Building consent

Restricted building work

The government introduced new residential building rules in 2012 known as Restricted Building Work (RBW).

The rules apply to residential design and construction work that is critical to a building and the work must only be carried out or supervised by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP).

RBW seeks to:

  • ensure that critical design and building work is carried out or supervised by competent persons
  • ensure there is accountability if the RBW that has been designed, carried out or supervised does not meet required standards.


Revised Certificate of Work for RBW Design

As a result of feedback on the Certificate of Work, and after discussions with IPENZ, ACENZ NZIA and several councils, a revised certificate (PDF 191KB) has been developed by the Building and Housing Group, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

For further assistance to fill out the Certificate of Design Work, please refer to the worked example (PDF 309KB).

How do I know if my residential work is RBW?

If your residential building work is structural or if it affects the weathertightness of the building, the work may be RBW. 

RBW only relates to residential construction, alterations and design of houses and small to medium sized apartment buildings.

A house is a free-standing, fully detached building consisting of a single residential unit

A small to medium sized apartment is a building that:

  • contains two or more residential units (apartments) or residential facilities (foyer, laundry, garage, etc.)
  • does not contain commercial units or facilities
  • has a maximum height of less than 10m (the vertical distance between the highest point of its roof - excluding aerials, chimneys, flagpoles and vents - and the lowest point of the ground).

Licensed Building Practitioners

Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) are people who have shown through assessment that they meet the standard of skill and competence in particular areas of building practice.

They include:

  • designers (registered architects and chartered professional engineers are automatically treated as Design LBPs)
  • carpenters
  • roofers
  • bricklayers and blocklayers
  • external plasterers
  • foundation layers.

There are separate licences for each of these building practitioners which recognise that they are competent in their specialist areas (some tradespeople may have more than one licence).

It is your responsibility as the homeowner to check that the people you are using to do your RBW have the relevant licence.

LBPs can only complete RBW for which they are licensed. It is important that you check with them that they have the relevant licence before you start your work.

To register a LBP to your building project, complete the notification of LBP form.

To find out if your local tradesperson has a licence, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.


Owner-builder exemptions

Owner-builders may carry out restricted building work (RBW) on their home.

You are an owner-builder if you:

  • live in, or are going to, the home (includes a bach/holiday home)
  • carry out the RBW on your own home yourself, or with help from unpaid friends and family members, and
  • have not, under the owner-builder exemption, carried out RBW to any other home within the previous 3 years.

If an owner-builder holds a license for the restricted building work (RBW), they will not be considered for an exemption. The owner-builder exemption is specifically tailored to apply to a DIY; or for an exemption for RBW where the owner-builder proposes to carry out works that they are not licensed to carry out.

The owner-builder exemption will not cover works such as electrical, gas or plumbing and drainage unless the owner-builder holds appropriate licenses for this work. The owner-builder exemption is not valid until you submit a written declaration to council confirming that you meet the owner-builder criteria.

The statutory declaration form must be witnessed and signed by a legally authorised person such as a Justice of the Peace. This form must be included with your building consent application, or before your RBW begins.

Statutory declaration as to owner-builder status (PDF 79KB)

Further information on owner builder exemptions is available in the guidance document AC1818:

Owner builder exemptions (PDF 58KB)

Your feedback helps us to improve our website. If you have feedback about our services (not the website), please contact us.