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Building near overhead lines

Planning to build or extend? Know the rules around building near power lines. 

What is NZECP34?

New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances

Whether you’re a property developer, architect, surveyor, builder, scaffolder, roofer – or even a homeowner putting up a fence, sign, a marquee or laying a driveway – it’s important to know your legal obligations around building and working near power lines and power poles.

The purpose of NZECP34 is to protect people, property, vehicles and mobile plant from the risk of electrocution, serious injury and expensive damages or remedial works.

Confirming compliance with NZECP34 in the early stages of your planning is a must to ensure work near power lines and power poles can be done safely and to avoid any disruption to your plans or additional costs, such as changing architectural plans or relocating overhead power lines later.

As a result of Auckland Unitary Plan Change 78 you need to be more diligent about maintaining a safe distance for your planned construction. It is now even more important to know your obligations under NZECP34.

Remember: an approved resource or building consent does not necessarily mean compliance with NZECP34.
NZECP34 covers all types of building and excavation - permanent or temporary - near power poles and lines, including but not limited to:
  • houses/buildings
  • Using scaffolding 
  • Portable buildings and marquees
  • Building fences
  • Digging/laying a driveway
  • Raising ground levels
  • Erecting signs
  • Artificial shelter belts and canopies

All work must be a safe distance away from overhead lines. Please refer to NZECP34, table 2 for the distances that apply at at points ‘X’ and ‘Y’ in the diagram below in different circumstances.

Failure to comply with NZECP34 could lead to prosecution by WorkSafe

Your obligations under NZECP34:
  • You must ensure that structures such as garages and extensions to houses remain well clear of overhead lines as set down by NZECP34, table 2 (set out below).

  • NZECP34 has set down minimum distances allowed between any new buildings/structures and overhead lines.

  • The minimum safe distances differ depending on the voltage of the overhead lines.

  • If you need to build closer to overhead lines, they will need to be moved or placed underground before you start construction.


- When you plan to work near overhead lines you must follow the minimum safe distances as set down by NZECP34.

- Follow the 4.0 metre rule: All work activity must be kept at least 4.0 metres from overhead lines. If you need to work closer to our overhead lines, you must apply for a Close Approach Consent before starting construction.

- ​​Do not dig within 5.0 metres of one of our power poles without a close approach consent.

- Excavations within 5.0 metres could cause the pole to collapse! We will provide guidance and, in some instances this may be on-site.

- Reminder: materials excavated become the new point of measurement to line.

For more information / other resources:

  • Contact Vector on 0508 VECTOR (0508 832 867)
  • Speak to your building professionals e.g. Surveyor


Other contacts:

Dan McLeely

Power Solutions Ltd
Edwin de Beun

Kristian Jensen

Alex Aramakutu

© Vector Limited 2023. The information provided on this page is guidance of a general nature only. It is not intended to address specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Information provided is not professional or legal advice. Specific advice should be sought from qualified professionals in respect of your own situation. Vector makes no warranties, guaranties or undertakings as to the accuracy, completeness, reliability, adequacy or completeness of the information contained on this page.

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