A certificate of acceptance may be issued by the Council detailing the level to which unconsented building work complies with the building code.

A certificate of acceptance provides building code certification on work we can inspect. It excludes work that cannot be inspected, so is not as comprehensive as a code compliance certificate.

A certificate of acceptance applies where:

  • work that requires a building consent was completed without one.
  • urgent work is carried out under section 42 of the Building Act.
  • another building consent authority or building certifier refuses to or cannot issue a code compliance certificate.

The Building Act 2004 introduced the ability for a Council to recognise and accept work that has been carried out without building consent, or where another building consent authority cannot issue a code compliance certificate (e.g. a former private building certifier).

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Building and Housing has produced guidance for building officials (external link)that indicates the requirements for applying for a certificate of acceptance and situations where one is needed.

What is a certificate of acceptance?

A certificate of acceptance is a document from the Council that states that it has reasonable grounds to believe that specified building work complies with the building code.

An application can be made if building work has taken place after 1 July 1992 and:

  • An owner or previous owner carried out or arranged building work without a building consent (but consent should have been obtained); or
  • Where building work has been carried out urgently in accordance with Section 42 of the Building Act 2004; or
  • In circumstances where a private building consent authority is unable or refuses to issue a code compliance certificate.

The certificate may be qualified to identify parts that could not be inspected by the Council, in which case the Council's liability is limited to the extent that it was able to inspect. It may also exclude building work that does not comply or where there is not enough evidence that it complies.

What will future purchasers know about the certificate of acceptance?

A land information memorandum will show the certificate of acceptance application and the decision made.

If a purchaser requests to see the property file, all documentation associated with the application will be made available.

You should apply for a certificate of acceptance if the building work meets the requirements above, and you have evidence that the building work complies with the building code.

If either of the situations below apply, please request a pre-application meeting before you carry out rectification work, apply for building consent, or apply for a certificate of acceptance if:

  • you are uncertain whether the building work complies with the building code even after obtaining expert advice and reports, then it may still be possible to apply for a certificate of acceptance. These applications would normally take longer to process, be more expensive, and with a higher possibility of being refused.
  • you know the building work does not comply with the building code then you would usually need to apply for building consent to rectify that work. In some situations, the rectification work may be exempt from building consent (see our guidance on exempt building work), however, you should be careful not to cover in building work that the Council will need to see before making a decision on compliance.

In some cases, it may be more practical and cost-effective to remove the work or building completely.

You will require both a building consent and a certificate of acceptance when:

  • Some of the building work complies and some does not. The certificate of acceptance will be for the compliant building work and the building consent for the rectification work.
  • You have started building work, and the building work already completed complies with the code. You will need building consent to complete the building work. No further building work may proceed until the building consent is issued.

Urgent or emergency building work

Before building work is considered to be urgent there must be such an imminent danger to life, health or property that it is impracticable to obtain a building consent in advance. This is a high threshold that very little earthquake repair work meets.

The building work that could be undertaken under this provision would only be the building work necessary to remove the immediate problem, and not the completion of other building work.

A further requirement for people undertaking urgent building work is for a certificate of acceptance application to be made as soon as practicable after completion of the urgent building work.

Can I get a certificate of acceptance for consented work?

If you did not ask the Council to inspect your consented work you can not get a certificate of acceptance instead. A certificate of acceptance cannot be issued where there was a valid building consent for the work.

To obtain a code compliance certificate you will need to obtain evidence that the building work complies with the building consent, even though the Council has not seen it.

To apply for a certificate of acceptance you will need the following:

  • A completed application for certificate of acceptance (Form B021) [PDF, 716 KB].
    (external link)
  • Plans and specifications that clearly show the building work that has been undertaken. This may include photographs.
  • Evidence that the building work complies with the building code as it stands at the time of application (which may differ from the time the building work was carried out). This is required to be in the form of a report that considers all of the building work undertaken and how it complies with relevant building code clauses. It is likely that you will need to engage the services of a suitably qualified and experienced person who understands the building code and the inspection of buildings (an example may be a member of the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, an architect, or in some cases an engineer).
  • Any other reports or statements from the people who carried out the building work.

How to submit your application:

Online: applying online will save you the cost of scanning fees, allow you to track your certificate of acceptance consent application and will reduce application processing time. Visit Online Services(external link) for further information.

Post: post your application to us at Compliance & Consenting Group, PO Box 73013, Christchurch 8154. 

Drop off: deliver your application to the Council office at 53 Hereford Street, Christchurch.

Certificates of acceptance are more complex and time-consuming than building consent and are usually significantly more expensive than the equivalent building consent.

On application you will need to pay:

  • The application deposit fee as set in our Building Consents Fee Schedule.
  • In addition to the deposit, if the application is made under Section 96(1) (a) of the Building Act 2004 the application must be accompanied by any fees, charges or levies that would have been payable had the owner, or the owner’s predecessor in title applied for a building consent before carrying out the building work. This includes any development contributions that may have been payable. These fees do not contribute towards any of the processing costs of the certificate of acceptance application.

Please note that the value of building work that is submitted will be assessed to determine if is reasonable, and may impact on the fees that are payable.

Once the application has been processed and the Council is ready to issue or refuse the application, all of the costs associated with the application will be calculated and it is likely that a further invoice will need to be paid before the decision is released.

An application that is comprehensive, concise and clear will be faster for the Council to process. That means it will be considerably less expensive.

Applying for and obtaining a certificate of acceptance does not relieve you from any other penalties or actions that may apply for carrying out building work without building consent.

When the application is submitted it is briefly checked to see that adequate information has been supplied so it can be processed.

Council officers, or in some cases external consultants on behalf of the Council, will then carry out a desktop assessment, followed by an inspection of the building work. We will consider all information that is available to us in order to decide whether we have reasonable grounds that the work complies with the building code.

A comprehensive report will then be written and a recommendation made.

At any stage during the process, there may be communication with you to request clarifications or further information. The Council has 20 working days to process your application but the statutory clock will be stopped until the Council receives all information requested.

The final decision will then be made on whether to issue or refuse to issue the certificate of acceptance, with the decision being released when all fees have been paid.

What will be on my certificate of acceptance?

Your certificate may include:

  • Acceptance from the Council that some or all of the building work complies with the building code;
  • Acceptance from the Council that some or all of the building work complies with the building code because we have reasonable grounds to believe this, but it may be qualified to say that we have not been able to inspect some or all of the building work.
  • Exclusion of items because there is not enough evidence to decide whether or not the building work complies, but that we consider the building is unlikely to be dangerous or insanitary.
  • Exclusion of items because we believe that some of the building work does not comply with the building code. The certificate of acceptance will be issued to include only the building work that we believe complies. We may also issue you with a notice to fix that will require you to rectify the non-compliant building work.

Can my application for a certificate of acceptance be refused?

Your application for a certificate of acceptance may be refused in the following circumstances:

  • If we believe that the building work does not comply with the building code, and the non-compliances are significant enough that it would be inappropriate to issue a certificate. A written notice will be given of the refusal and the reason for the refusal with a notice to fix that will require you to rectify the non-compliant building work.
  • If there is not enough evidence to determine that the building work complies with the building code. If there are concerns about whether the building is safe or sanitary, then there may be further action taken by the Council.

The Council takes a reasonable approach in assessing an application, considering any inspections done by the Council and all other relevant evidence, including its knowledge of all circumstances surrounding the building work and who undertook the building work.

What if I don't agree with the Council's decision?

If you do not agree with the Council decision then you can apply to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for a determination.

View further information on the determination process (external link)on the MBIE website.