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Building and alterations

Do you have plans to renovate your home, or build a house?

This is what you should know before you start.

When you first start to design your building project – you should talk to our staff.

Early advice can help you make informed decisions about your project and avoid unnecessary processing delays and unexpected costs.

Make an appointment with our building or planning staff and bring your plans along, even if they are only at the concept stage.

You should also talk to your neighbours and any other people who may be affected by your ideas and plans.

Here's a handy booklet

On-site wastewater assessment

If you're building or extending on a property that doesn't connect to the city’s or Te Karaka’s wastewater system, you need to install a septic tank system.
Also see pamphlet - Residential wastewater systems and septic systems
See list of approved assessors

Soil bearing-capacity test

Houses must be built on ground defined as ‘good ground’ (100kPa bearing strength). There's little ‘good ground’ in the Gisborne region and testing is required on most sites. Your building work must be designed to take your specific site into consideration.
Also see pamphlet - Bearing capacity and geotechnical investigation requirements.  Or talk to your designer or our staff.

Geotechnical report

This is needed if your property is on a hill slope or close to a stream. Whether you need a geotech report depends on other specific conditions. Our staff can help you or talk to your designer.
Also see pamphlet - Bearing capacity and geotechnical investigation requirements

If building in a flood zone

The building floor will need to be above the flood zone level, with an extra 300mm added to minimum floor levels.
Also see pamphlet - Building on a flood prone site. Or talk to us.

If you need help to complete the building consent application form, talk to our staff or ask your builder or designer to help you.

We offer a fast 5-working-day service to process low-risk consents.

The building work that qualifies for this is generally smaller and low risk such as minor internal alterations, minor plumbing and drainage, a carport or garage. You need to lodge your application with all the required information, documents and fee to qualify.

See more information on FTC and the types of consents that qualify for faster processing.

Our planning staff will check your building consent application to see if it meets the requirements set out in the Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan.

The plan has guides and rules about how you can use and develop your land in the Gisborne district.

Depending on your project, the location (zone) and what you want to do, you may also need to apply for resource consent.

Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) protects land and the environment.

Under the RMA Gisborne District Council has The Tairawhiti Resource Management Plan (TRMP).

The Plan outlines the requirements around the management of land, soil, air and water and how to manage the effects on the environment from subdivision and land use. It includes requirements around height, location and appearance of buildings and signs, noise, odour and glare associated with activities from and around buildings.

The Plan divides the district into zones such as rural, residential, industrial and commercial. Different zones have different requirements about what is a permitted activity.

Our planners will assess your building consent application. If their assessment finds your application doesn't meet the requirements in the Plan, you'll need to apply for resource consent.

The building and resource consent processes are separate but linked - both have 20 working day timeframes but may be completed on different dates.

The resource consent process has separate and additional fees. If resource consent is needed you cannot start any building work until the resource consent is approved.

You should apply for resource consent as soon as you can to avoid delays.

With your resource consent application you'll need to provide an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE).

This is to explain how your project will affect the environment.

If our planners have questions about your application, they'll send you a ‘request for further information’. This is called a Section 92 request, and it will delay the processing of your consent.

To avoid delays, talk to our planning staff about what you need to provide with your application.

Depending on the zone your property is in, these are some common examples of building projects that require resource consent:

  • additions, alterations or changing the use of a residential building
  • relocating a secondhand dwelling
  • any work on a heritage building
  • new signs and billboards
  • building a dwelling in a flood zone
  • exceeding 35% site coverage (see site coverage diagram, over)
  • a wastewater system below the site area size in The Tairawhiti Management Plan
  • erecting a building that is not a permitted activity for that zone
  • a non-residential activity in a residential zone
  • subdivision affecting a building or part of a building

Your project may require other council consents. Talk to our staff early in your project planning to find out what these may be.

Work in road reserve

You need approval to dig outside your property boundary on any Council land.

Work such as installing drains or a driveway will require a Corridor Access Request before you dig.

This will give you the location of underground services. Services such as power, gas, telephone, internet and street lights are underground. If you dig without a permit and cause damage the utility owner will charge you for any repairs.

Apply for a Corridor Access Request.

Depending on your business, you may need:

Registration of premise for health purposes – if your project is a food or hairdressing business, you'll need a Council licence

Alcohol licence – if you're selling or supplying alcohol as part of a business.

Trade waste consent – if you're processing food as a business, you'll need a grease trap, which requires a trade waste consent.

Development contributions

Development contributions are charged on a new development that creates growth leading to additional demand on Council infrastructure. It helps to pay for roads, water supply, wastewater and stormwater disposal and reserves and community facilities needed to meet the additional demand. This demand can come from a range of projects including residential, commercial or industrial development. A development contribution may apply to your project if you are:

  • subdividing land
  • building or relocating a dwelling onto vacant land subdivided after 2008
  • adding an additional household unit or flat
  • dividing one household unit into 2 or more household units
  • adding a new service connection to water, wastewater, trade waste or stormwater
  • changing the use of a building

We will assess your project to see if a development contribution is payable when you submit your building or subdivision application. We'll give you a calculated cost before your consent is issued. 
Examples of development contribution estimates:

  • a new dwelling in the city - about $10,000
  • a new dwelling in a non-serviced rural area - about $2,000
  • a minor dwelling under 60m2 – about $5,000

These costs are only estimates as the design of your building may attract a higher development contribution fee. Development contributions will be invoiced and are payable with either the resource consent, building consent or service connection.

Footpath deposit

Projects that require heavy vehicles on the site are charged a footpath/street damage bond.

If there is no damage at the final building inspection, the bond will be refunded less a small fee for processing.

Contaminated sites

A preliminary site investigation may be required for sites that are likely, or have been used for an activity that may have contaminated the soil.
This will need to be prepared by a suitably qualified and experienced practitioner.

This is a requirement under the National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health (NES).  Examples of when the NES may apply is if you're building a new dwelling on land that was previously an orchard or had a sheep dip on it.

For more information about NES visit Ministry for the Environment’s website

We have historic land use records for much of our district.

We can research this information for you for a fee. Talk to our duty planner to discuss whether or not you need to get a 'Search of Council Records' prior to lodging your building consent application.

See resource consent forms - Search of Council Records - under NES