Understanding the Difference between Building and Resource Consents

One of the most complex parts of completing a house extension or custom new build in Auckland is navigating the minefield of dealing with the council and working out what is and is not required for your home. 

This is especially true if you have limited construction experience and are trying to manage your project independently, as opposed to using a one stop building company like ourselves who will guide you through the process.

Typically, one of the first challenges is working out whether your home extension or new build will require building consent, resource consent or both. Whats the difference?, we hear you ask & 187 projects worth of expertise with dealing with the council means we have the answer in this blog post!

In simple terms building consent essentially means that the Auckland Council has approved the home extension or new build that you are proposing as being one that complies with the New Zealand Building Code. The purpose of the architectural drawings and specifications which are provided as part of the process is to illustrate to council exactly how the construction of your project will comply. For more about how Certified Home Extensions can help you with this process, check out our blog post on whether you need building consent here.
Our client development manager Emily is dedicated to your project in the pre-construction stages, making sure that the various personnel required are coordinated, communicating and producing consistent, clear documentation that will mean you can get council consent for your project as soon as possible

The type of consent that the average New Zealander knows a lot less about is Resource Consent, and often you need an experienced professional who has dealt with many construction projects (like ourselves) to establish definitively whether or not it will be required for your home extension or new build. Obtaining Resource Consent from the council means that we have their permission for how we want to use your land. It is not required for every home extension or architectural new build, only in a few instances and we have illustrated what some of the common ones are below.

The first instance where Resource Consent might be required for your home extension or architectural new build is if the scope of your project involves a height in relation to boundary infringement. This is a common reality of adding a second or third level to your home, especially if you are in an area where the majority of the houses were built before 1980, as back in the day, they didn’t believe in building to great heights.

Getting Resource Consent for a height in relation to boundary infringement is reasonably easy, as long as your neighbours are prepared to sign your plans, confirming they are happy for your home extension or new build to be constructed. After that, all that is required is an assessment of environmental effects from a town planner & then (hopefully) you’ll be able to proceed! (TOP TIP; In our experience your neighbours are far more amenable to discussing a project like a second level extension, if the conversation begins with a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine). 

Resource consent is often required with the addition of a second level, like the home extension project we completed in Westmere above. This is because their height often exceeds standard regulations, meaning we need to get the permission of your neighbour and the council before we can move forward with construction. Nobody wants an eleven storey sky scraper next door after all!

Resource consent is also required if there is a particularly bad overland flow path running through your section/street and/or if your property is located in a flood plain zone. Having an overland flow path running through your section means that at some point, council have identified that a body of water follows a route through your section and/or down your street when there is a significant amount of rainfall. Being located in a flood plain zone means that if there is a significant amount of rainfall, then there is a very strong likelihood that your section and possibly your home will be flooded.

The first step (if we have identified your home extension or architectural new build as being located on a site that has an overland flow path running through it and/or is located in a flood plain zone), is for a surveyor to come and do a full topographical site plan of your home. This gives the stormwater engineer, who will usually be the next point of contact, the relevant information that he or she needs to determine what level your custom new build or home extension needs to be built at, so that flooding is not a concern. Once this work has been completed, they will then compile documentation for the council illustrating what steps will be taken with the construction of your home extension or architectural new build to negate the risk of flooding and prevent the existing stormwater system in your area from being overloaded. Provided your stormwater engineer knows what he or she is talking about, you then shouldn’t have a problem obtaining Resource Consent for challenges like overland flow paths or flood plain zones.

The above screenshot taken from the Auckland Council Geomaps site illustrates what a site in a flood plain zone (blue boxes) with an overland flow path looks like (blue path/line). If owners in this neighbourhood wanted to complete a house extension or architectural new build, it is extremely likely that Resource Consent would be required.

Finally, the last instance where Resource Consent will commonly be required for a home extension or architectural new build is if your section is located in a heritage zone. You need Resource Consent because being in a heritage zone means that your home is located in an area with older homes which council have identified as places which have historical value. So it is important to them that the heritage aesthetic of these houses is maintained. The purpose of the Resource Consent is to show how the proposed works will add to, as opposed to detracting from the character of your existing home. This typically means that you need council permission for any changes to the external facade of your home, from a new paint scheme to the addition of a second level and/or pulling down the existing home and building a new villa or bungalow in its place.

Getting Resource Consent for a heritage zoned property can be a complicated process. The first step is for an architect to prepare concept plans which detail the heritage aspect(s) of your proposed home extension or architectural new build. Once these have been completed, a pre-application meeting then needs to be held with the heritage planners at council. During this meeting your architect will talk through the proposed extension or architectural new build, clearly explaining how the historical value of the building has been maintained. The heritage planner will then make comments and raise concerns and/or queries. If there are changes required, the concept plans will have to be amended and another pre-application meeting but if the heritage planner has indicated they are happy with the proposed extension or new build, a heritage planner will then write a report detailing exactly how the project compiles and you will be able to apply for Resource Consent. The silver lining with this process is that typically, once you have had a successful pre application meeting, getting Resource Consent is usually easy, as once council planners have it writing that a colleague of theirs has confirmed that the extension or new build is okay to process, other planners have limited cause for objection. ​

Older villas and bungalows like the one above will always require Resource Consent for any changes, whether it be a home extension, house renovation or custom new build. The home above, enjoyed a stress-free, straightforward Resource Consents process thanks to the efforts of our draftsperson Dave

To make a long story short, getting Resource Consent is challenging and requires coordination between many different parties, from engineers to council personnel to planners to surveyors. It is almost impossible to have a straightforward, stress-free experience when you are depending solely on an independent architect or architectural designer who is also dealing with fifteen other projects, all of which require time and attention. Having a team like ourselves onboard means you have people that can be dedicated to pushing your project through, while holding relevant parties accountable every step of the way, We’ll also act as your translators, which is exceptionally useful as engineers and surveyors in particular can speak a different  language, which is impossible to decipher without several ibuprofen and a university degree in the relevant field,

To find out if your project requires Resource Consent, then give Certified Home Extensions a call or drop us an email at emily@certifiedhomeextensions.co.nz. We’ll make sure you have an experience that will leave you smiling, instead of stressed out and snarling. ​

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