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Top five secrets to passing building inspections

25 October 2016

Top five secrets to passing building inspections

If you are planning a building or renovation project for your home, it’s likely you will need to obtain an approved consent before beginning work. The process of gaining a consent and following through to obtain a Code of Compliance Certificate at the end can be daunting, time-consuming and frustrating.

Jeff Fahrensohn, Manager - Inspections for Auckland Council’s Building Control team, says there are some simple things you and your builder can do to save hours, weeks and dollars on building inspections.

Here are his top five secrets to passing building inspections:

1. Make sure you are ready for the building inspection. A lot of contractors are so busy they find it easier to use an inspector to compile a snag list of issues to address. Approximately 80% of all inspection fails can be avoided by having a quality system in place. This doesn’t have to be a complex process, even a quick “once over” to ensure its complete would help save between 15,000 and 20,000 re-inspections. That equates to about $2.5m in fees and 18,000 hours saved.

2. Substituting a product or material, or changing the design, results in a loss of productivity due to the inspector needing to assess and approve the changes. If the change is considered a “minor variation”, then the inspector will try and approve this on site during the inspection. In some cases, they will need to research product compliance and this may delay the approval process. Occasionally, a proposal is bigger than a minor change and needs to be submitted as a full amendment. This will need to go to the processing team to assess, can add weeks onto the process. To reduce possible delays, be sure to discuss these changes with the inspector as early in the process as possible. Something you may find minor like changing the size of a window may end up affecting wall bracing, lintel sizes, ventilation or light requirements, and the like.

3. Keep developing and improving your own technical knowledge particularly if you are working with materials or products you are unfamiliar with. Researching manufacturers’ specifications can often lead to new learnings which may have been missed on site. Take the opportunities to develop professionally by attending conferences, workshops and trade breakfasts whenever possible. Make sure you conduct regular toolbox talks on site to impart this knowledge to your colleagues. Remember that knowing your health and safety obligations will help to protect you both on site and legally.

4. Feel free to ask inspectors questions. They are highly trained and very knowledgeable about the Building Code and are very up-to-date on the latest trends and construction techniques. While the inspectors are always willing to help wherever they can, they must remain impartial and independent so don’t go asking them for their preferred product or builders. In saying that though, in the building game, a little knowledge can save a lot of money so make use of our inspectors and don’t be afraid to ask. If you need to use an interpreter, please use someone who is familiar with building terminology as terms such as studs, nogs and dwangs don’t really translate well in any language.

5. Make sure you have all of your outstanding certificates and other paperwork when applying for the Code Compliance Certificate (CCC). Nearly all CCC requests result in a request for further information which “stops the clock” and delays its issue. Having these documents prepared and available at the final inspection would help the process run much more efficiently. To help you identify what paperwork will be required, inspectors will list these as they are required on their inspection checklists. Another source of these is the Advice notes listed in the Building Consent documentation issued with the plans.


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