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Do I need council approval for building in NZ?

Whenever you want to build or add to your property, it always seems there is a minefield of what you can or can’t do with regard to council regulations.
Many property owners will want to have some form of shed, craft room, potting shed or sleep out and often wonder what the rules and regulations are with regard to size, height and position. 

The below is a guide related to recent legislation changes. However, the SheShed team always recommend you check with your local council to be safe.

Answer the quick questions below to test your consent status:

Click on the toggle-button options below to preview your likely consent status.

Will your cabin include any sanitary plumbing or cooking facilities?

Including any kind of plumbing facilities for toilets, showers, sinks, or the storage of drinking water?

No it won't
Yes it will
Good news, no consent needed yet.
You will need to apply for building consent.

If the cabin will be used for sleeping: Is there an existing dwelling or facilities available nearby on the same property?

If used for sleeping accommodation, the facilities (eg bathroom and drinking water) of an existing dwelling must be readily available and used for sanitation.

Existing dwelling available
No existing dwelling
Good news, no consent needed yet.
You will need to apply for building consent.

Will your cabin have a floor level higher than 1 metre off the supporting ground?

(If you're building on a sloped section, measure from the proposed floor level down to the ground on the steapest side.)

1 meter or less
Higher than 1 meter
Good news, no consent needed yet.
You will need to apply for building consent.

Will your cabin be at least its own height away from the boundary or any residential building?

Have a look at the table below for a summary of heights, but please note that these heights are excluding any foundation or subframe. (Click on the tabs at the top to see a list of kitsets and heights within that size range.):

Yes it will
No it will be closer
Good news, no consent needed yet.
You will likely need to apply for building consent or ask for an exemption.
  • Cottage Garden Shed (5m2) = 2.6m tall.
  • Star Cabin (9m2) = 2.8m tall.
  • Tussock Cabin (8m2) = 2.47m tall.
  • Star Canopy (9m2) = 2.8m tall.
  • Cabana Cabin (12m2) = 2.9m tall.
  • Coastal Cabin (12m2) = 2.56m tall.
  • Ranch Cabin (12m2) = 2.9m tall.
  • Star Deluxe (18.75m2) = 2.8m tall.
  • Tasman Cabin (20m2) = 2.9m tall.
  • Alpine Cabin (19m2) = 2.71m tall.
  • Brook River Cabin (19.4m2) = 2.9m tall.
  • Lake Cabin (29m2) = 3.4m tall.

Now What's the Next Step?

Whether you need to get building consent or not, there are a few other things you'll need to have a check of as well.

1. Will your cabin comply with your local council's District Plan?
Each council creates its own District Plan specific to its area, so rules may vary depending on where your project is located. You must check with your local council to make sure your proposed building work complies with the District Plan. If it doesn't, you will need a resource consent before building work starts.

2. Will your cabin comply with other legislation?
You may need to consider additional rules and legislation, such as the Resource Management Act 1991.

3. With or without a building consent, you will need to make sure you follow the Building Code.
An example of this is that you will need to include a smoke alarm if anybody will be sleeping in the cabin.

4. Even if (based on the questions above), you do need to get council consent, your local council has the authority to grant you an exemption from it at their own discretion.
An example of this, is someone who needs to include plumping facilities in their cabin for use as a pottery studio. The use of "plumping facilities" would normally require a building consent, but as long as nobody will be sleeping in the cabin, most local council's are willing to provide an exemption in cases like this.

For more information about building rules, check out:

Do you have any questions?

We would love to help answer those for you!