Information about building consent requirements to convert a residential garage or building into a habitable space (sleepout, over 10 sqm), and use of caravans or campervans for accommodation.

Getting a building consent before converting a building into alternative accommodation

If building alterations are to be carried out as part of the conversion a building consent may be required (please refer to accessory buildings section). Accessory buildings of less than 10 sqm are excluded from building consent. This exemption includes garden sheds, cabins and/or sleepouts, associated with a dwelling. For more information, please refer to MBIE guidance on building work that is automatically exempt(external link).

It would be sensible to ensure that the building is dry, has ventilation and adequate insulation. If such (building) work is proposed a consent may be required, depending on what is proposed. Part of this consent would include the requirement to fit smoke alarms in both the new sleepout and in the house.

Further information is available on our exemptions from building consent webpage.

A resource consent may be required if there are any non-compliances with the District Plan, such as loss of car parking or outdoor living spaces, or setbacks from boundaries. We recommend that you contact the Duty Planner on 03 941 8999 to check this.

Subject to obtaining a building consent, a toilet or bathroom may be installed in a sleepout but a kitchen may not.

Using an on-site caravan or campervan for accommodation

There are many issues relating to this activity. The Building Act 2004, District Plan requirements and the Christchurch City Bylaws may apply.

If the caravan or campervan is deemed to have become a building under the definition in the Building Act, a building consent will be necessary. Please refer to the definition of a building under section 8 and 9 of the Building Act. A resource consent may also be required if it is being used as a self-contained residential unit, or it does not meet building setbacks, recession planes and building coverage rules in the District Plan.

If you plan to use a caravan for accommodation, please speak to the Duty Planner on 03 941 8999 in the first instance. You will also need to discuss your proposal with the Duty Building Consent Officer.