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owner/builder exemption

owner/builder exemption

Posted 06 Feb '15 12:50 AM


I'm looking at building my own home in the nelson region and have been a bit confused about building law.

I understand some of the various rules but the one about not employing anyone on the build has got me a bit stumped.

Can I still employ various sub contractors eg roofing gang, plumber, electrician subject to their own licensing requirements?

I would very much like to employ a labourer and my interpretation is I can as long as they don't do any restricted building work (subject to normal employment and insurance regulations). There is lots of fetching, carrying, painting, puttying and end of wood holding to make one necessary on this size project.

Anyone else's views? Do many people do their own build under this exemption?


Re: owner/builder exemption

Posted 01 Jun '15 11:20 PM

We have nearly completed our owner built home. We got a licenced builder to pour the foundation, and signed an exemption form for that - if you ring your local council they can let you know what the procedure was. I believe that it's ok to subcontract electrical, plumbing etc subtrades just as a licenced builder would do.

I'm not sure about the labourer, but your interpretation seems sensible.

Good luck, it's well worth it!

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 27 Jan '16 01:28 PM

There's a lot you can do as a owner builder - do not be scared-off by the few who want to control this industry. We have been through this process and got through relatively OK. We've build a traditional farmhouse (block walls, external and internal plaster, timber joinery etc) with "features" which gave a lot of council staff that "head scratching" moment. Lots of frustration obviously as the governement is trying to clamp things down around us, by regulating the heck out of everything they can make some money on to keep feeding the fat leech system they've created. It also make you realise that "private property" is a myth. The governement and its agencies are public servants and should be kept on a short leash. Let me know specific questions and I'll be happy to assist.

It is every man and woman owning property's God given right to build their own home!

Good luck,

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 01 Jun '16 09:36 AM

Hi all

I am pleased to have found this site, and I agree with Christo that it is a (God) given, human right to build their own home if they so choose because of financial necessity or perhaps a strong interest/passion and natural ability in construction building etc as is the case with me.

I feel somewhat of a loner here in NZ and perhaps it is so in the rest of the world that to talk of providing for yourself and your family by building your own home such views are met with what could be described as derision by local council officials and the wider community, and comments such as "are you a real builder?" "You cant do that!"...the assumption is automatic...that the house will be of low quality it will fall down leak and look ugly etc...I am building a house for myself to live in...why would I not ensure it will not leak be strong and durable and be aesthetically pleasing?.

I have successfully built my own small dwelling here in the lower part of the Coromandel under the Hauraki District Council starting in around 2000 I had purchased the land and had built a two bay timber framed garage with a pitched roof which was a concern for the Council...they want to see houses built before the garage a person might decide to live in a garage and... well we cant have people doing that can we? I decided to approach the council and seek building consent to then convert the garage to a small dwelling and as the basic specs were compliant with the then regulations for a dwelling (footings etc) I drew up hand ...yes...not accepted nowadays and paid for the consent to convert the garage into a dwelling, which I accomplished virtually singlehandedly adhering to the building code.

I sourced locally most of the building materials including timber joinery (used) and second hand clay bricks for two sides of the exterior and proceeded to build my house, over time with time restrictions due to having to work for income also. The local council building inspector to his credit was helpful in the beginning but as councils then were running scared due to the leaky homes fiasco he became less and less helpful but nonetheless I succeeded and have a house that is code compliant, cute and cosy, a low impact dwelling that is a bit of a head turner and I receive many favourable comments on the result.

We have now a housing crisis, with ridiculous and expensive building regulations all driven by insurance companies I suspect, I feel saddened that what I achieved once I cannot achieve again even though I have solid proof I can build to a high habitable standard...what we are ending up with is a landscape filling up with "samey" housing all high cost GJ Gardener Golden Home type of housing that quite frankly look ugly in their sameness although I am sure they are beautiful homes to reside in and those that own them I am sure are proud of their asset.

My point is that not everyone can afford these and in our world of high unemployment and underemployment low income situations for many...(trust me with the onset of massive layoffs due to mechanisation automation and digitisation is set to get far worse)..its time there was a good discussion around the basic human right to provide your own dwelling for yourself and your family if that is your natural inclination...imagine a major natural catastrophe where say half the population were homeless due to volcanic upheaval or suchlike...would we all sit back and shelter ourselves in canvas tents etc until we get planning permission from an already overly bureaucratic system that will certainly stand in the way of people attempting to provide a basic human need....shelter? I suspect not.

