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Unconsented Work

To Retrospective Building Consents will not be issued and a Certificate of Acceptance will only be issued in accordance with the Building Act 2004.

Certificate of Acceptance (CoA) Guidance

Legislative requirements

Section 40 of the Building Act 2004 states that buildings must not be constructed, altered, partly demolished or removed without a Building Consent, unless such work is exempted under the Act; a person commits an offence if they fail to comply with this section of the Act.
Section 96 states that Council may, on application, issue a Certificate of Acceptance for work already done, however this does not limit the requirements of section 40 and accordingly does not relieve a person from the requirement to obtain a Building Consent for building work.
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance information on how building work that has been completed without a Building Consent may be redressed. One option of redressing such works is through the Certificate of Acceptance process.

Certificates of Acceptance

A Certificate of Acceptance has similarities to a Code Compliance Certificate in that it will provide some verification for a building owner that certain or all building work carried out complies with the Building Code.
The application will be assessed against the Building Code that is in place at the time an application is made, not when the work was actually carried out. The information that must be supplied with the application needs to be treated as if it were a new Building Consent application (i.e. the same level of detail).

Before accepting an application, Council:

  • requires comprehensive information including plans, specifications and technical product information.
  • a deposit.

The Council:

  • has 20 working days to issue or refuse to issue a Certificate of Acceptance.
  • may make prosecutions depending on the circumstances of the application.

Where the Council refuses to issue the Certificate of Acceptance, you will be notified in writing. Regardless
of the outcome any costs incurred by Council will be recovered.

A Certificate of Acceptance cannot be issued in the following circumstances:

  • for building work affecting public use premises where the work was carried out after 31st March 2005.
  • for building work carried out before 1st July 1992.
  • work for which a Building Consent has been granted and has been inspected by Council.

Why would I want a Certificate of Acceptance?

Where work has been undertaken on a property without a Building Consent it may be difficult to sell the property or obtain insurance. A Certificate of Acceptance may resolve these concerns as it provides a level of surety about compliance with the Building Code.

The situations under which a Certificate of Acceptance can be sought are limited to the following:

  • If you or the previous owner carried out work for which a Building Consent was required but not obtained, or
  • An application was initiated but not completed by a Building Certifier, or
  • Urgent work is required and there is no time to obtain a Building Consent (you must gain Council approval

Where do I start?

Unauthorised building work
Where work has been carried out without Building Consent a project information memorandum must accompany all applications.

Work carried out by a Building Certifier
Where the project has been inspected by a Building Certifier, provide copies of all inspection records along with any correspondence provided by the certifier, which will assist Council with the assessment process. In addition, provide a schedule identifying what work was outstanding at the time the certifier ceased to exist and the dates that this work was completed.

Work carried out under urgency
Urgent work may only be carried out with the prior approval of Council; if no approval has been obtained refer to the section above on unauthorised work.

What do I do next?

Gather as much information as you can about construction, for example:

  • • Identify who constructed the work (builders, plumbers, electricians, etc) and provide written statements
    outlining the work undertaken (if possible).
  • provide a written description / schedule of the work that was done.
  • identify when the work was undertaken.
  • provide any receipts for purchase of materials. (timber or concrete delivery dockets or invoices, etc).
  • provide an engineer's report for any structural aspects of construction accompanied by producer statements for the design and completed construction, which must be issued by a chartered professional engineer.
  • provide photographs during construction (if available).
  • provide photographs of the completed work.
  • provide either:
    o a certificate of title (no older than three months).
    o a lease agreement, or
    o an agreement for sale and purchase.
  • provide a written explanation as to why a Building Consent was not obtained i.e.:
    o the work was carried out by the owner, or the owners predecessor in title and they did not obtain a Building Consent, or
    o the work was carried out under urgency for the purposes of saving or protecting life or health and or preventing serious damage to the property.

