Questions and answers - Demolitions

What is the difference between “deconstruction” and “demolition”

Sometimes it is important to carefully take a building apart for heritage restoration reasons, for identifying victims or for other similar reasons; this process is called “deconstruction”.

In contrast, other buildings may simply need to be taken down for public safety or other reasons and there is limited concern about analysing the building materials or putting them aside for reconstruction; in those cases the buildings are said to be “demolished”.

What does demolition or partial demolition involve?


  • Demolition: the full demolition of a building or structure, including the removal of debris and leveling of the site to ensure ongoing safety.
  • Partial Demolition: the removal of part of a building for immediate safety reasons. This works includes the removal of walls, facades and part structures.
Do commercial buildings outside of the CBD red zone need CERA sign off to demolish?

Commercial buildings outside the CBD red zone are buildings that may still be within the four avenues CBD area (but outside the red zone) or suburban commercial buildings.

The Building Act provides guidance that buildings fulfil this requirement - '...the demolition of all or part of a damaged building that is detached (stand-alone) and is no more than 3 storeys high' - do not require a building consent for demolition.

These commercial building owners (where their buildings fit the requirement of the Building Act) can progress their demolition, usually in partnership with their insurers. However, CERA appreciates being informed when the demolition takes place and requires an oversight over all buildings within the CBD (within the four avenues) in order to ensure safety.

Find out here about Residential Red Zone - On the Move

Do accredited demolition companies in the CBD red zone have salvage rights?

Building Demolition Debris

In most cases, accredited demolition companies have salvage rights to demolition waste. The contracted demolition company is responsible for paying for the disposal of debris and, where that debris has a recoverable value, the demolition company has the right under the demolition contract to keep the proceeds to offset the cost of demolition. 
 
Building Contents

Contents of the building that are lost or destroyed during demolition will become part of the demolition waste.  Building owners have a responsibility to ensure that they contact their tenants to ensure they are aware the building is to be demolished.  Tenants have a responsibility to arrange for the recovery of their property (if safe enough to do so) through the Red Zone Access programme.  

If it is not safe enough to recover tenant property prior to demolition, demolition contractors may be able to do this during the demolition process.  Tenants need to provide a list of items they would like retrieved (if possible) to the building owner (owner managed demolitions) or to the CERA case manager: demolitionenquiries@cera.govt.nz (CERA managed demolitions).  

Building contents do not form part of a demolition contractor’s salvage right.  Items recovered during the demolition process remain the property of the owner.  Where an insurance company has paid out on the contents of a building, the insurer becomes the owner of the contents.  Demolition contractors should contact the building owner (owner managed demolitions) who will contact tenants or the CERA case manager (CERA managed demolitions) for instructions on the disposal of the recovered items.