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Government slashes building industry red tape

Date: 24 March 2008 Media Statement

Embargoed 2pm

Government slashes building industry red tape

Minister for Building and Construction, Shane Jones, today announced plans to slash red tape in the building industry and provide simpler, more flexible consents process for starter homes.

“Less than two months (February 12) after I was directed by the Prime Minister to find ways to end the frustration and delays in the consenting process, I have delivered a plan which I believe will greatly assist the Government’s housing affordability package,” Mr Jones said today.

“My colleague Housing Minister Maryan Street has already announced a revised Welcome Home loans scheme and a shared-equity plan to assist first home buyers which underlines this government’s commitment to the future.

“To ensure we have our eye firmly on the ball as a Government when it comes to making sure we are delivering for the future, yesterday I announced that I will consider looking at proposals in the rental sector to the benefit of both landlords and tenants.”

“Obviously I have on-going concerns that measures to deal with the systemic failures that led to leaky buildings hangover are not undermined. However, there is a case for simplifying and streamlining the consents process.

“To that end I am proposing to do the following”:

• Simplifying the design and approval of simple starter homes through a code of compliance which will improve flexibility of the regulatory framework and reduce costs of building a modest home. This will work provided the proposed design is low risk and on sites that lack high risk features.

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• “Multiple-use” consents for building work that is to be replicated on a large scale with potentially huge efficiencies if developers (Group homes, volume builders) were able to apply for a building consent for a project/dwelling which can be replicated elsewhere within a development/district, region or possibly nationwide. Automatic consent will be given for each replication once the original design is consented.

• Reducing the number of building projects that need a mandatory Project Information Memoranda (PIM) by making a PIM optional for internal renovations that do not alter the building envelope of non-historic buildings. For example, shop fit-outs or removing internal walls to create an open-plan home.

• Reducing the number of building activities that require a building consent based on the level of risk involved, primarily where work is minor.

• Working with local governments to:

1. Investigate the feasibility of a national on-line consenting facility.

2. Explore setting up regional consent processing units to pool expertise and process complex building consents.

3. Look at ways to improve collection and sharing of information on building products and product performance.

In addition, the department will look at the possibility of allowing for ”competent persons” to certify certain aspects of their work as being building code compliant once the Licensed Building Practitioner LBP) scheme is sufficiently bedded down. This could reduce building inspections to the ‘critical few’ for recognised professionals.

“These initiatives to streamline the consenting process are a result of a Government that has been listening and which is now prepared to act,” Mr Jones said.


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