I work in Mental Health Support, what I see are many men beaten down by a system that tells them they cant do this they cant do that and I would like to find a way to "beat the bastards back" they say all evil starts out with good intent....we are over governed... certainly in respect to housing.

I would welcome any feedback on my thoughts, and would welcome any discussion on the matter of the basic human right of building your own home if you so wish or if circumstances dictate that is your only option...United We Stand Divided We Fall



RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 13 Jun '16 01:52 AM

I totally agree with Cristo and Mike in their view of a human beings right to provide for him/her self and loved ones by buiding your own home ( or renovating one). Unfortunately govenment ( central and local ) has built a wall of burocracy to try and stop that. Its no wonder houses are costing so much more to build now than they did in the past . ( the percentage cost of paperwork just for design/consent/ inspection etc of building work is crazy eg consent cost of a kit set carport (erect yourself) can be around 30% !)).
I am currently half way through a self build ( owner builder exemption) and i will pass on what I have found out to hopfully help others.
Regarding what you can do yourself under " owner builder exemption" , we are allowed to do any job that a LBP would do ie carpentry ,brick/blocklaying, roofing etc But not Electrical, plumbing ,drainage, and Gas. ( as they are not LBP's as such)
The owner builder exemption says you can only have the help of UNPAID family and friends !
It seems that the govenment put this in there to stop you using a cheaper non registered builder to help you ( even though there are some really great experienced older buiders who just dont want the hassle of registration).
Regarding using a paid labourer , you will have to be carefull as this could be interpreted as breaking this rule. My feeling is you could get round it if asked by explaining he does not do any LBP work , sometimes does cleaning, landscaping/ gardening etc .
You can pay a builder or any other LBP to help do a specific item or portion of work on the build but you have to tell the L A ( consent ) and list what they do.
This is where the problems can be . No LBp wants to be liable for anything that might crop up in the future (as their name will be on it )
No body knows how the system will pan out inthe future as its all new.
My feeling is I want to take full responability for the house I build , i know it will be strong watertight and last longer than most. So if any one were to help me Id prefere if it is just my name as the person who built the house.
This brings me on to the other ares like plumbing and drainage. I have carried out plumbing and drainage over 20 years in an other first world country but are not registerd here I have found out most of the plumbing rules here BUT if I were to get the building inspector to check plumbing and he past it and then I said I did it, he would then fail it even though it was correctly done!( As I am not one of the registered plumbers) hummm" jobs for the boys as they say"
Well there is provision in the plumbing drainlaying and gas fitting act for home owners to carry out there own sanitary plumbing BUT it has only been on a council by counsil basis which is a mess . currently in south island you can do your own plumbing in Dunedin city, , hurunui, karamea and I think waimea . there are another 14 councils in the north island ( interestingly Wellington).
I have a map from the plumbing board.
sadly my council does not have the exempion enacted and when I asked if they would have any objections they refused to support an exemption in our area!
I would like to start a campain with the help of others to get it changed to a nationwide basis so this exemption could cover the whole country. Its Crazy they say we can build our own house but plumb it O no it dangerous that water it could kill you ,ha ha ( I feel its the plumbing board protecting jobs of there own members as they help draw up the rules.)
well enough of my rambles for now , let me know if you feel the same about the home owner plumbing exempion. ( by the way a govenment official said they were thinking of scraping the rule for home owner plumbing exemption as they thought nobody was interested!!

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 19 Jul '16 02:27 PM

As a future owner/builder I am very interested in this topic knowing that it will be an uphill struggle to go through the consent process from the start to finish.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 19 Jul '16 05:01 PM

Hi Tandem, its not that hard, just dont let the "system" intimidate you into believing that you can not do it. I will also encourage you to establish some contacts with a good civil/structural engineer, many battles has been won with one of these guys/girls in ones corner. Good luck and let us know how you're getting on.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 13 Aug '16 09:23 PM

DIYBOB your bit about the plumbing of your own home is possible in some regions, where do I find this information?

I have been on the plumbing board and it has an area about exempt workers working under supervision of a certifying plumber am I on the right track. This says you need the certifier to register you for a feevto say you are working under them?

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 09 Sep '16 09:38 PM

I have a question please, dose anyone know or can anyone quote the Self Build Exemption rule in regard to inspections does it actually state we still need inspections? What is that wording.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 10 Sep '16 09:34 AM

hi Ron1,
Owner Builders are not exempt from inspections but if you've missed some inspections it should not be hard sort out. If you have missed all inspections and it can be verified that you have followed the code (building or specific design), there is a way out as well. Maybe share the position you are in?

