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Jones slashes red tape with building blueprint

11 June 2008

Jones slashes red tape with building blueprint plan

Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones has announced today that he has slashed the red tape in the building Industry with a new blueprint plan for simple starter homes.

"In March I announced plans to make the consents process for starter homes simpler and more flexible and today I am pleased to announce that as promised, I have taken the chainsaw to the red tape," Mr Jones said.

He told the Colliers International Conference in Auckland that the blueprint compliance document, approved by Cabinet this week, represents an innovative step change towards encouraging the market to produce more modest, affordable homes. He added the blueprint was now available for public consultation.

"It brings together all the technical and compliance information needed to build a standard, simple, low-cost home. It represents a 'horizontal cut' across the entire Building Code in a way that has not been provided before," Mr Jones said.
"As such, this blueprint represents a first for New Zealand and provides a useful prototype for future, similar Compliance Documents dealing with whole building types.

"The blueprint for simple housing focuses on the “three Ss”: standardisation, simplification and size. There is strong evidence from the sector that the absence of all three is contributing to affordability problems.
For example, a great majority of new homes in New Zealand are highly customised, one-off projects which undermine efficiency, makes pre-fabrication difficult and increases costs. Sizes of homes, as well as their design and technical complexity, have also increased with changing population and market trends."

He said, the average size of a new home is now more than 200 m2, twice the historical size for “starter” homes and that this Government wants to demonstrate that simple, standardised homes are possible without undermining appeal or amenity.

Mr Jones said the Department of Building and Housing had commissioned independent surveys to determine that affordable homes were a real possibility under the new blueprint.

"I can also report that independent costing by a group developer has confirmed that an affordable home could be delivered using this Compliance Document with a total build cost within $1,400 per m2 (including GST) for a 120 m2 house, or $168,000 total cost. This includes double glazing, floor coverings and allowances for services connections of $9, 000," Mr Jones said.

"I hope by facilitating the design and consenting for simple, modest homes we are able to send a signal to the market that will encourage construction of more affordable homes."

The document also incorporates a number of sustainability features, such as energy efficient hot water systems, good insulation, the optional use of rainwater collection systems and solar water heating which should help lighten the burden of liability on the building sector.
Together with other supporting initiatives such as multi-use consents, it is anticipated that increased volume of modest homes will improve the supply of affordable houses through increased efficiency of the building process and economies of scale.

"While these alone will not solve all the Housing Affordability issues, they are a good start in improving processes and reducing costs for building simple starter homes."

Mr Jones also announced an extension of the list of building work that does not require a building consent (Schedule 1 of the Building Act) such as:

- removal/alteration of a wall that is non load-bearing and not a bracing element

- alterations of dwellings for access purposes, including doorway modifications and access ramps, but excluding wet area accessible shower

- internal shop or office fit out where the work does not modify, or require modifications to, any specified system or means of escape from fire

- increasing from 30m² to 100m² the size limit of tents and marquees where they are for private use and to 50 m² when they are intended for public assembly.
These changes have been highly anticipated by the Building and Construction sector and further demonstrate this Government's commitment to cut regulatory costs and increase flexibility.


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