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The building Act requires that if a building owner intends to change the use of a building or extend the life of a building beyond its specified life the Council must be notified in writing before any work commences.
The Council needs to check that the new building work or use of the building complies with the Building Code as far as reasonably possible in the areas that are being altered. A change in use may require upgrading of safety features, accessibility and disabled facilities within the existing building, as different provisions exist for different types of buildings and uses.
The extent of upgrading required depends on the building proposal or use. Building code requirements differ from one type of use to another – for example, for a residential villa which becomes a restaurant, a warehouse which becomes an apartment.
In all cases, the entire building must continue to comply with the building code to the extent that it did before the alteration or change of use.
For some alterations essential sanitary upgrading is needed for protection from other property:
fire egress and escape from buildings
access and facilities for people with disabilities
Earthquake assessment by structural engineer in accordance with RLC Earthquake Prone Building Policy.
For some change of use proposals, upgrading is also needed for:
protection of other property
structural and fire-rating aspects
Earthquake assessment by structural engineer in accordance with RLC Earthquake Prone
These essential requirements must be upgraded to a standard "as nearly as is reasonably practicable" the same as that required for a new building.
If you are an owner planning changes to your building, discuss your plans with Council early in the project, to avoid delays with building consent.
Council will most likely advise you to get the whole building assessed for any change of use or part thereof as this may have an effect on the whole or other parts of the building. It is therefore advisable to have the whole building assessed by a suitably qualified fire engineer who should cover all the building code clauses and make recommendations as to what changes will be required in order to make the building comply "as nearly as reasonably practicable" the same as that required for a new building.
For more information see Change of Use Guidance information and Change of Use Factsheet