July 13, 2020

Low-Risk Building Consent Changes: Everything You Need To Know

New building consent exemptions

As the country looks to “Build Back Better” following the COVID-19 lockdown, we’re exploring what the New Zealand Government’s new building consent exemptions mean for Kiwis looking to renovate, expand, or build!

For years the building consent process has been long, expensive, and complicated.

Gaining consent for minor home alterations has left many homeowners discouraged and out-of-pocket. While there’s still a lot of uncertainty right now, Kiwis are taking recent events in their stride as an opportunity to build a future that makes life after lockdown a little easier for everyone.

With their most recent announcement, it looks like the Government is, too!

Things are set to change in August 2020. The Government has announced significant amendments to the Building Act that will remove red-tape from low-risk alterations. Minor renovations will be exempt from council-approved building consent, simplifying the consent process and clearing the backlog.

Homeowners and DIYers will no longer have to jump through hoops to make basic improvements. Excited by the potential, today we’re sharing more information on these changes and exactly what they mean for you.

A common-sense approach to low-risk renovations

Changes to building consent exemptions are set to save homeowners “…up to $18 million a year”, and will reduce “…the number of consents by about 9,000”. With fewer consents to sign off, councils will be able to speed up the process and allow larger projects to get underway much faster.

The amended exemptions include:

  • Kitset or prefab single-storey detached buildings such as sleepouts, sheds, and greenhouses of up to 30 square metres.
  • Ground-mounted solar array panels.
  • Carports up to 40 square metres.
  • Ground floor awnings of up to 30 square metres.
  • Ground floor verandas and porches of up to 30 square metres.
  • Outdoor ovens and fireplaces.
  • Small pipe supporting structures for carrying water.
  • Flexible water storage for irrigation and firefighting of up to 200,000 litres.
  • Single-storey pole sheds and hay barns for rural dwellings.
  • Short-span bridges on private property.

You can find additional information on the specifics of these changes here.

A silver lining for Kiwi DIYers

These changes are good news for DIYers!

If you’re a DIYer at heart, you know the feeling of just wanting to get on with the job. Especially when inspiration strikes! A simple stamp is all you need to get started, but the long wait for your consent to be passed can see your inspiration dwindle. There goes your window of DIY opportunity.

Now you can hit the tools without worrying about the paperwork. So long as you receive the tick of approval from a Chartered Professional Engineer or a Licensed Building Practitioner, you can build that veranda, install that carport, or create extra space with a detached dwelling.

Unclogging the backlog and building the future

Councils are constantly overloaded with building consents. On average, it takes around 20 working days for a consent to be signed off. The timeline is extended if the council requires further information.

With the number of new builds skyrocketing in recent years, the building consent backlog has grown by the day, extending the timeline on almost all consents. Changes to the Building Act will reduce the backlog of applications and allow large projects to get underway faster, increasing activity in the construction industry and keeping Kiwis employed at this crucial time.

There’s a long road ahead, but these changes improve our chances for a speedy economic recovery.

New exemptions streamline the Podlife process

The most significant change to the Building Act is the exemption for single-storey detached dwellings of up to 30 square metres. Detached dwellings provide the perfect space for granny flats, home offices, and sleepouts. It’s great news for homeowners looking for more functional space on their property.

Newly exempt works still need to be built to New Zealand standards and signed off by an engineer. Podlife Pods are! This means that all of our open-plan Pods no longer require building consent which makes it easier for you to get the space you need at a price you can afford.

We’ve always taken care of the consent process for our clients (we know what a drag it can be), but the changes to the Building Act simplify the process that much further. Ranging from 10 square metres to 17 square metres, our Pods are an affordable solution for home extensions or standalone tiny homes.

Building back better, faster, stronger

With the Government’s most recent changes, it’s an exciting time for homeowners and a sign of just how great Kiwis are at turning a problem into an opportunity for something better. Come August we’ll all be able to start “Building Back Better” whether that’s a new build or expansion to an existing property.

Looking for ideas? Take a look at our other posts and be sure to check back later as we continue to explore the spaces where everyday Kiwis live, work, and play!