Government scraps building consents for small projects

Author
Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 25 May 2020, 10:03AM
The Government has scrapped the need for consent for a variety of small projects around the home. (Photo / File)
The Government has scrapped the need for consent for a variety of small projects around the home. (Photo / File)

Government scraps building consents for small projects

Author
Belinda Feek, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 25 May 2020, 10:03AM

The Government has scrapped some red-tape for DIYers after ruling people no longer need consent for a variety of small projects around the home.

Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa today announced the scrapping of "low risk building work", which includes sleep-outs, sheds, greenhouses, carports, awnings and water storage bladders, which will save Kiwis up to $18 million a year.

However, Salesa added that the work must still meet the Building Code.

The announcement has the support of the NZ Construction Industry Council who say axing red-tape was good as long as it didn't compromise the quality of the work.

Salesa hoped the change would allow the construction sector to fire back up quicker on larger projects to provide jobs and assist the country's recovery from Covid-19.

"These changes will save New Zealanders time and money and mean councils can focus on higher-risk building work, boosting the building and construction sector in the Covid-19 recovery," Jenny Salesa said.

"Some of the new exemptions will utilise the Licensed Builder Practitioners scheme, which recognises the competence of these practitioners and allows them to join chartered professional engineers and certifying plumbers in having their own suite of exemptions.

The changes mean those looking to do building work that was exempt wouldn't have to apply or pay for a building consent to do the work.

There wouldn't be regular council inspections on work progress, and, overall, there would be less red tape to navigate.

"These exemptions are just one part of my broader building system reform programme, which includes Construction Sector Accord Transformation Plan, the Construction Skills Action Plan, and Building Law reforms," Salesa said.

Most of the new exemptions are expected to commence at the end of August, after the necessary changes to the Building Act have been made.

Graham Burke, chair of the NZCIC said it was good news.

"On the surface of it it seems like a good idea.

"The important thing is that there's no intention to drop standards, that work that needs to be completed by a licensed building practitioner or registered electrician still remains and any work that requires a consulting engineer still has to be designed by a consulting engineer.

"It just takes away that compliance side of it, so we are definitely in favour of dropping compliance but we're not in favour of dropping standards. If we can do one without the other then it's a good thing."

He said the residential building sector was going to face a few issues in light of Covid-19 this year with the downturn of consumer confidence so anything that helped get it going with fewer costs was positive.

"The main thing here is that they're not saying it's open slather, go out and build anything up to 40sqm or 30sqm, it's saying that you don't necessarily have to go and get a permit for that."

THE CHANGES

Building work exempted under the package includes:

• Single-storey detached buildings up to 30sq m;

• Carports with a maximum floor area of 40sq m;

• Awnings with a maximum size of 30sq m;

• Verandas and porches with a maximum size of 30sq m;

• Outdoor fireplaces or ovens;

• Flexible water storage bladders for irrigation and firefighting only, up to 200,000 litres in storage capacity;

• Short-span bridges on private land without public access;

• Pipe supporting structures;

• Ground-mounted solar array panels in rural zones and outside rural zones;

• Detached single-storey pole sheds and hay barns.