Building Consent Requirements For Repair or Maintenance Work

A building consent is not required for a range of general building repairs, maintenance, and replacement of parts.

What the law says

Subject to section 42A of the Building Act, Schedule 1 exempts the following from a building consent:

1. The repair and maintenance of any component or assembly incorporated in or associated with a building, provided that comparable materials are used.

2. Replacement of any component or assembly incorporated in or associated with a building, provided that: (a) a comparable component or assembly is used; and (b) the replacement is in the same position.

3. However, subclauses (1) and (2) do not include the following building work:

(a) complete or substantial replacement of a specified system; or

(b) complete or substantial replacement of any component or assembly contributing to the building’s structural behaviour or fire-safety properties; or

(c) repair or replacement (other than maintenance) of any component or assembly that has failed to satisfy the provisions of the building code for durability, for example, through a failure to comply with the external moisture requirements of the building code; or

(d) sanitary plumbing or drainlaying under the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006.

Guidance on the exemption

This exemption enables building owners to maintain their buildings, including carrying out any repairs or replacement, without having to get a building consent.

For further guidance on this exemption, we suggest you refer to the Ministry’s regular building controls newsletter Codewords which often contains relevant examples. 

The Ministry has also issued relevant determinations under the Building Act (eg Determination 2013/058 and Determination 2013/071) that include discussion about what is considered complete or substantial replacement and what is meant by comparable materials, components or assemblies.

Examples where this exemption could apply

Replacing a 20-year old profile metal roof cladding (eg corrugated iron or pressed metal tiles), where that cladding has achieved its Building Code durability requirement (ie it lasted more than 15 years) and the replacement cladding is a comparable component or assembly (eg profiled metal roofing).
Replacing old rotten wooden piles under a house with new treated timber piles in the same positions, as long as the work is not complete or substantial replacement.
Replacing a damaged fire sprinkler head in the same position in a commercial building. This work is not considered substantial as only one fire sprinkler head is being replaced rather than the whole specified system.
Repairing and repainting damaged solid plaster exterior wall cladding, where the damage was not due to a durability failure (eg it was caused by a motor vehicle backing into the wall). 
Maintaining a weatherproofing membrane (eg a fibreglass and painted surface system on an existing deck that forms the roof over a habitable room) by applying a new coat of fibreglass and paint in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. 
Replacing a damaged inner stainless steel flue for an existing solid fuel heater (eg a wood burner) in the same position. As the undamaged outer flue liner is remaining and will continue to protect the building against the possible spread of fire, the scope of work is not considered to be complete or substantial replacement of a component that contributes to the building’s fire safety. 
Replacing, in the same position, any number of existing non fire-rated wooden doors and windows (joinery and glazing) with new aluminium doors and windows
Carrying out repairs or replacement work to a damaged brick chimney of a functioning open fireplace following an earthquake. The repair involves using comparable materials and the scope of work is not considered to be complete or substantial replacement of any components that contribute to the building’s structural behaviour or the fire safety of the building. 
Repairing or replacing masonry veneer wall cladding (eg brick or stone) which has been damaged, for example, by a large earthquake. 
Simple plumbing repairs, such as replacing tap washers or ballcock valves. (Refer to exemption 32 for repairs, maintenance and replacement to sanitary plumbing and drainage which must be carried by an ‘authorised person’). 
Replacing an old clay tile roof with a profiled metal roof (eg longrun roofing or pressed metal tiles) in the same position. Since the scope of work involves replacing a heavy weight roof with light weight, such issues as how to deal with higher uplift forces must be considered. The owner may elect to use NZS 3604:2011 to show compliance with the Building Code. As the scope of work is not considered to be complete or substantial replacement of a component or assembly that contributes to the building’s structural behaviour, the building work falls within the scope of this exemption. 
Replacing exterior wall cladding that has failed within 15 years of the cladding being installed, resulting in damage to the wall framing.
Rebuilding a house that has been significantly damaged by fire or earthquake. Although the building may have met its durability requirements under the Building Code, the proposed building work would involve complete and substantial replacement of structural components. Therefore, a building consent is required.
Repairing an exterior wall following vehicle impact damage where the repairs require complete replacement of wall framing and integral bracing elements.
Replacing an earthquake or fire damaged roof to a warehouse where the work includes the complete replacement of roof trusses that affect the building’s structural behaviour.
Replacing old corrugated iron roofing with new concrete tiles. The new heavier tiles will impose an increased load on the existing structure which is likely to substantially affect the building’s structural behaviour.
Repositioning a solid-fuel heater (eg a wood burner) by shifting it from one end of a living room to the other.
Replacing an existing solid-fuel heater with a comparable appliance in the same location. This will require a building consent as the installation will affect the building’s fire safety properties.