Altering, changing the use of, or extending the life of a building

Find out more about altering, changing the use of, or extending the life of a building.


Altering a building

If you're making alterations to an existing building, section 112 of the Building Act 2004 has to be considered.

Section 112 (1) of the Act requires Council, as the Building Consent Authority, to be satisfied that, after the alterations, the building will comply, as nearly as is reasonably practicable, with the current provisions of the Building Code that relate to:

  • means of escape from fire
  • access and facilities for persons with disabilities (if this is a requirement in terms of section 118)

Council also needs to be satisfied that the building continues to comply.

To be satisfied that consideration of Section 112 has been undertaken, Council will assess the extent to which the proposed building work will be effective to bring the building to the relevant Building Code standards. As part of the building consent application, building owners will need to provide an evaluation of:

  • what should be in the building to satisfy section 112 as if this building was new
  • what is currently in the building
  • what is proposed to bring this building toward the standard required by section 112.

The evaluation should also detail the benefits and sacrifices required so Council can consider what is ‘reasonably practicable’.


Changing the use of a building

If you're planning to change the use of a building, you must give us written notice before you do so. Once we have received your written notice, we will assess compliance with Building Act 2004 requirements. This notice is usually in the form of an application for building consent to undertake the required building work.

Section 115 of the Building Act 2004 will apply. This section ensures that, when changing the use of a building, the current building stock is being upgraded toward the current provisions of the Building Code, specifically relating to:

  • means of escape from fire, along with protection of other property, sanitary facilities, structural performance, and fire-rating performance
  • facilities for persons with disabilities (if this is a requirement in terms of section 118)

In the same way, Council will need to assess the extent to which the proposed upgrade will be effective to bring the building to the relevant Building Code standards. As part of the application for a building consent, building owners will need to provide an evaluation of:

  • what should be in the building to satisfy section 112 as if this building was new
  • what is currently in the building
  • what is proposed to bring this building toward the standard required by items 1 and 2 above.

The evaluation should also detail the benefits and sacrifices required so Council can consider what is ‘reasonably practicable’.


Extending the life of your building

If you are proposing to alter a building with a specified intended life, you may need to apply for a n extension of life to proceed with the work (section 116 of the Building Act 2004).

What is 'specified intended life' of a building?

This is the period of time, as stated in your building consent or building consent application, for which the building will be used for its primary purpose (section 113 of the Building Act 2004).

This condition is commonly applied to building consents for:

  • portacoms
  • construction site offices.

Normally all building consents will have an indefinite life exceeding 50 years.

If the specified intended life condition is applied to your building consent or building consent application, it will be for a period less than 50 years.

If you propose that your new building, or existing building you want to alter, is to have a life of less than 50 years:

  • the building consent issued will be subject to this condition
  • the building work must be completed on or before the end of the specified period.

A specified intended life applies to the whole building, not a building element (such as a solid fuel burner) or a building system (such as a cladding system).

When we assess your application, we will decide if it is applicable to grant the building consent with a specified intended life subject to the conditions required by section 113 of the Building Act 2004.

The standard condition will state that the building must be altered, removed or demolished on or before the end of the specified intended life. Council will also add to the condition that, should an application to alter the building to extend its life be made under section 116, the durability of the building must be shown to be of a standard appropriate to the extension of life requested.

If you want to extend the life of your building that has a specified intended life, section 114 of the Building Act 2004 requires that you must give written notice to Council. For Council to be able to give written consent it will require a building consent application to assess the building has been altered as per section 116 of the Building Act 2004.

As the building owner, you must give us written notice if you want to extend the life of your building.

You will need to state why you want an extension and how long the extension should be.

The building will also need to be re-inspected to ensure that it complies with section 112 of the Building Act.

We can grant an 'extension of life' at your request, if we are satisfied that the building can perform satisfactorily for a further specified time.


Building code requirements for subdivisions

When a proposed cross lease, company lease or unit title subdivision affects an existing building or part of an existing building, you must give us written notice about the proposed subdivision. Once we have received the written notice, we will assess whether the existing building or part of an existing building:

  • will comply as near as reasonably practical with every provision of the building code that relates to means of escape from fire, access and facilities for persons with disabilities (if this is a requirement under s118 of the Building Act 2004) and protection of other property
  • will continue to comply to at least the same extent as before the application for a subdivision was made with the other provisions of the building code.

This ensures that these developments meet minimum Building Code compliance levels under section 116A of the Building Act 2004 and the Building Code.   The applicant for the subdivision needs to provide sufficient information as part of their application to show how these requirements will be achieved.


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