Dealing with the Council

The A to Z of a kit set shed.

Blog 1: Dealing with Council

When you’re thinking about building a new shed, there’s a lot to think about. How to even begin the project can be a hurdle (hint: get in touch with sheds4u!). What do I need, what has my local council got to say about it, how long does it take – these are the sort of things we get asked every day by people just like you.

This series of blogs will cover off the A-to-Z of kit set sheds, from council expectations to design to earthworks, jargon busting, delivery of your kit and the many other things you need to know.

Over the last 20-plus years we’ve supplied sheds of every size everywhere around New Zealand, so we’ve learned a lot about what to do and just as importantly, what not to do.

Let’s begin with your council’s requirements:

First thing to know is that councils work to their timelines, not yours, so the sooner you start the council process, the sooner you’ll finish the building process.

Below are a few factors that often be snags for those not fully informed of the shed consent and building process. If you’re unsure or feel like your build might fall into the one of these categories, it’s much wiser to ask us now rather than find out later and get unpleasantly surprised!

Some buildings don’t require council/ building consent but to do so they must meet the following requirements:

The building must be a single-story pole shed or hay barn and must not be bigger than 110m2 in floor area.

It must not exceed 4.0m above floor level, and the building floor level must not exceed 1m off the supporting ground.

The building must not exceed an unsupported roof span of 6.0m in any direction and must be at least its own height away from any residential building, public road, railway, or legal boundary (other district or unitary plan boundary rules are also applicable and may override this, so it’s always better to check).

The building must not be accessible to the public or used to store hazardous substances and it must be in a rural area.

The property you’re building on must not be in a wind zone that is greater than ‘high’ or have a design wind speed of more than 44.0m/per second. Contact your local council for further advice on wind zones and wind speeds.

There are no restrictions on what type of materials can be used to construct the above buildings.

Any shed with a footprint over 110m2 does need building consent. Most shed providers, including Sheds4U, can help you with this and consents are relatively easy to get. But, as ever, there are a few potential problems you ought to know about.

A resource consent is separate from a building consent and is essentially a form of council approval required for a specific site. While relatively common, they can be a nasty little surprise after you’ve lodged your building consent! These typically cost around $1,000, depending on how complex they are. Things that can trigger needing a resource consent include:

Boundaries: Every property has a boundary requirement where a building must be a certain distance from the road and neighbouring boundaries. This distance can differ between rural, residential, and commercial zones.

If you want your building closer to the boundary than what’s allowed, you’ll need to apply for a resource consent with your council. So, let’s say you intend to breach the permitted road boundary, then the council will likely check to see if your building will cause any visual obstruction that may cause increased risk other road users.

Your shed supplier may have a reasonably good idea of what to expect, but there might be site-specific and/or council-specific regulations. It’s always best to contact your council directly to find out exactly what these are.

Colour: In areas of high visual importance – Aoraki/ Mt Cook, Hanmer, Central Otago, and other scenic areas – the building needs to “blend in” with the surroundings to reduce visual impact. There’s often a minimum ‘light reflectance value’ (LRV) rating too, which affects what type of cladding you can use. Again, see your council and can ask them what your options are.

Height Restrictions: Some areas have height restrictions which are mainly related to the visual aspect of the shed. In a residential setting, there are often recession planes to work within. If your shed is near your boundary, it’s important to determine the exact requirement your council requires to comply.

This might mean having to either reduce the height of your shed or moving it further away from the boundary. If you don’t investigate this before you lodge your consent, it could well result in extra costs, and push out your timeline.

Flood Zones: This can be a big problem and can easily be overlooked until consent has been lodged with the council. Flood zones are usually low-lying areas not far from a natural watercourse, and if your property is in a flood zone and considered ‘high risk’, there is a chance you won’t be allowed to build there

In lower-risk flood zones however, you might need to raise the height of your shed’s foundations to comply, meaning more extensive earthworks, more fill, and of course more money.

Your council planning department will be able to give you guidance specific to your site and what’s needed if you want to build in one of these zones. The smart money’s on looking into this early in the design phase of your shed, to escape complications and unforeseen costs.

Stormwater Disposal: Every building needs a statement about where stormwater will go. Options, depending on where your shed is located, include:

  • No guttering – water flows straight to the ground and disperses evenly.
  • Guttering – piped/channelled to a swale or natural watercourse/ piped to soak-pits via a 100mm stormwater pipe/ connecting to the existing stormwater system.

Remember that council regulations are always changing. Some regions no longer allow stormwater to be discharged to a natural watercourse. Some councils now say that any earthworks within 10m or discharge of water within 100m of a natural wetland are no longer allowed.  

Peer review or producer statement: While notoverly common, this can impact on your timeline and mean additional costs. The council will require a third-party engineer’s review of the design calculations to verify that your design is suitable for your proposed site.

We really recommend talking to your local council directly early on, and finding out what consent requirements are needed for your specific project. Find your local council’s contact details here.

Otherwise, Sheds4U’s in-house team has a wealth of knowledge to share, saving time and trouble. Just get in touch — we ‘ll gladly input on any questions you have.

We’re more than happy to lodge your building consent for a small fee, and we know of the regulations that may be required, so it’s a great idea to chat to us about this!  

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