Good luck

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 29 Sep '16 01:56 PM

Ex builder due to accident in 1999 so designed and built own home in BOP. Ready for interior fit-out and looking to get insurance on valuable asset in terms of materials built in and my own considerable labour content. NO Building Consent as poured footing prior to talking to council. Told to apply for Cert. of Acceptance once completed. Now getting run-a-round from insurance company as to not having Building Consent. Any comments appreciated. Is 3 bdrms, office, bathroom, toilet, en suite and double internal garage.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 01 Oct '16 10:06 PM

Yep had the same even with a building consent, they just want to sign you up as a contractor with all the add-on fees etc. I did get somewhere with FMG insurance they listened and did get back to me with a proposal but the value they applied for the building works was over 3 times the valve I wanted to insure. We plan to live in ours (without having a CCC completed) this summer so once again will be talking to insurers. How have others found getting insurance?


RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 04 Oct '16 04:08 PM

Hi Two Dogs, Sorry for not replying sooner and sorry to hear about your accident which obviously did not deter you from taking on a huge job, well done!
Now regardless of if you have poured the slab without building consent or not, you will need to sort things out with council, who tends to be "friendly" in a different kind of way. They can give you a stop work order and this is something you want to avoid like the plague as it will waste your time and if you pickup a hammer they can turn nasty and fine you big dollars, which you obviously need to complete your project. Please feel free to email me and we can take this discussion off line and I will try to assit you to get clean with them and get at least as Certificate of Acceptance and possibly a Code of compliance for the remainder of the outstanding works.

Ping me on : onceuponaseed @ gmail . com


RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 04 Oct '16 04:11 PM

Two Dogs, see my feedback down the bottom of the forum. Good luck.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 04 Oct '16 04:32 PM

Hi Ron1 and everyone else interested in Ron1's question/comment. As we all know, the banking system and Insurance industry rely on valuations to ensure that they minimize their risk. We will also all agree that the current housing market is overly inflated and will not be sustainable in the long run, period!

Regardless of this we need to "play" along until this big ugly bubble explodes, and yes, it will explode. Much worst than back in 2007/2009.

Use the following site to help you determine what you should insure your house for

This is the total cost to rebuild, (including demolition and removal of debris) that if the earth should tremble and the big one strike us like in Italy on the 24th of August 2016(God be with everyone who lost a loved one), that someone else appointed by the EQC and insurance company will rebuild what you are living in now (maybe not up to your quality of workmanship) but good enough and hopefully this time it will have a code of compliance.

You can still decide what you insure the structure for, the banking cartel and insurance companies will not tell you what to ensure it for, as it could come back to haunt them.

I have found Vero / Suncorp to be the best company to deal with, professional staff who can use their commonsense.

Build it yourself or loose the right forever! Good luck

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 05 Jan '17 07:00 PM


Many thanks, you have opened my eyes! This is incredible! I start tomorrow... ;-)

Mr Lucas, I did a search:

The answer you seek is in S15 of the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006:


RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 05 Jan '17 10:14 PM

Well done Al... THANK YOU. But the key will be are we in the right place??? "situated in a place to which this subsection applies" and how do we search the "notice in the Gazette" to figure this out? Cheers Ron.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 05 Jan '17 10:34 PM

Hi Ron,

Thanks. And very good question!

Still working on it...

With regard to Building, if you're in Auckland (where art thou?), you're in luck! Auckland Council is up with the play, which surprised me a lot!

However, I couldn't get an answer regarding Sanitary Plumbing. Got told (by Ak Council Cust Svce) to call back next week, or later... Might try the Plumbing Board tomorrow instead. If that doesn't work, I'll look for the Gazette, but that would have to be the hard way!

Will let you know.


RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 06 Jan '17 11:25 AM

Hi Guys and Gals,

Just received a call back from someone at the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board, regarding the Owner Exemption under s15 of the Act, pertaining to Sanitary Plumbing only. Similar rules apply - must be done by the Home Owner or family, unpaid, and must live there. Suffer their own folly, if there is any. But there shouldn't be as the work has to comply with the rules, regardless.

There are 19 areas throughout NZ that have been exempted and Gazetted. Generally they are outlying rural areas and small communities, but there are a few notable exceptions, most notably Wellington City!

