New Zealanders love to entertain, whether it’s with friends, family, neighbours or work colleagues. There’s something about socialising over a drink or food that brings people together. For this reason, outdoor entertaining areas are becoming more and more popular with households wanting to use alfresco dining areas all year long.
As outdoor fireplaces are starting to replace the trusty kiwi bbq and entertaining areas are becoming a staple must-have in New Zealander’s backyards, we thought we would outline what you need to know when it comes to building requirements or council consents for an outdoor fireplace, especially as the law is changing later this year.
What does the building consent act state for outdoor fireplaces?
As of August 2020, additional building consent exemptions are being added to the Building Act. These new exemptions mean you will not need consent for an outdoor fireplace or oven built up to a maximum height of 2.5 metres, and with a maximum cooking surface of 1 square metre.
The fireplace or oven must be at least one metre away from any legal boundary or building in order to comply. So if your structure is lower than 2.5 metres, more than 1 metre from the boundary and has less than 1 sqm cooking area, it does not need a building consent. However, if your outdoor fireplace is going to be attached to the outside wall of your home, a building consent is essential. Learn more about the new building consent exemption regulations by visiting the building.govt.nz website here.
But what if your fireplace is taller than 2.5 metres high, or has a larger cooking surface than 1 sqm?
What is the first step in the process?
We recommend that you speak to an expert before you install your outdoor fireplace. If you’re working with a landscaper or an architect, there is a high chance they have already had council sign off. If you have purchased or looking to purchase a Trendz Outdoors Fireplace then our team are happy to discuss consents with you. These consents could vary depending on region and councils and we can work with the council on your behalf to achieve consents or exemptions. It is very important to talk to your local council and find out exactly what permits or building consents you will need.
Will the council need to see your plans?
Yes, the council will want to see your plans as consents may be exempt on a case by case basis. If you’re building a new house then your plans will need to include where the fireplace will be located on your property, including the distance between your boundary and where the fireplace will be placed. This is an important factor in the consent process.
Depending on how far your neighbour is to your boundary, the council may give an exemption as your outdoor fireplace is not going to create a nuisance for neighbours. The councils will also want to see the fireplace drawings. All fireplaces must be constructed from heat-safe materials, which usually mean brick, block, concrete, or stone for the exterior. The firebox must also be constructed from steel or fire-rated bricks that will be able to handle extreme heat.
We are able to supply drawings and plans to architects and builders so these can be assessed in the planning process for approval.
If you’re adding an outdoor fireplace to an existing home then it’s safer to ensure you have council permission to add it to your property. If a neighbour reports your new addition or an inspection by the council occurs and you’re not compliant, you may be instructed to remove the outdoor fireplace or oven. This can be especially true if you go to sell a house and the report shows a non-compliant addition to the home. This may put buyers off and also result in a report being filed.
It’s safer to avoid this worry and stress by ensuring you’re compliant from the very beginning. An exemption or consent, gives written proof that you’re OK to have the fireplace or oven and you don’t need to worry about its removal.
Do council consents cost money?
If you have spoken to your local council and they have advised you that your outdoor fireplace will need council consent then this will come at an additional cost. The cost will depend on your local council and they will advise you on this.
Sometimes a council will judge your individual case and grant an exemption. This may simply be written confirmation that you are compliant without building consent and can be used to show that the new fireplace is allowed. Sometimes this will be free of charge and other times it will come at a smaller fee. Each council is different and the team at Trendz Outdoors can let you know more or help you through this process.
Do outdoor fireplaces need a building code of compliance?
An outdoor fireplace does not need a building code of compliance unless it is attached to a building such as your home, garage or second dwelling. Just to be safe, it pays to always check with your local council to make sure your proposed building work does not have any district planning implications.
If your outdoor fireplace is classed as exempt from the council should I still get the appropriate paperwork?
Yes, if your outdoor fireplace has been classed as exempt from the Building Act 2019, we advise that you still register your fireplace as exempt work so it would be in the council records and will help avoid complications in the future for either yourself or someone else. Almost all Trendz Outdoors fireplaces are taller than 2.5 metres high. But because they’re only 2.6 metres that puts them into a grey area as to whether a council will require consents, or grant an exemption. We’re happy to handle this process with your local council to reduce the stress of buying your perfect outdoor fireplace.
If the council decides you need to comply with the new laws and won’t grant an exemption then you will need to acquire consent and you will need to ensure the fireplace is installed at its height from the boundary. For many of our fireplaces, this will mean a 2.6 metre distance from the boundary.
If you’re looking to purchase a Trendz Outdoors fireplace our team are experts when it comes to dealing with councils all over New Zealand and would be happy to contact your local council to apply for either an exemption certificate or council consent on your behalf.
Having handled hundreds of fireplace deliveries across the country we know this process can seem daunting and costly but often find it’s little stress and cost for lasting peace of mind. If you have any questions or are unsure about the consent requirements feel free to contact a member of the team using the button below. We’re more than happy to help.