Deposit Payble

Please contact customer. services to check the fee payable at time of lodgement. All applications must be accompanied by a deposit.
The 20 day clock will start once your application has been accepted for processing by a vetting officer. Council has 20 working days to grant or refuse a Certificate of Acceptance. Note, however, that further information may be requested during processing and if requests are made, the clock is stopped until such time as the information is received.
Refer to the Fees and Charges


Over and above the deposit the following fees are payable, these include but are not limited to:

  • Specialist assessment (engineering, etc).
  • Scanning / records.
  • Administration.
  • Department of Building and Housing and BRANZ levies (N/A in an application processed by a Building Certifier, as these will already have been paid).
  • Inspections.
  • Planning check
  • Issue of Certificate of Acceptance, etc.

    The issue of a Certificate of Acceptance does not negate the possibility that Council may take enforcement action where there is a breach of the Building Act. Enforcement action is considered on a case by case basis.

    Inspection of building work

    It may be necessary for Council officers to undertake a check on the building to confirm the as-built work is in accordance with the plans submitted. During this check the building officer may ask for items to be uncovered to check aspects of construction.
    This inspection is undertaken during processing of the application and may result in further work being required if non-compliance with the Building Code is identified.
    If further work is required a Building Consent application could be required (this will depend upon the nature of the work involved). For example, if work is of a minor nature such as replacing galvanised bolts with stainless steel bolts then a site instruction notice will be issued; if however a barrier on a deck does not comply this may be redressed through a Building Consent application. If compliance cannot be established a notice to fix will be issued.

    Issue of the Certificate of Acceptance

    Council may issue a Certificate of Acceptance only if it is satisfied to the best of its knowledge and belief and on reasonable grounds, that, insofar as it could ascertain, the building work complies with the Building Code.
    The Certificate of Acceptance may be qualified to the effect that only parts of the building work were able to be inspected. Council's liability for the issue of a Certificate of Acceptance is limited to the same extent that the Council was able to inspect the building work in question, i.e. that which can be seen.
    If Council decides to refuse to issue the Certificate of Acceptance, the applicant will be formally notified in writing setting out the reasons for refusal. If compliance cannot be established a notice to fix will be issued.
    Once you receive your Certificate of Acceptance you should keep it in a safe place for future reference.

    Notices to fix and infringement notices

    A notice to fix is a formal notice issued by Council advising that certain works have not been carried out in accordance with the Building Code. If a notice to fix is issued you must address the issues identified within the prescribed timeframe to prevent further action being taken. If a notice to fix is issued, documentation
    identifying the process will accompany the notice, explaining the process.
    If you do not understand the notice to fix, it is important that you let us know so that we can discuss and explain the issues with you. Council's preference is to work with people to seek resolution. Although the Building Act provides remedies for failing to meet the requirements of a notice to fix, Council views.
    prosecution as a last resort. Council will usually only seek prosecution where the breach detailed in the notice to fix is significant; threatens the lives of people or adjoining property; or the person who receives the notice is obstructive and unwilling to work with Council to resolve the outstanding issues.
    Council also has the option of issuing infringement notices to building owners who do not meet building, plumbing, drainage and fire safety requirements, as a means of increasing compliance with the Act. These provisions have been activated by the Building (Infringement Offences, Fees, and Forms) Regulations 2007 which came into effect on 1 July 2008. The Regulations are made under section 402 of the Building Act 2004.
    The offences cover 'initial' offences e.g. building without Building Consent; and subsequent offences e.g. failing to comply with a notice to fix.

    Check List - Fees

    1. Commission a full set of drawings and specifications (remember the plans must be drawn as if an application for Building Consent was being applied for today and include sufficient detail for a building officer to assess compliance). You can use the Building Consent application checklist to identify the type and level of information required for this.
    2. Collate all necessary plans, specifications, dockets, photos, contractor details, engineering reports and certificate of title; complete an application form.
    3. Write a letter setting out the reasons why you did not obtain a Building Consent for the works undertaken.
    4. Telephone Council and arrange a preliminary lodgement interview so that your application can be assessed prior to lodgement.
    5. Bring your documentation to pre-lodgement interview; note a deposit will be required if the application is accepted.