Change of use of existing buildings

When the use of a building changes, section 115 of the Building Act 2004 has to be considered.

To determine if the building is a change of use, see sections 5, 6 and schedule 2 of Building Regulations 2005 (Specified Systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings). If part of the building changes use then the building needs to be considered under section 115. Section 115 is in the Building Act to ensure the current building stock is being upgraded toward the current provisions of the building code.

You cannot make the proposed change until the council gives the owner written confirmation that the requirements of the Building Act have been complied with.

The requirements will vary, depending on whether the change of use means that household units will be incorporated in the building. If this is the case, the council will need to be satisfied that the building in its new use will comply with the Building Code as near as reasonably practicable (also known as ANARP). If this is not the case, the building will have to comply with Building Code requirements around access and escape for fire. Often a building consent will be required. 

If you make the change without advising the council you could be fined.


We would recommend early in the design process that an appointment is made with a Council Senior Building Officer to discuss any concerns in relation to evaluating section 115 issues. Meetings must be booked at least two working days before they are required.

Please phone 03 546 0200 for an appointment.

Other resources

Subdivision affecting a building

Change of use, alterations and extension of life (MBIE website)

Defining 'as nearly as is reasonable practicable' (MBIE website)

Change of use and fire safety requirements (MBIE website)