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A backyard shed made from stained weatherboards with a fern in a pot plant outside
The building and construction industry has been given a massive boost. To encourage more building work, the NZ Government is making updates to the current Building Act with more building consent exemptions. This will encourage more projects to commence, helping the industry and economy recover post COVID-19.

The content in this article is based on information from MBIE’s Building Performance website and was correct at the time of writing, August 2020.

Multiple consents and numerous inspections can slow the building process down. By cutting the red-tape, it will now be faster and more affordable with streamlined consenting and fewer on-site inspections. This will save homeowners money and dramatically reduce the number of building consents.

There are six new exemptions and another four current exemptions, which have been expanded. Most will start at the end of August, once the necessary changes to the Building Act have been made.

Single-storey detached buildings

Single-storey detached buildings such as sleep-outs, sheds, greenhouses and similar structures will no longer require council approval. The eligible size has been increased to include structures up to 30m2. However, kitchen or bathroom facilities are not included in the subsidy. Plumbing work will still require consent and electrical work will need to be carried out by a Registered Electrician. The design must also be carried out or reviewed by a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPE) or get a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) to construct or supervise the build.

Ground-mounted solar array panels

Exemptions for ground-mounted solar array panels will be granted based on whether it is built in an urban or rural zone. Urban zones are exempt for panels up to 20m2 that don’t need a professional, and up to 40m2 where a professional is required. In rural zones, there will be no restrictions in panel size if they can be installed without professional assistance.


You will now be able to build a carport up to 40m2. It must be carried out or reviewed by a CPE or carried out and supervised by an LBP.


Ground-level awnings can be built on up to 30m2, provided the design has been carried out or reviewed by a CPE or supervised and constructed by an LBP.

Verandas and porches

The new exemptions allow you to build a ground-floor veranda or porch up to 30m2. However, construction must be carried out, reviewed or supervised by a CPE or LBP professional.

Outdoor fireplaces or ovens

You won’t need consent for an outdoor fireplace or oven built up to 2.5m with a max cooking surface of 1m2. It must be installed at least 1m away from any legal boundary or building.

Flexible water storage bladders

With the new exemptions, you no longer need consent for flexible water storage bladders used for irrigation or firefighting. This covers bladders up to 200,000L in storage capacity.

Small pipe-supporting structures

Small pipe supporting structures can be built without consent as long as they only carry water and are installed on privately owned land.

Short-span (small) bridges

To build a short-span bridge without consent, it mustn’t be accessible to the general public and can’t span a road or rail area. The design will need to be carried out or reviewed by a CPE.

Single-storey pole sheds and hay barns

You can now build a single-storey pole shed or hay barn in rural zones with a maximum floor area of 110m2 without a consent. The design must also be carried out, reviewed or supervised by a CPE or LBP.

Overall, this is great news for tradies. Building consents will no longer be required for various new or expanded types of low-risk building work. In addition, common, low-risk building work won’t have to get council approval, which will save time and money.