• Advice

Renovation loans to take advantage of new building consent exemptions

NZ Building Consent Exemptions

– New Building Consent Exemptions commence in 3 days on 31 August 2020 –

Early in 2020 the Government announced that certain new types of building work would no longer require a building consent. It was estimated that this would result in a reduction in building consent applications by approximately 9,000, and would save homeowners up to $18,000,000 a year.

The Building Act contains a list of project types that are exempt from needing consent, and from 31 August 2020 a number of new types of low-risk jobs will be added to the list. This includes sheds, sleep outs, carports, ground-mounted solar panels, and outdoor fireplaces.

This is great news for builders and DIYers who are now freed from waiting on consent approval on projects that they would otherwise be able to move straight ahead and begin. This was often the most difficult and frustrating part of the process, the waiting for red tape.

Finances may now be the only remaining obstacle in the way of breaking ground, which is where Alternate Finance can offer a solution in the form of a renovation loan. Whatever stage you’re at, preparing to sell up to either upgrade or downsize, or happy to stay put and improve your living situation, a renovation loan can help you achieve your goals sooner and get on with enjoying a better quality of life.

A renovation, or, home improvement loan is a type of personal loan designed to help you fund home improvement projects whether it’s largely DIY or heavily dependent on the services of professionals.

Why borrow to improve your home and property?

The good news about renovation loans is that the projects you undertake often provide a return on investment for the careful renovator. If one of your goals is to create capital gains from your improvements, then you can certainly reap the rewards of your labour when it comes time to sell. The key is to plan wisely and don’t overcapitalise by needing to always have the high-end version of everything. Other reasons to apply for a home renovation loan are:

  • The new sleepout exemptions provide an excellent opportunity to save time and money on building a new sleepout that can become an source of income, by taking a tenant on and earning rental income.
  • Greenhouses, also now exempt from building consent (30m2 max), could be a great way to grow your own vegetables and see big savings at the supermarket which regularly sell veges at outrageous prices. Building materials for builds like these can be recycled and relatively inexpensive.
  • Quality of life. A garden shed can provide a storage solution for an untidy yard cluttered with garden tools, potting mix, lawnmowers, bikes and sports equipment. Also, peace of mind can be achieved through secure garden storage of poisonous herbicides and insecticide.
  • Increased privacy. A new fence or hedge might bring much needed privacy from nosey neighbours. Enjoy a break from the prying eyes of old Betsy.
  • Health outcomes. Double-glazing or an HRV system will do wonders to prevent damp and mould, a common cause of asthma and other such ailments.

The New Exemptions

Single-storey detached buildings

You no longer need a building consent for sheds, sleepouts, greenhouses and other similar structures. However, this doesn’t include bathroom or kitchen work and, as before, any electrical work will need to be done by a registered electrician and any plumbing work still needs a consent.

The key factor is whether your plan does not exceed a maximum floor area of 30 square metres. If it is under this limitation, then your build must meet at least one of these 3 requirements:

  • It’s a kitset or prefabricated building that has had its design done or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer.
  • It’s a building which will have its design and construction supervised by a Licensed Building Practitioner.
  • It’s a building with structural components made from only lightweight materials and built in compliance with the Building Code (B1/AS1).

Carports, Awnings, Verandas and Porches

Under the new exemptions, you can build a carport (up to 40m2), ground-floor awning (up to 30m2), and ground-floor veranda or porch (up to 30m2) without a building consent provided that:

  • The design has been done or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer, or
  • The design and construction has been done or supervised by a Licensed Building Practitioner.

Outdoor Fireplaces or Ovens

From 31 August 2020, you are now also exempted from obtaining a building consent for building a permanent outdoor fireplace or over built to a max. Height of 2.5 metres, and with a maximum surface for cooking of 1m2. These projects are also subject with fire restrictions in your area (check with your council/local government) and must be at least 1m away from any building or property boundary.

Other Exemptions

Also included in the new exemptions are flexible water storage bladders, ground-mounted solar panel arrays (with zone-specific size guidelines), small pipe supporting structures (water-carrying and on private land), small bridges (6m max. length), and single-storey pole sheds and haybarns in country zones (110m2 max.).


Here’s a handy guide by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to all building work that is exempt (on the list of exemptions in Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004) from needing a building consent: Exempt building work guidance. This includes:

  • General alterations, maintenance and removal
  • Detached, standalone buildings
  • Windows, doors and walls
  • Plumbing and drainage
  • Insulation and moisture barriers
  • Porches, verandas and pergolas
  • Platforms, decks and bridges
  • Shelters, shades and carports
  • Fencing and restrictions
  • Playground equipment
  • Pools, tanks and dams
  • Signage
  • Support structures
  • Other structures
  • Network utilities

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