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Kitchen Toolbox : Construction

Key actions and questions to answer:

  • Do you need a Building Consent?  Make sure you are familiar with your local council requirements and restrictions.
  • Find out what permits are required for your proposed renovation and how long it usually takes to get council approval
  • Does your work contain Restricted Building Work?
  • Do you need a Licenses Building Practitioner? If you do make sure you find the ones you need based on the work involved:
            • Builder
            • Architect
            • Electrician
            • Plumber
  • Prepare a Project Completion Schedule with your Tradesperson, allowing for known and unforeseen delays like weather etc..
  • Sign a Fixed Price Contract with your Tradesperson (if applicable) and secure with a deposit
  • If the project needed a Building Consent, a Code of Compliance Certificate (CCC) will be issued by your Building Consent Authority after the final inspection of the finished building project
  • Make sure you house and contents insurance covers such things as renovations, contact your insurance company before starting any construction.

The first thing you need to determine is if you need a tradeperson for any of your renovations or if your project can be done without a Licensed Building Practitioner and by yourself (DIY).

Determining if you need a Licensed Building Practitioner

Licensed Building Practitioners

A Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) is a tradesperson you can trust to know how to “build it right”. Licensed Building Practitioners have been assessed as being competent to do the type of building they hold a licence for.

Licensed Building Practitioners have to show certain skills, give proof of practical experience and comply with the building code to get their licence. They also have to gain enough maintenance points every two years to keep it.

There are a number of licences that can be held by a tradesperson. These each specialise in an area of the building process. These licences are:

  • Design
  • Carpentry
  • Foundation
  • Roofing
  • Brick and Block laying
  • External Plastering

Registered architects and chartered professional engineers are automatically treated as design LBPs and you can employ them to do any Restricted Building Work design. Registered plumbers and gasfitters are automatically treated as LBPs in the roofing, external plastering, and brick and blocklaying licensing classes. All can only carry out work that they are competent to do.


To check if your contractor is a licensed building practitioner visit

Choosing the right tradespeople

Often you hear horror stories of fradulent tradespeople or jobs gone wrong, but it needn't be the stuff of nightmares if you do your due diligence before signing on the dotted line. These are just a few of the key reasons a project could turn sour:

  • Unrealistic expectations of the owner
  • Over-demand for services and materials leading to shortages and delays
  • Lack of communication and misunderstandings
  • Unscrupulousness or dishonesty (on either side)

In order to minimise such headaches do your research beforehand - make sure you've got priorities and budget set and choose someone you trust. We've selected a number of trusted kitchen manufacturers and specialists that you can find on our locator page, but here are some tips that can be applied when selecting any kind of tradesperson for your job:

  • ask your friends, family and colleagues - everyone is willing to share the good, and the not so good regarding their personal experiences
  • research online - almost all business will now have websites where you can view imagery of past jobs. Some may even have published testimonials
  • visit a review website such as NoCowboys - in the absence of tradespeople recommended by friends and family, websites such as these allow people in your neighbourhood to share their experience. These servies provide some reassurance when you're stepping into the unknown and less than satisfactory tradies will be easy to spot
  • ask the three crucial questions:

1. Are they licensed to be legally able to carry out the job?

2. Do they belong to a Masters or trade association, and what exactly does that mean?

3. Do they have insurance and a health and safety policy?

The right Tradespeople for your job

If your building includes Restricted Building Work, make sure you hire a Licensed Building Practitioner to do it, and that they hold the licence that matches the Restricted Building Work you are having done.

There are a lot of different ways that you might go about organising the building or renovating of your home. You might build through a contracting company who will hire the right Licensed Building Practitioners for you or you might hire a builder who holds a carpenter LBP licence. They may then hire other LBPs to do work such as roofing and plumbing. Other options are hiring each type of tradesperson directly or asking your designer to project manage the work for you.

It is important that the Restrict Building Work on your home is done by a Licensed Building Practitioner who is licensed to do that type of Restricted Building Work. For example if it is Restricted Building Work to the roof, then the tradesperson has to be licensed in roofing.

Registered Architects and Chartered Professional Engineers are automatically treated as design LBPs.

Registered Plumbers and Registered Gasfitters are automatically treated as LBPs in the roofing, external plastering, and bricklaying and blocklaying licensing classes. This is in recognition they carry out this type of work in the ordinary course of their business, and they must only carry out work that falls within their own competence levels.

Registered Architects, Chartered Professional Engineers and Registered Plumbers and Registered Gasfitters have their own registration systems. They won’t be listed on the LBP register.

  • Architects (New Zealand Registered Architects Board)
  • Engineers (IPENZ Engineers New Zealand)
  • Plumbers and gasfitters (Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board)



What is Restricted Building Work?

Restricted Building Work is work which is critical to the integrity of a building. It makes sure the building is structurally sound and weathertight, that’s why it can only be done or supervised by tradespeople who are Licensed Building Practitioners. Having Restricted Building Work regulations makes sure that your family home, often a New Zealander’s biggest asset, is protected.

Your Designer must identify all the Restricted Building Work on your job when they fill in their Memorandum (Certificate of Design). They’ll do this when they draw up your building plans.

