An outline of situations and conditions where and why a certificate of acceptance is applicable.

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 consent (but a consent should have been obtained); or
  • Where 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 work that does not comply or where there is not enough evidence that it complies.

Should I apply for a certificate of acceptance?

You should apply for a certificate of acceptance if the work meets the requirements above, and you have evidence that the 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 a building consent, or apply for a certificate of acceptance,

  • If you are uncertain whether the 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.
  • If you know the work does not comply with the building code then you would usually need to apply for a 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 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 work complies and some does not. The certificate of acceptance will be for the compliant work, and the building consent for the rectification work.
  • You have started work, and the work already done complies with the code. You will need the building consent to complete the work. No further work may proceed until the building consent is issued.

What is urgent or emergency building work?

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

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.

I didn't ask the Council for inspections for my consented work and now my code compliance certificate has been refused. Can I get a certificate of acceptance instead?

No, 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 work complies, even though the Council has not seen it.