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Streamlining Building Consent Changes

Hon Chris Penk
Minister for Building and Construction

The Government is making it easier for minor changes to be made to a building consent so building a home is easier and more affordable, Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk says.

“The coalition Government is focused on making it easier and cheaper to build homes so we can rebuild the economy and get Kiwis into homes faster,” Mr Penk says.

“New construction data from Stats NZ released in April shows that it takes around 569 days on average for a home to be built after it receives a building consent.

“This means that, once you account for the time it takes to issue a consent, it takes nearly 600 days to build a house in New Zealand. In the face of a housing and cost of living crisis, this is simply too long.

“Unclear and inflexible regulations add unnecessary time and delays to the build process. Kiwis who need to swap out comparable building products in the event of a shortage must submit a completely new building consent or wait until that specific product becomes available, adding delays and costs onto the build.

“That is why the Government is clarifying the definition of a ‘minor variation’ and introducing ‘minor customisations’ to the Building Act. This will provide more flexibility, which will help reduce delays and lower the cost of building and renovating.

“Building Consent Authorities will still need to assess building work to ensure it complies with the Building Code, but Kiwis won’t need to submit a new consent for minor product or design changes.

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“This will also help increase competition for building products and give effect to the Commerce Commission’s recommendation from its market study into residential building supplies to remove impediments to product substitution and variations.

“These changes are the latest announcement in a comprehensive package of changes to drive down costs and make it easier to build. Recently the Government has moved to:

  • Remove barriers for the use of overseas building products and require councils to accept products that meet international standards which are the same as or higher than those in New Zealand.
  • Bring forward a review of the earthquake prone building legislation and extend remediation deadlines by four years while the review is underway.
  • Exempt small building projects under $65,000 from paying the building levy.
  • Require councils to submit timeframes for building consents applications.
  • Cut more dam red-tape for farmers by raising the height threshold for dam safety regulations from one to four meters.

“These changes are all part of the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy and lower the cost of living so Kiwis can get ahead”.

Notes: 

Stats NZ data can be found here and provides an estimate of construction timelines and completion rates.

New Regulations will be introduced to define minor customisation for Multiproof Certificates. Currently, once a Multiproof is issued by MBIE there cannot be changes to the plans. These regulations will enable minor customisation to be made.

Examples of possible changes to a building consent are:

  • Replacing one brand of a product, such as plasterboard, with a comparable product from a different brand.
  • Putting a window where a door was initially planned.
  • A mirror image of a room’s layout to maximise sunlight or to work in with a specific landscape.

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