Building on a rural site

Building on a rural site has its own unique challenges and some differences.

Effluent fields

You may need to provide site specific effluent field design and fencing of the effluent field.  It is important to carefully plan where you position your effluent field as this area will require some kind of permanent fence. In addition, you will need approval from ECan.

Information regarding the fencing of effluent fields can be found in the fact sheet 'Fencing of Effluent Field Options'.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has advised the Council that houses with rooms labelled as 'study', 'office', or other rooms that may potentially be used as bedrooms, shall be considered as bedrooms for the purposes of calculating volume of discharge for a domestic effluent disposal system’s design.

As an example a '4-bedroom plus study' dwelling should, for the purposes of effluent disposal design, be considered as a 5-bedroom home. The argument put forward for this by ECan is that their approval is for the life of the system and should there be a sale of the property or circumstances change resulting in the 're-purposing' of a study or office into a bedroom, that the DEDS will still be compliant. Under AS/NZS 1547 (On-site Domestic Wastewater Management) section 5.3 the 'relevant authority' (ECan) have discretion to determine requirements.

ECan are going to be amending their application documents soon to provide some clarity and guidance as to what this means and how this will be applied and considered when consenting domestic effluent disposal systems.If you have any questions relating to the application of this decision please refer to ECan for guidance.


Depending on the location of your job, you may need to provide a site specific stormwater design due to the underlying soil permeability; some soils don’t support a soak pit and you may be required to install swales or ponds for your stormwater disposal or other specifically designed systems. Council staff are able to advise you about what is permissible for your site.  In some areas barns and sheds can be constructed with no stormwater system if more than 10 m away from boundaries.

Potable water

Where a private well is installed, you will need to provide full water test (Chemical and Microbiological) results to Council to show you have a potable water supply. This must be the Waimakariri District Council suite of testing. 

Tests carried out by an IANZ registered laboratory shall demonstrate whether the chemical and bacteriological water quality complies with the guideline values set out in the publication, ‘New Zealand Standard Drinking Water 2005 (revised 2008)’.

Where the initial water test results show potable water supply a second water (Microbiological) result needs to be provided to Council prior to issue of the Code Compliance Certificate or before occupation occurs, whichever happens first. Please note that if the time elapsed between the original test and this second test is greater than 18 months a full water test (Chemical and Microbiological) will be required.

If the water is not potable you will need to show how the water will be treated as part of the building consent application.

In such circumstances and before you reside in the dwelling you will need to supply Council a further full water test (Chemical and Microbiological) to confirm the treatment system is delivering potable water.

We recommend you carry out an annual Microbiological test to maintain the integrity of your supply.


It is also important to carefully consider earthworks around your house – you must ensure a secondary flow path for water run-off around your dwelling is maintained in any flooding conditions that may occur.

Solid fuel burners

In most rural sites over 2 ha you are allowed to install most types of solid fuel burners, but check with the Council to ensure your site is one of these.

Second dwellings

You are able to build a small dwelling (less than 75 m2) on site to live in while you are building the main house and you may retain both as dwellings. See the fact sheet 'Secondary Dwellings (granny flats)' for rules on this. NB: In most cases it is not permissible to live permanently in a caravan while you build your house.

Multiple buildings

You can apply to build as many buildings on one title as you like as long as you intend to complete all of them and obtain a code compliance certificate within two years of issue of the consent, e.g. house and barn.

Pump sheds

You can build a pump shed without consent as long as it complies with planning rules, is less than 10 m2 and complies with the Building Code.


You will need to have vehicle access formed into the garage for code compliance certificate.