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Installing a Solid Fuel Heater

What is required for installing a solid fuel heater?

A building consent is required for a solid fuel heater whether installing a new one or replacing or moving an existing one.

The building consent must state whether the solid fuel heater is new or second-hand.

If the solid fuel heater is being installed as part of either a new dwelling or alterations and renovations, the building consent needs to have the specifications, installation details, a floor plan showing where it is going, and seismic and flashing details.

You will need to supply Council with:

  • two full sets of floor plans showing position of SFH and alarm locations
  • the roof type
  • details of the chimney flashings in accordance with E2 AS1 of the NZ Building Code
  • details of flue clearances where it penetrates floors and roofs
  • detail of seismic restraint
  • the model of fire being installed needs to be included in the description of the work

If you are applying for a building consent to install a pre-owned fire, it must be accompanied by a report from a member of the Home Heating Association stating that it is suitable to install and meets the emissions regulations.

You may also need to install extra smoke alarms.

Approved installation

Solid fuel heaters (freestanding or inbuilt) can create a fire hazard if incorrectly installed.  Many insurance companies will not pay out after a fire if the heater was incorrectly installed, or put in place without a building consent.

Only approved wood burners are allowed to be installed under regulations which came in on 1 Sept 2005 for residential properties.  A list of compliant woodburners is available on the Ministry for the Environment website.

The Home Heating Association has created a list of approved installers. You are not required to use a registered installer, but it is recommended. 

Ministry for the Environment - authorised wood burners


Council will inspect solid fuel heaters.  A copy of the specifications must be with the fire when inspections are done so that the inspector can refer to it. Different makes/models have different specifications.

  • Freestanding heaters should be installed before inspection but the ceiling plate needs to be left loose so ceiling clearances can be checked.
  • Inbuilt heaters should not to be in place before inspection as the inspector needs to check that the existing fireplace and chimney are in a safe condition before installation.

Outdoor fire places

You do not need building consent for an enclosed fireplace outside, as long as it is 1.5 metres from the boundary and no more than two metres in total height (i.e. the height including the chimney).

Last Reviewed: 28/03/2017