Minor Building Work and the NBR
Nov 252012

You Don’t Need Plans for Minor Building Work … But you DO Need Permission to Build

ToolShed 300x242 Minor Building Work

If this little 7.5 sq m garden building is to be used as a tool shed, you won’t need plans. If it is to be used as a child’s playhouse, you will.

Anything you build on your property needs plans, unless it is defined as “minor building work”. However the Act states very clearly in Part A: General Principles and Requirements (this was previously Part A: Administration), that any structural building work that is defined as “minor building work” requires authorization by your local authority’s building control officer before you can commence with any work. As long as you have made an application and have received the necessary permission from the local authority, you DO NOT NEED PLANS. But the law is also very clear in terms of compliance with the regulations; minor building work must comply with the regulations.


 Temporary Buildings

Temporary buildings also need authorization by the local authority. This includes builders’ sheds, on-site toilets, and any other structure you might want to erect (or be obliged to erect) for the construction project.

The local authority will not give you permission to erect a temporary building until you provide certain information, and they are able to assess it. At very least they need to know:

  1. what the intended use and life of the building will be
  2. the area in which it is to be erected (in other words where you are planning to put it)
  3. the availability of suitable materials from which it may be constructed

The Definition of “minor building work” in Terms of the Law

a) the erection of:

  1. poultry houses (hoender hokke or chicken coups) that are no more than ten square metres in size,
  2. aviaries that are no bigger than 20 square metres,
  3. solid fuel stores (for storing wood, coal, anthracite or similar) that are no more than ten square metres in area and no higher than two metres,
  4. tool sheds that are smaller than ten square metres,
  5. childrens’ playhouses that are no more than five square metres,
  6. cycle sheds no more than five square metres,
  7. greenhouses that are a maximum 15 square metres,
  8. open-sided car, caravan or boat shelters or carports that do not exceed 40 square metres in size,
  9. any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil,
  10. any pergola,
  11. private swimming pool (although most local authorities do insist on plans),
  12. change room at a private swimming pool not exceeding 10 sq m in area.

b) the replacement of a roof (or part of a roof) with the same or similar materials,

c) the conversion of a door into a window, or a window into a door, without increasing the width of the opening,

d) the making of an opening in a wall that doesn’t affect the structural safety of the building concerned,

e) the partitioning or enlarging of any room by the erection or demolition of an internal wall, as long as it doesn’t affect the structural safety of the building,

f) the section of any solar water heater not exceeding six square metres in area on any roof; or 12 square metres if the water heater is erected elsewhere,

g) the erection of any building that the local council doesn’t believe plans are necessary for.

In the last instance, it is up to the building control officer to make this decision.

How This Affects You

We have had numerous queries on this site in terms of when and where plans are required. As you will see, there are a few exceptions, but ultimately it is up to the local authority to decide whether or not you need plans.

It also stands to reason that the structures defined as minor building work will all need to be fit for purpose. So you can’t say you are building an aviary (which can be 20 square metres in area), and then build a brick building with windows, suitable for human habitation!


  142 Responses to “Minor Building Work”

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  1. im busy moving into my new home,but there is half build wall on the left handside of the house thats busy falling apart i would just like to know what i can do or who i can report it to .If asked the nabour cant we fix the wall cause i have kids that will be playing in the yard andim afraid the wall mite fall on one of them.Can i build my own wall and do i need a plan advise me please

    • If you are renting, report it to the landlord. If you have bought the property you need to sort it out with your neighbour. Ascertain whether it is a common wall (i.e. owned by both parties) or whether it is your neighbour’s wall. You can build a wall on your side – as long as it is below 1.8 m you don’t need plans but in terms of the minor building reg you do need to notify the council of your intention to do this. The problem is that if the existing wall collapses, it might damage your new wall.

  2. Subject:
    closing of attached carport

    Hpoe you can help. My carport is attached to my house i want to close two sides to to create a room and bathroom existing foundation and roof, must i submit a plan for this. Thank You.

    • Hi Este, It is not about the floor or the roof the Regulations refer to the class of use of any structure. You want to change the class of building from a carport to a dwelling with plumbing and a sewage outlet. All the building regulations apply to your extension and you will have to submit plans for approval before you do the renovation.

  3. Hi there. I have recently purchased a proper with a low precast boundary wall. I want to change this to palisade fencing or possibly built proper wall at bottom and add palisade to top? Do I need to get plans in order to do this??

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