Building Act changes

March 25th, 2008 at 12:12 pm by David Farrar

National is warning that proposed changes to building consents, such as one consent for a development, may lead to “ticky-tack” suburbs with identical house designs.

While it is a fair criticism, I have to say that overall I find the proposals by to be a move in the right direction.

Especially welcome is the proposal to change the regulations so that minor alterations – such as moving a window, door or toilet – no longer required a building consent.

The devil is in the detail, but the Jones proposals look to be the first serious move to start reducing consent costs, after eight years of increasing them. Better late than never, and I think the changes are worth supporting.  That of course depends on the exact details.

Tags: , , ,

43 Responses to “Building Act changes”

  1. Right of way is Way of Right (1,125 comments) says:

    Credit when due indeed. This is a step in the right direction, but as it negates only those laws brought in by Labour in the first place I can only ask why this was not sorted out in the first place. When the Labour Govt introduced the new laws, it was stated that the net effect would bt to raise compliance costs, kill the kiwi DIY ethic and drive NZ builders overseas. Now that the original critics have been proved right, the Labour government FINALLY listen to the industry experts!!

    Now, have the leaky homes been fixed yet, after all, that is what the legislation was prompted by. They have had 9 years already!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. george (398 comments) says:

    Jones’ proposals will lead to Soviet-style neighbourhoods, where we all live in the same “approved” houses. Next he’ll make us wear boilersuits. Shame on you for supporting him.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    Speaking for myself, I’d be willing to accept row upon row of identical houses as long as they were affordable. We face a housing crisis… I don’t care if the solution isn’t pretty, as long as it actually is a solution! Now that being said I think that Jones’ proposals, while a step in the right direction are way too timid, and should be criticised on those grounds. But saying it won’t look pretty is not really a starter, IMO.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    Fair concern raised but there seem to be a number of similar designs already in use through the various building companies – it seems daft that they need a new code compliance or whatever stamp is required for each one. On first blush I think that it is more positive than negative.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. george (398 comments) says:

    “saying it won’t look pretty is not really a starter”

    This is a socialist attitude. Soulless utilitarianism trumping joyous eudaimonia. We do not live to be battery hens. But that is the implicit assumption behind Jones’ plan.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Bob (442 comments) says:

    I can’t quite understand why National are against it with what seems to be a knee jerk reaction. I have been reasonably impressed with Shane Jones but feel he is in the wrong party.

    As far as the house designs are concerned if a large company has several set designs they can be intermingled for variety. That assumes the company has a complete subdivision to itself.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    We need row upon row of identicle houses. It makes us feel good when we are all the same. We could all drive the same model car, live in identicle houses and wear the same grey overalls. Ain’t socialism wonderful !

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Phil Heatley obviously hasn’t driven past Papamoa recently!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    There is no need for the approval of a building system to lead to rows of identical buildings.
    For example if you buy a Totalspan farm shed the consent process is easy because they have done all the engineering calculations and then the buildings are variations on that engineering “theme”. When I was in the INdustrialised Building System team in the early seventies this is exactly what we were proposing. Manufactured homes all built to a systems standard which enabled wide variations by different configurations of the kit of parts.
    This allows the benefits of mass production to be applied to building whereas at present every building (be it a Lockwood or an absolute one off) is treated as an individual application. The car manufacturers have adopted modular manufacture for years. Imagine how much a car would cost if each one needed a permit from council.
    I can guess that each car would cost 300,000, would weight two tonnes for safety, have a maximum speed of 30 kph, and would do ten kilos per litre. Shane brings much common sense and management skill to his portfolio and he should proceed with this as a first step towards getting the whole building consent process onto a more market oriented approach using insurance and guarantees and releasing councils of liabillity. Something more akin to the marine industry. When did you hear of a leaky boat syndrome?
    You do not need a consent to build a boat. And yet we make boats here and export them all over the world. What makes a 150,000 house so different to a 150,000 boat – and which poses the greater risk to the occupants?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    This is a socialist attitude. Soulless utilitarianism trumping joyous eudaimonia. We do not live to be battery hens. But that is the implicit assumption behind Jones’ plan.

    So you’re saying people should be forced to pay a premium for visually distinctive houses? The need for a house isn’t about urban beautification, it’s about having a place to call your own.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. slightlyrighty (2,448 comments) says:

    Why are we going through consent prcesses for buildings? Wouldn’t it make more sense to regulate builders? Isn’t that why the private sector came up with the Master Builders federation?

    Think about it. When a builder starts up in business, his first house is rigourously inspected. If it comes up to scratch, great! If not, the regulating body says what needs to happen, makes sure it does and lets the builder know that the next house built will also be rigourously inspected until the work carried out is up to standard.

    When that standard is reached, that builder is largely left alone but random inspections (say 1-2 per year?) will be carried out, either by state or state sanctioned private institutions to ensure standards are being kept. Failure to maintain standards wil result in the builder having to undertake re-certification.

    This should result in less staff required to inspect compliance, less compliance cost, and the benefits of professionalism being passed on in lower compliance costs. Surely the cost of gaining certification would be less than the 30K currently quoted as the compliance cost per dwelling? And if that cost is spread over all home built by that builder, then that builder, by virtue of his own professionalism, can build good houses cheaper than a builder who is struggling to be certified.

    How hard is that?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    Slightyrighty, that’s going way too far. If the builder is crap, nobody will buy his houses. Simple really. No need for the creaky-floor police.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Chris Diack (723 comments) says:

    I find Shane Jones pompous – he tries to convey intelligence by using obtuse words and complex sentences. The greatest orators never sacrifice clarity for artifice.

    However at least he is moving in a tiny way on the housing costs issue.

