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John MacDonald: What's going on at the Christchurch City Council?

Author
John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 Apr 2022, 1:11pm
(Photo / Edward Swift)
(Photo / Edward Swift)

John MacDonald: What's going on at the Christchurch City Council?

Author
John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Tue, 12 Apr 2022, 1:11pm

I’m getting the impression that the Christchurch City Council is really struggling with its workload at the moment. 

Let’s start with building inspections. You may have heard a chap by the name of Peter de Gouw talking to Mike Hosking this morning. He’s from Home Trends Builders, here in Christchurch. 

He was talking about the time it’s taking to get building inspections done on residential building sites. Bear in mind too that this just won’t be new builds – it’ll be renovations as well because inspections are needed for extensions and that sort of thing too. 

Peter de Gouw was saying that, in September/October last year, you could phone up the Christchurch City Council to arrange an inspection and someone would be there in about three days. 

By the end of last year that had gone out to five days. At the start of this year, it was 10 days. And now it’s blown out to seven weeks. 

And that’s a seven-week wait for each inspection. If you’re building a new home, there can be up to 15 inspections and you can only book them in as you go – and so this guy was telling Mike this morning that, if things don’t improve, it could take close to 100 weeks before all the inspections are done. 

His estimate is that could add another $100,000 to the cost of building a house because of holding costs and material costs going through the roof. 

His view is that we need to reduce the number of inspections and even let Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) do some of the inspections themselves. 

Although, let’s remember the cases post-earthquake where even LBPs signed-off work they hadn’t even laid eyes on. I know it happened because I know of a builder here in Christchurch who did that and was hauled before the Building Practitioners Board. 

Nevertheless, you get the gist that the likes of Peter de Gouw and countless other builders, homeowners and other tradies must be tearing their hair out at the time it’s taking to get inspections done by the Christchurch City Council. 

Seven weeks at the moment – per inspection. And if you’re building a new house – up to 15 inspections are needed. And there’s a seven-week wait for each one. It’s just hopeless. 

And then there’s the issue of the time it’s taking the Christchurch City Council to issue building permits. 

We heard yesterday from someone in the building sector who said the statutory requirement for a council to process and approve a building consent application is 20 days. But, at the moment, the Christchurch City Council is taking anywhere up to 70 days.  

70 days to process a building consent and a seven-week wait for building inspections tells me that the Council is brassing a lot of people off at the moment. And it is simply not good enough. 

I’ve got my own council story to tell too. We’re not building or anything but a few months ago council contractors dug up the road and footpath on our street to connect all the houses to the new water system. 

Ever since then, we’ve had water leaking onto our property. You can’t see it above ground but we know it’s happening because we have a pump that’s connected to field drains in the backyard – and there’s water trickling into the pump 24/7 and the pump is pushing water out onto the street. 

We got in touch with the council as soon as we noticed it. They said it’d be resolved by mid-March and here we are in mid-April. I called them up last week and they couldn’t tell me when they’ll be able to get around and have a look. So much for mid-March.  

So, when I heard this morning about the seven-week wait for building inspections, the 70-day blowout for building consent process times and then thought about us waiting weeks and weeks for them to come and have a look at the water situation at our place, I started to get the impression that the Christchurch City Council is well and truly struggling with its workload. 

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