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Building in Northland

Special considerations when building in Whangarei District

Homeworld consults with only the top professionals in the building industry. Here Phillip Lash, Director at Reyburn and Bryant Surveyers provides some excellent advice to consider when building in Whangarei district.


“Building a new home can be fraught with bureaucratic processes that can challenge even the most seasoned professional. However, being armed with some knowledge about the processes, and understanding the reasons for rules and regulations can make the process a lot smoother and less stressful, not to mention less expensive.


Building consents are always a necessity when building a new home. This process is administered by the Council and is put in place by legislation to ensure that buildings are constructed safely, and are suitable to be lived in.


In addition to building consents, the Council also has a set of rules that control a variety of matters including the height of a building, how close it can be to a property boundary, and how many car parks are provided on the property. These rules are contained in the District Plan and are designed to ensure that an activity on one property does not adversely and unreasonably affect the owners and occupiers of other properties.


The District Plan rules relate to specific ‘Environments’ or zones. For example, residential areas have a ‘Living Environment’ zone with associated rules, while the rural areas have a ‘Countryside Environment’ zone with associated rules. The zoning of your property is the starting point for determining what rules will apply to your property.


Once you have established the zoning of your property and what rules apply, the design of your new home can take these provisions into account so that compliance with the District Plan is achieved.


Sometimes compliance with the appropriate rules is not desirable or practical. If a design does not comply with all of the relevant rules for the zone a resource consent needs to be sought from the Council. In most cases resource consent applications to vary from the District Plan rules are approved, although almost always subject to specific conditions of consent. The more professional and well thought out the application, the more chance it has of being approved.


The following includes some common reasons why resource consent is necessary in the Whangarei District as well as some tips to make the process run as smoothly as possible:


All houses proposed in the Coastal Countryside Environment require resource consent, and a landscape assessment will on most occasions be necessary to support the application. Conditions of consent such as a requirement for landscape planting and/or colour restrictions should be expected.

  • For infringements such as a proposal to build a house closer than permitted to the boundary, obtaining a written approval from the adjoining neighbour will greatly assist you in obtaining consent for your proposal.

  • If your property obtains access to a State Highway, consultation with the NZTA is recommended and often compulsory depending on the particular status of the highway.

  • Swimming pools are considered to be a building if they are larger than 35,000 litres, and are therefore subject to the rules in the District Plan that relate to buildings.

  • Retaining walls that are 2 metres or higher are considered to be a building and are also subject to the relevant building rules. The boundary setback rules are often the most relevant where walls are concerned.

  • Generally only one ‘residential unit’ is permitted on a property, so if your proposal involves a self contained sleep out or independent accommodation for elderly parents or teenagers, it is recommended that you seek advice to ascertain whether your proposal meets the relevant rules of the Plan.


If you are unsure whether your proposal achieves compliance with the District Plan a duty planner is available to talk to you at the Council, or the planners at Reyburn and Bryant are also happy to consider your proposal and discuss the options that are available to you. For more information visit the Reyburn and Bryant website.




There may be slight variations to these outlined above if you are building within the Far North, Kaipara or Rodney Districts. Homeworld’s Home Consultants will help you with any relevant information needed from those councils.


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