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Detailed plans & trusted tradespeople key to rules


29 March 2005

Detailed plans and trusted tradespeople key to

negotiating new building rules

Auckland City is urging people to spend more time on their construction plans to avoid running into problems with the new Building Act 2004 which comes into effect on Friday.

Accurate plans will limit the need for variations and applying for time-consuming amendments to a building consent, says the council.

“The message is, the consent and inspection process is getting tougher. If you change your mind on what you want during construction or do things before we inspect progress, you could face a failed inspection and experience delays applying for an amendment,” says Councillor Glenda Fryer, chairperson of the council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee.

“The industry and consumers have to be aware that a key feature of the new Act is that the technical assessment of building, both for new projects and renovations, will be more rigorously undertaken. The council will have to charge more for this service, but this will be offset by improved assurance for customers on building quality,” she added.

Councillor Fryer said the overall objective of the new Act was to increase consumer protection by improving the quality of design and construction. All players in the industry had received a wake-up call from the leaky buildings issue.

Principal building officer Bob de Leur said that before people started a project they must do their homework, and ensure their plans are detailed and reflect what they want.

“Experience has taught us that in the past, the council probably placed too much reliance on the building industry to do the right thing. The leaky building experience has shown that this reliance was sometimes misplaced. Under the Act, the council will be less trusting of the skills and judgment demonstrated by the building sector unless they can

show us otherwise through their quality systems.”

Mr de Leur also emphasised that customers must have begun their building project and had a council inspection within 12 months of the building consent being issued and the project completed within 24 months. Under the regulations, a building consent can lapse if work has not started within 12 months. Additionally, a certificate of code compliance must be applied for within 24 months of the consent being granted.

The new rules apply to a new building, additions or internal or external alterations to a property. The whole industry is affected including developers, architects, designers, draughtsmen, builders and sub-contractors, owners, public involved in home renovations, and realtors.

Some changes were introduced in November 2004 when the Building Industry Authority was dissolved and responsibility for central regulation shifted to the Department of Building and Housing.

It became an offence for a residential property developer to complete the sale of a household unit or allow the purchaser possession unless a certificate of code compliance has been issued or both parties agreed otherwise in writing.

From 1 April, other main changes include:

- building levy increased from $0.65 to $1.97 per $1000 on building work over $20,000. Consents uplifted after 31 March will be charged at the new rate, regardless of when the application was lodged

- other new fee structures applied by the council

- new forms, including application forms

- more detailed information will be required with a Project Information Memorandum (PIM) application, particularly site levels and contours

- some building consent applications will be sent to the Fire Service for comment

- a 20-day timeframe to issue a certificate of code compliance from the time a customer applies for one to be issued

- owners will be able to apply for amendments to their compliance schedule.

From 30 November 2009, applications for building consents will have to include a list of the licensed building practitioners involved in the project. This will curtail the activities of do-it-yourselfers wanting to do their own property upgrades that require a consent unless they can get a licensed building practitioner to oversee the work.

Full details of changes under the Building Act 2004 are available on www.building.govt.nz and www.consumerbuild.org.nz, a joint initiative of the Department of Building and Housing and Consumers’ Institute.


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