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1. Check if you need a consent to build or extend a sleepout or a cabin

Have your plan ready

Under the NZ Building Regulations there is a lot of building work you can do yourself. The website for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is also helpful.

Before checking whether you need a consent for your detached stand-alone building, you need to know:

  • dimensions of the project (height, total area)
  • location on property where the project will go
  • size of the property in square metres. The net floor area in a building is measured to the inside of the enclosing walls or posts/columns. 
  • total area of your property currently covered by buildings
  • total area of your property currently covered by hard surfaces, for example concrete or paved areas.

Depending on the size and design of your structure,  the work (design and/or construction) may be required to be carried out by a Chartered Professional Engineer and/or Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP).   

Our tip

If your sleepout or cabin is close to a boundary, and you have the written approval from your neighbours, you can apply for a Deemed Permitted Boundary Activity.
This application replaces the need to apply for a resource consent.

​How to check if you need a consent to build a detached stand-alone building

From 31 August 2020, several new building consent exemptions are in place regarding new sleepouts, cabins and other detached stand-alone dwellings.

The latest guidance on these exemptions can found on the MBIE website.


Our online tool helps you check if you need a building or resource consent for your sleepout or cabin.

This tool only applies to sleepouts located on the ground.

Have your plans ready before you start.

It should take you about 10 minutes to complete.

Check now

 By phone

​Phone us on 09 301 0101.

 In person

​Visit any one of our libraries with council services.

You should know

Smoke alarms must be installed in sleeping areas, or within 3m of sleeping areas so it can be heard effectively.

Sleepouts or cabins should not contain any facilities for cooking or sanitation, or any potable water supply.

The sleepout or cabin must be associated with the main dwelling where sanitary facilities are available.

Some common features where a consent will be required include:

  • if a fire wall is required (for example, less than 1m from a boundary), regardless of any neighbours’ permission
  • if the new structure's foundations or stormwater drainage affect existing neighbouring structures (such as retaining walls or large detention tanks) or if they damage existing fencing footings.
  • if your building has a kitchen and a bathroom it is considered a self-contained minor dwelling (a minor household unit), not a sleepout or cabin. It might need a resource consent as well as a building consent.
Your building work must:
  • comply with the Building Code, even if no building consent is needed
  • not damage public service drains if its foundations are close to the underground pipes.