The seller of a property was surprised to discover that the work they had done to insulate the wall cavities in their home prior to sale should have had a building consent.  This was brought to their attention by a prospective buyer of their property as part of their due diligence.  The buyer would not confirm the contract until the insulation was consented to by the council, plus the seller had given warranties in the Agreement regarding this, which could have serious consequences if they were breached. 

The seller had assumed that they did not need council consent to insulate, and were surprised to learn that they did need consent for insulating the wall cavities. 

The seller had to go through the time consuming process of obtaining a Certificate of Acceptance from the local council, at their own cost, to confirm that the insulation had been installed in accordance with the building code.  This involved a lot of invasive and costly work as in order to obtain a Certificate of Acceptance you needed to provide evidence and prove to the council that the works met the current building code.  They were eventually able to secure a successful sale of the home, but it was a time consuming and stressful experience.

Insulating wall cavities – you need consent

Before insulating your home, it is worth looking into the requirements that apply to different types of insulation, to ascertain if you need to apply for a building consent.  While insulation in the roof and underfloor does not require council consent, any insulation in a wall cavity does.  This is because of the potentially serious risks of incorrectly installed wall insulation (such as affecting the fire and electrical safety of a house, and issues associated with moisture transfer).  You must apply to your local council for consent before starting the insulation work, to make sure that the insulation will be safe and compliant.

Why do I need to get council consent?

It is illegal to carry out work that needs to be consented without obtaining that consent first. 

Home owners must obtain all necessary consents and approvals before they carry out certain work on their home.  If in doubt about what is required, it is best to take professional advice.    

While it is possible to apply to the council for a Certificate of Acceptance after the fact, that Certificate will not always be given and it may not be straightforward.  You might have to make substantial and potentially costly changes to the work before you can obtain such Certificate.  In some cases, this could be as significant as having to redo the work altogether!

Consequences for the Seller

Many home owners are surprised to learn that carrying out work on their home without obtaining the right consent/s can cause the sale of their property to be put at risk.

The consequences of selling a property with unconsented works can be very serious. 

As part of the Agreement for Sale and Purchase of a property, the seller gives a warranty to the buyer that they have obtained the permits and consents required by law, and complied with those in completing works on the property.

If you sell your property and have carried out unconsented works, you would be in breach of that warranty (whether knowingly or unknowingly), and could be liable to pay the buyer compensation. The buyer would also be able to require you to get certification that the work was compliant, at your cost (including any changes you might have to make to the work already done).   

Home owners will save themselves time, money and unnecessary stress by getting any consents that are required before starting work.

Consequences for the Buyer

Anyone looking to buy a property with unconsented works would need to disclose this to both their mortgage and insurance providers.  It can be difficult to obtain finance and/or insurance for a property that has unconsented works.  Banks and insurers are concerned about the potential safety issues that could arise, as well as the unknown future costs and consequences of the unconsented works. 

If you are looking to buy or sell a property that has had unconsented works carried out, seek professional advice about your options.