I am concerned about divulging the unauthorised building work I have found. What are the ramifications?

  • There was a time when councils took a very dim view of people undertaking work without obtaining the necessary Building Consent and/or resource consents, however these days councils take a more pragmatic approach to this issue.

    Although it is unlawful to undertake building work without a Building Consent there is a process within the building act which allows the owner the opportunity to rectify the unauthorised work. In minor cases this could be supplying the correct documentation to council for a retrospective approval. Or in more serious cases could require remedial construction work or in extreme cases demolition. Call us to discuss and we can help you understand the process and your obligations.


  • If you are selling a building and you are aware of unauthorised building work we have been advised you have an obligation to divulge this information.


  • If you are purchasing a building it is very important to know if there is any unauthorised building work, because you, as the new legal owner, become responsible for that work.

What is a Notice to Fix?

This is a document issued by council that indicates they are aware of the unauthorised building work. It outlines instructions to the building owner on what action is required to remedy this breach of the building act. See here (hyperlink) to view an example of a notice to fix for a serious breach of the act.

Why do I need a Certificate of Acceptance?

Under the terms of the New Zealand Building Act 2004 councils cannot issue a Building Consent in retrospect. Therefore there is a clause within the act that states a building owner must apply for a Certificate of Acceptance if they have undertaken emergency work or unauthorised building work prior to obtaining a Building Consent.

Why do I need to apply for a Certificate of Acceptance and also a Building Consent?

The Certificate of Acceptance is an application to legalise unauthorised (or emergency) building work. If further remedial work is required to bring the construction up to building code standard, that remedial work requires a new Building Consent.

What charges apply for a Certificate of Acceptance from council?

Undertaking building work without a Building Consent can be costly! Councils charge a set of fees for a Certificate of Acceptance and an additional set of fees for any Building Consent required for remedial work. This means you could be paying two sets of fees because of the breach of the building act.