Processing building consents

The Council has 20 working days (10 working days for National Multiple-Use Approvals applications) from the date the application is formally received for processing, to decide whether to grant, or refuse to grant, the building consent. (Note: when “formally received”, the processing clock starts).

Once the application has been checked for completeness, a Building Officer will assess your application to ensure the plans and specifications comply with the minimum requirements of the building code - this is called processing the application.

Note: your application will be checked by a number of areas in the Council depending on the nature of the work. The various areas that can be involved include:

  • Building (including plumbing and drainage)
  • Compliance with the Nelson Resource Management Plan (NRMP)
  • Planning check
  • Hazardous materials; health
  • Trade waste
  • Engineering services
  • Geotechnical and external specialists, engineers, acoustic and mechanical services engineers

Requests for further information

If there are any questions or concerns regarding compliance with the Building Act or building code, you will receive notification by email requesting further information or clarification. The 20-day clock is suspended until this information is provided.

Granting and issuing the consent

The building consent authority will grant a building consent once it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the provisions of the building code will be met if the building work is properly completed in accordance with the approved plans and specifications.

The building consent authority is not required to grant or issue the consent until any fees or charges for the consent, and the building levy are both paid.

If the building consent is refused, the building consent authority must write to the applicant and state the reasons. This must be done within the 20 working day time frame.

The documentation will contain a list of inspections required to be undertaken by Council staff during the construction process.  If specialist inspections are required, these will be agreed to between Council and the applicant during the consent process. Specialist inspections (typically engineering disciplines), will generally mean that a producer statement  and inspection records will be required from the specialist.

Building work must not begin until a building consent has been granted and issued.

Building consent conditions

Conditions may be imposed on the building consent to ensure compliance with the Building Act. It is very important that you (and your contractors) read the building consent documentation to ensure you are clear about these requirements.


All building consents are subject to section 90 of the Building Act 2004 regarding inspection by authorised agents of the Building Consent Authority.

Waivers or modifications

Under section 67 of the Building Act 2004, Council may grant a building consent subject to a waiver or modification of the building code (excluding access and facilities for people with disabilities).

Natural hazards

Conditions may be placed on a building consent under section 72 of the Building Act 2004 relating to building on land subject to natural hazards. 

Building on 2 or more allotments

Construction of a building on land over 2 or more allotments (section 75): the specified allotments must not be transferred or leased except in conjunction with those other allotments.

Specified intended life

If a consent is granted with a specified intended life of less than 50 years under section 113, the consent will specify certain conditions that must be complied with at the end of the specified life (e.g. alteration, demolition or removal).  The owner of a building with a specified intended life must not extend its life without the written consent of Nelson City Council.

Restrictions on starting work

Applicants must check that there are no resource management issues outstanding. In some circumstances a building consent may be issued with a “Section 37” certificate attached. This certificate prohibits work commencing until resource management issues have been resolved. The reasons for any restrictions will be identified on the attached certificate.

How long is a building consent valid?

Work must start on your project within 12 months of the date the building consent was issued. If we have not been contacted to undertake any inspections before then, we will send you a letter advising you that the building consent will lapse at the expiry of the 12-month period. You may decide not do the work, in which case the consent will lapse, or you may apply for an extension of time to start the work. Extensions of time are considered on a case-by-case basis. Requests for an extension of time must be made on the appropriate form and be received before the expiry date.

If we do not hear from you within the stated time the consent will lapse and have no effect.


Note that Council processes building consents electronically.  Your issued building consent will be provided to you electronically.  If you would prefer to receive your consented documents on paper, please advise Council when submitting your application (note that there will be additional costs incurred for printing).

Consented documents must be printed and available on-site at all times during construction.


The total cost depends on the type of application, cost of work involved, and the level of detail provided. The quality of information provided at the time of application will also affect the overall fees. See building consent fees and charges for more information.

Next step

Building consent inspections and certification