In certain situations, Council can inspect unconsented building work or work undertaken urgently, and issue a Certificate of Acceptance (COA) if it is satisfied that the work complies with the New Zealand Building Regulations 1992 (Building Code).
A COA provides limited assurance and is not the same as a Code Compliance Certificate. Please read all the information below to check if a COA is the right solution for you.
Before you begin
You can work out whether building permits or building consents have been granted for buildings on a property by applying for a Property File or Land Information Memorandum (LIM).
Before submitting your COA application, you must complete a Pre-application Meeting.
When to apply
You can apply for a COA when:
- building work has been done without applying for a Building consent
- a building consent has been issued but changes to the consent were made without advising Council, and the work has been completed without any inspections or verification.
Building work completed under urgency requires written permission from Council for the applicant to proceed.
If the building work has already commenced without a building consent and is partially complete, talk to Council to find a pathway forward.
You must apply for a COA when:
- work has been done urgently to protect life or health or prevent serious damage to property (under section 42 of the Building Act 2004), and it is not practical to apply for a building consent in advance.
A COA cannot be issued when:
- work has been carried out before 1 July 1992; or
- a building consent has already been given for the work (except when a certifier or private building consent authority will not/cannot issue a Code Compliance Certificate).
- unauthorised work was undertaken before the inception of the Building Act 1991.
You can apply for a COA for all or part of a building.
Unauthorised building work
If your building work requires a building consent, you must obtain this building consent before you begin the work (except as required under urgency).
Failing to obtain a building consent is an offence and Council may take enforcement action against you. If a COA is issued for the unconsented building work, Council can still take further enforcement action and the COA may become evidence to support Council’s case.
If the work being undertaken is urgent, it is the owner's responsibility to ensure it meets the Building Code and is supervised by suitably qualified persons.
Submit your application
To apply for a Certificate of Acceptance:
Manage required documents
You need to provide all the documentation required for a building consent application, plus the following additional information:
- Proof of construction compliance
- Supporting evidence if the work is closed-in and unable to be inspected. This could include (but is not limited to):
- relevant certification
- architectural drawings
- PS1 & PS4 from supervising engineers (if applicable)
- expert opinion reports – e.g. Building Surveyor’s report, Fire Reports and reports from suitably qualified professionals
- Statement of urgency – a letter providing the reason why the work is being done under urgency (see section 42 of the Building Act 2004, if applicable)
- Declaration of who completed the work
Process your application
Council will assess the building work, plans and specifications provided against the Building Code. It will then consider any evidence provided that supports the application. Usually it will also need to undertake an inspection.
How long does it take?
If all the required information is provided and there are no requests for further detail, then the application will take 20 working days to process. If further information is required, then the clock stops until all the information is received.
If development contributions are required, Council may not issue a COA until payment is made and any other Council fees and costs are received.
How long is my application valid?
Your COA application will remain open for 60 working days from:
- The date of your pre-application meeting; or
- The date a Request for Further Information (RFI) is issued.
At this point, you will be notified if the application has been rejected. If you still wish to proceed, you will need to re-apply.
Issuing a Certificate of Acceptance
Council will issue a COA when it is has inspected or assessed the building work and is satisfied that it complies with the Building Code. (See section 17 of the Building Act for further explanation.)
If Council has not been able to assess and approve a building consent application, this may be because it could not inspect the work during construction to ensure it meets the Building Code. In this case, Council may not be able to ensure compliance.
As Council will have had no involvement in the work to date, the applicant is responsible for providing evidence to show that the work complies with section 17 of the Building Code. This is particularly important for those parts of the building work that Council cannot inspect, such as foundations.
The COA will include a list of the building work that Council has inspected and confirmed compliance for. Any building works that cannot be verified will also be listed and excluded on the COA.
As the result of a COA, Council may issue a Notice to Fix, or you may need to remove building work that does not comply with the Building Code. You may also need to get a building consent to carry out further work, to ensure that the building complies with the Building Code.
Refusing a Certificate of Acceptance
If your COA application doesn’t provide enough information or does not show compliance with the Building Code, Council may refuse to issue a COA.
You may also need to remove the building work if it is deemed dangerous or insanitary (under section 124 of the Building Act) or if approval under the Resource Management Act 1991 is not obtained.
If Council refuses to grant you a COA, you will receive written notice of this and details on the reasons for the refusal.
Third party reports
COAs cannot be issued for building work carried out prior to 1 July 1992 (before the Building Act) as this work was subject to the Building Bylaws and the Building Permit system.
It is not necessary to do anything about this work, but if you would like a record of the work undertaken recorded on your property file you may choose to get a third party report.
Before submitting your COA application, you will need to attend a pre-application meeting. This is to ensure that you have all the information you need to take your application forward. The meeting is not a guarantee that your application will be successful.
Is there a cost involved?
Yes, fees for pre-application meetings are set according to the Council’s fees and charges.
Anyone involved in the design or construction of the building can attend a pre-application meeting. This includes the owner, agent, architect, property developer, engineer, site manager or builder. The owner may choose to delegate a professional to attend on their behalf.
A building officer will meet with you to discuss your application.
It is your responsibility to get professional planning and legal advice when making your application.
To the extent legally possible, the Council expressly disclaims any liability (under any theory of law including negligence) in relation to the pre-application process.
Last Reviewed: 01/08/2017