It's important to know that a lot of work that requires a Building Consent (contact your local council to determine building consent, click here for council details) will includeRestrictedBuildingwork, but not all. If the work to your home does not include work to the primary structure or its weathertightness, then it is likely to not be Restricted Building Work. Below are a few examples of building work that require a building consent, but don’t necessarily contain Restricted Building Work:

  • Fitting new sanitary fixtures where there were not any previously (e.g new kitchen or ensuite)
  • Installation of a wood burner
  • Domestic wind turbine
  • Domestic swimming pool
  • Installing a cable car to a home
  • Installing other specified systems in small/medium apartments (e.g. smoke alarms, lift, HVAC system)
  • Installing insulation to external walls in a home

The information on LBP and Restricted Building work comes from The Department of Building and Housing.  For more information please visit

Talk to the council

Visit the website of your local council to find out if you can undertake the renovations you are planning on.

  • The zone that your property is listed in will effect how you can renovate: heritage areas may not allow major changes whereas other zone may have restrictions on how high you can build
  • Get hold of a recent Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report which details everything the council knows about your property unless you have a recent report. This will detail any hazards of the site or any restrictions that may apply
  • If you wish to go against any of these regulations you will need resource consent – find out exactly what the council want in terms of documentation before you start so there are no horrible surprises later!

Choosing a Builder

Do You Like the Builder?

This comes first as even if all the following points fall in line, there is nothing worse than trying to deal with someone you cannot get along with. Remember, you will be sharing your hopes, dreams and aspiration for your home and your lifestyle with them, they will be in your house for long periods of time. You need to be able to openly and honestly express your opinions, good or bad, so get a builder who will listen and deal with you in a professional and friendly manner.


The next most important quality is experience. You don’t want a builder who has never attempted a renovation before, and who is not really sure how to achieve what you want. Request a list of previous clients and ring them to ask about their experience renovating. Look through photos and where possible visit some completed jobs. If they are a good builder they won’t mind you talking to previous clients about their renovations in order to gauge their level of experience.

Work Ethic

You need someone who will turn up when they say, carry out work efficiently and honestly, conduct themselves and their team professionally, and put your needs first. When talking to the builder, have a look in the back of his ute, his dress and overall manner - if he is tidy, courteous, on time to initial appointments and really listens to you in the early stages of your decision making process - chances are good this will carry over into his work ethic.


Once you've ascertained that you and your builder get on, and you've picked up some good recommendations of previous work completed, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty: does your builder have the correct insurance to ensure that everyone and everything is covered should the unthinkable happen. The builder should have public liability insurance which is needed in case someone gets hurt on site and they may also have cover in case there is damage to your property, they go bust or have an accident, so you can pay someone else to finish the job.

Fixed Price Quote

A fixed price quote can save a lot of hassle in renovations. A good builder has the ability to inspect, assess and quote accurately enough to give you a fixed price quote. If a variation is needed in unforseen circumstances, again a fixed price should not be a problem.

Five key questions to ask your builder

Renovating or building a home is a huge commitment, in terms of time, money and the emotional investment that goes along with a project of this size and importance to your daily life. Before you break ground it’s important to know what’s in store, and to ask the right questions so there are no surprises. Here are five questions that you should ask your builder before signing on the dotted line and kicking off your project,


What’s the schedule?

Not only do you need to know when they plan on starting, and when the projected end date is, but it is important to highlight milestones along the way to ensure you know that you’re on track. It’s also a good idea to know in advance when key decisions need to be made, especially if they’re the type of decision that can hold up building, such as those related to plumbing or electrical. 

If you’re planning to be finished for a certain event, such as a big birthday or family celebration, make sure your builder is aware of this and add in some buffer time, just in case!


Who’s in charge?

Especially with a renovation, you want to know who will have the keys to your home, and be responsible for locking up at the end of each day.  If you’ve got subcontractors such as electricians and plumber on site you’ll want to know who is keeping an eye on them, and who you can contact if you have any concerns or questions.


How will the property be protected?

Along with knowing who will be locking up each day, it’s important to discuss any changes with your insurance provider so that you know what to do should something unplanned occur.

Building sites can be messy, so it is also a good idea to discuss how mess such as dust, debris and construction rubbish will be dealt with ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary fines from council or aggravated neighbours. This is especially important where you’re renovating – just because you’re getting a wonderful new addition to your home doesn’t necessarily mean you want to damage the existing structure or any furniture or possessions.


What is the best way to communicate?

Discuss in advance how and when you will receive updates on progress or requests to make changes as the project progresses.  Any number of unplanned events may occur that require changes to your plans – affecting the outcome and often coming with a cost. Make sure you’ve agreed how to handle such situations before you start – you don’t want to hold up construction because the team are waiting on you to make a key decision that has been sent to an irregularly checked email address.


What are the biggest areas of concern?

Without putting a dampener on the project it is a good idea to discuss the biggest risks and challenges ahead of starting so that both the builder, and you are aware of worst case scenarios and how you might deal with these should they occur.  This can also help with your financial planning – it’s always a good idea to have some extra funds just in case – and with the scheduling.


Discussing these items up front will help to ensure that you and your builder are on the same page in regards to time, money, and unplanned changes that might be required, and the standards of care you expect during the construction.  With all the necessities out of the way you can relax and get excited about your project, and future dream kitchen!


If you are still living in the house while work is going on, you need to be especially conscious of risks to the safety of you and your family. Don’t let children play or wander around the work area. Danger comes from the generally hazardous nature of building sites, including:

  • Falls into excavations, or off the edges of building work.
  • Power tools in operation or left lying around.
  • Fumes or contamination from building materials, including treated timber, and glues in enclosed spaces. 

If you are doing the work yourself, follow normal commonsense safety practices, such as ladder safety, and using the correct safety gear.

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