Other significant areas include the Rodney District EXCEPT Land Zoned for Urban Use in the District Plan;
the Whangarei District (not sure if that includes the City but I guess so); and
Dunedin City EXCEPT areas within 1km of a Residential Zone or (areas) connected to a Public, High Pressure Water Supply, which I guess doesn't leave much.

Absolutely, Positively Wellington! Go Welly... Considering the environment (many old houses, steep hills, Earthquake Risk, etc), this is very trusting.

Of course, you'd need to check for yourself before proceeding. Don't take my word for it!

I'd like to add my own words of warning here, as people think water, no problem, no danger. There's a comment somewhere above to that effect. Actually, not quite true. When it comes to Hot Water Heaters, there is very real potential for extreme danger. High Pressure Hot Water Cylinders are more dangerous than Earthquakes, and have the potential to destroy your entire house in an instant, killing everyone in it at the same time. If you plumb one of those up incorrectly and things go wrong (mainly, a thermostat failure and no pressure relief), it can result in a massive boiler explosion (A BLEVE! - Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion).

Ideally, your HWC should ALWAYS be protected by two relief valves, one being the TPR valve, the other the CWE valve. If one fails, (occasionally the TPR valve rusts up and jams), the other will provide protection. But if a Home Owner isn't aware of the dangers and leaves them out, the system will probably still work fine, UNTIL THE THERMOSTAT FAILS. Just because it seems to be working fine on a day to day basis, doesn't mean it's safe! Under the current rules, a Non-Return valve is required in the inlet (and may be included at the water meter?) This prevents pressure relief by way of the Public Supply, so HWC Relief valves are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL.

Further, you should test each of these two valves maybe twice a year, to make sure they are both working correctly. Both valves are fitted with Test handles. The TPR valve usually has a curved lever, which should be raised slowly and gently until hot water starts to flow. Do not open it fully! You can damage your cylinder. Just ease it open until you hear water flowing. The action should be smooth and consistent, not a large resistance which suddenly breaks free. Release it gently also - this is even more important, as a sudden stop can "hydraulic" your cylinder. The CWE valve Test knob is usually operated by turning slowly in one direction. Many are maked with an arrow. The same comments apply, be gentle, but the water will be cold or lukewarm, so you can let a bit run. This helps remove any dirt, grit, etc which may have accumulated around the edges of the valve seat - and which will eventually cause it to wear out and start leaking continually, wasting water. Close it gently also, by releasing in the opposite direction.

I won't go into how to detect when a CWE valve is leaking versus when it is operating normally, but it is designed to "leak" when the cylinder is heating up, and confirming that this is not what it's correctly doing is a little more difficult.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 06 Jan '17 11:31 AM


Looks like it's a common event around the world.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 06 Jan '17 12:16 PM

For the avoidance of doubt or confusion, my comments above regarding Hot Water Cylinder explosions and Pressure Relief valves apply principally to High Pressure (so-called Mains Pressure) Hot Water Systems.

Low Pressure systems are much lower risk. If you have a roof vent pipe, so long as that is open, the risk is almost non-existent.

If you have a Lower Pressure system with a pressure relief valve fitted to the top of the vent pipe, the risks increase somewhat, but copper Hot Water Cylinders are not High Pressure vessels (as "Mains" Pressure cylinders are), and even if things go bad, the cylinder will rupture at a much lower pressure. Still not nice, will undoubtedly cause some explosive damage, but probably not destroy your house. Wouldn't want to be around when it happened though...

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 21 Jan '17 07:23 AM


Going back to the owner builder insurance topic raised...

We are going to be building a house to lock up stage through a group home company then finishing off the interior ourselves. What are the best companies to go with for insurance for our part if the build? I see Vero, Suncorp and FMG were mentioned.

Another thing, would you still be insured and not in trouble with council if you live in a house before it has a code of compliance certificate?



RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 21 Jan '17 01:53 PM

Council's problem with you moving in prior to CoC is to do with Safety and Sanitary concerns while the insurance companies have a very definite demarcation line between insuring a house that is being built and insuring one that is being lived in and generally do not allow the mixing of the two.

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 22 Jan '17 02:01 PM

Do you know if Whanganui District Council allows this?

RE: owner/builder exemption

Posted 22 Jan '17 02:03 PM

Do you know if Whanganui District Council allows this Owner-Builder sanitary plumbing exemption?
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