation specialists.
What are my consumer rights when using LBPs?
Your protection comes mainly under the Building Act, the Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Guarantees Act.
The Building Act provides a set of implied warranties which automatically begin when a tradesperson agrees to do building work for a client. This means that the building work must:
- Be fit for purpose
- Meet the Building Code
- Be according to the plans and specifications set out in the contract
- Be carried out using suitable materials
- Be carried out with reasonable care and skill
- Be completed by the date specified in the contract or if no date is specified, it should be completed within a reasonable time.
If there is a problem with the building work then whoever did the work is obliged to remedy the problem.
Who can join New Zealand Certified Builders?
New Zealand builders who are passionate about providing superior workmanship and meet the NZCB membership criteria. The first requirement is to hold a recognised trade qualification equivalent to, or better than, National Trade Certificate in Carpentry Level 4. They must also be a Licenced Building Practicitioner.
To ensure NZCB’s high standards are maintained, they also take into account a builder’s history of stability and success, continued solvency, absence of complaints by customers and suppliers, a good untarnished reputation and brand, and consistently high standards.
What type of work needs a consent?
You’ll need to check your local council requirements. Building work that needs a consent includes:
- Structural building including additions, alterations, re-piling and some demolitions
- Plumbing and drainage where additional sanitary fixture is created (some repair and maintenance may be exempt)
- Relocating a building
- Installing a woodburner or air-conditioning system
- Retaining walls higher than 1.5 metres (3.0 metres in rural area if designed by a chartered professional engineer)
- Fences or walls higher than 2.5 metres, and all swimming pools and their associated fences
- Decks, platforms or bridges more than 1.5 metres above ground level
- Sheds greater than 10 square metres in floor area
- Some earthworks.
What is a resource consent?
A resource consent is authorisation from your local council to undertake certain works or activities on a piece of land. These works may affect the environment and natural surroundings (bush, land, water, sky and animals), or the people and community nearby (including streetscapes, light and noise aspects, and heritage considerations).
On a construction site, these activities may include:
- Large-scale earthworks
- A building footprint larger or closer to a boundary than the district plan allows
- A new dwelling located in a flood-prone or contaminated area
- Works in close proximity to a watercourse, on a steep gradient, in a natural heritage area and/or in a coastal environment
Resource consents come with a set of conditions that reduce the risks to the environment and community. Common conditions for a residential new build may include:
- Sediment controls, such as silt fences and stabilised entrances
- Limiting on-site hours of work to prevent excessive noise in the community
- Certificates from trades such as engineers, surveyors and drainlayers
- Construction and traffic management plans
Do I need a resource consent?
Under the Resource Management Act, regional and city or district councils prepare plans to reflect the desires and aspirations of the local community in relation to natural or physical resources, and activities that affect the environment. Every plan is different because it relates to a different geographical location.
Regional councils prepare regional plans that focus on the management of air, water, land and soil.
City and district councils prepare district plans that focus on managing aspects of subdivision and land use that can affect the environment, such as:
- height, appearance and location of buildings and signs
- noise, glare and odour associated with the activities that take place in and around buildings.
Just as council plans vary, the need for resource consents varies from one area to another. You may need to apply for a resource consent, depending on the requirements of the district or regional plan. A resource consent is formal approval from your council to do something that they haven’t clearly identified in their plan as either permitted or prohibited. It includes things like:
- Using or subdividing land
- Taking water
- Discharging contaminants in water, soil or air
- Using or occupying coastal space
If you don’t need resource consent but want confirmation, a council can issue a certificate of compliance for permitted activities. This confirms that the activity is lawfully established in relation to the Resource Management Act. However, you may still need a building consent or need to meet district requirements.