    Owen McShane is right. Can’t see what the Nats are on about regarding the ticky-tacky houses. The real socialism is the smart growth stuff including the metropolitan urban growth limit. It’s driven by a notion about an idealised (read uniform) ways of living.

    Here is another suggestion to drive down the costs of building consents and resource consents. Insist on full TLA cost recovery, and prevent them from acting as a cartel (subject them to competition laws) and then allow applicants to go to any TLA to get their consents. After all, the planning professionals are all similarly trained, as are the consultants (who appear before multiple TLA’s as can independent Hearings Commissioners). And remember all appeals go to the one Court and the Building Act applies to all TLA’s it’s only their plans that differ. And if a planning professional cannot read the plan of another TLA then there is something wrong with the plans.

    This would drive down costs and spread potential liability when TLA’s are the pocket’s of last resort for faulty buildings. It would stop labour issues issues delaying consents.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    I think both sides are wrong on this one. I think they should be able to get bulk resource concents for the same house design, but they should be barred form putting in a sub division with only that design applied to every house, maybe have a rider on it that they must have at least four different designs per development, or at least something saying they cannot repeat that design on every second house. Obviously this wouldnt apply to town houses though…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. JC (838 comments) says:

    We are starting the process at the wrong end, and with the wrong priorities. The priorities should be to build a house that meets national and local authorities standards and the consent process should be geared around maximum efficiency and cheapness. Here’s how you do it:

    Stipulate a total cost of $1000 per section and house for the consent process and a total of ten working days for approvals.
    Now design your consents process around those two parameters.

    To do it, the authorities must produce a book that contains all details of requirements and give it to every prospective house owner, architect and builder. Then all thats needed is to submit to the Council the plans for the proposed new section and house with all the boxes in the book ticked off. The plans must be approved or rejected in ten working days; and any innovation that is not in the Council’s book must be approved, albeit with a caveat noted on the approval, that protects the Council and other potential buyers in the future and leaves the responsibility for the innovation with the builder and the prospective house owner. So that’s the approval process.

    As the section and house building proceeds, the authorities visit a prescribed number of times to inspect the work.

    Can it be done for $1000? Yes, because every new house represents another rate payment of $1500-2500 per annum and you’ve already massively streamlined the consent process as suggested.

    JC

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    Things started to turn bad when the National govt of the late 50′s repealed the law that restricted how big a house could be. Life was much easier when everybody had the same size house and nobody earned too much and nobody earned too little.

    Give people choices and they stuff it up – we need a great leap backward – Oh that’s right – we have been having one for the last 8 years.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. JC (838 comments) says:

    Wrong priorities and wrong principles.. that’s the problem.

    For the moment, lets stick with the laughable notion that people who take $2000 off you each year for rates and over 50% of your income are competent to regulate building houses and developing sections. The first thing we should require is they stick our money where their mouths are.. let them produce a book called “Your New House And Section”. In it they put all their regulations and requirements for houses and sections and they distribute it for free within say, the next six months.. yeah, I said it was laughable.

    Next, we allow them just $1000 per house for the consent process and ten working days for approval of each house. Now all the developer/builder/owner needs to do is submit plans that cover each of the requirements in the book. If all the boxes are ticked, then the Council approves it. Innovations are always approved because they are *not* proscribed in the book, but they have a caveat to protect the authority and possible future purchasers. The builder and houseowner are responsible for the innovations and any benefits/problems down the line. A prescribed number of inspections are made to ensure compliance with the book.

    Can it be done for $1000? Yep, each new house brings in another $2000 in rates every year to the Council, and we’ve already massively cut the costs of the bureaucracy.

    JC

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    Interesting and salient comment Owen.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. peterquixote (231 comments) says:

    Resource Management Act changes Farrar we waited a decade for the bloody NAT to do this, Hugh Pavletich down here telling common sense about House building and prices at you NAT hear nothing no wonder people join Green
    Simon Upton onward NAT were bloody useless, now LABOUR do it for you dreamer NAT
    yous all get shot when I king,but that a little way off yet,

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. baxter (893 comments) says:

    The first street built under the system might be called Coronation Street.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Fred (176 comments) says:

    Agreed Shane Jones is very capable, one assumes that there will be a range of plans, colours etc, so it should be no worse than a typical suburb of McMansions we already have. I also suggest, as commented on the other housing affordability thread, that 10% of state houses should be sold each year for at least the next five years (and replaced with new ones) and that additional houses (a similar number) should be built and sold on the open market at cost plus standard margins.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Oswald Bastable (32 comments) says:

    And they are all made out of Tiki-taki- and they all look all the same.

    So can the frickin’ RMA!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    I haven’t read any posts above, but imho the criticism mde of ticky tacky is crappola. Repitition of design exists in every human community. It is how it is done. Nothing will change on that fron in NZ. That criticism has nought to do with this proposal.

    It is interesting though – because where this proposal effectively leads is to commonality of design not requiring separate consents each time. Which makes toital sense. Some sort of a code for similar parts of a house design, e.g. foundation design (pile, concrete, etc), roof structure, wall structure. THE THING IS – this code for similar design already exists effectively in the building code of old.

    What Shane Jones is proposing is effectively allowing people to build by a building code rather than reinvent the building code with each new house. This is how it used to be!

    Ha ha ha ha ha, round and round in circles we go. They change the law and now they change it back again. ha ha ha ha. Dunno why we have politicians and bureaucrats to the extent we do. What a bloody waste

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    vto

    Owen McShane made a very similar comment earlier in the thread. (Which as you say you didn’t read – you may want to now)

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/03/building_act_changes.html#comment-426247

    The state houses of old were very much half a dozen designs which were repeated again and again. There is nothing wrong with this in real terms. There is however one significant issue that is being overlooked. A single consent for a single design would need to have allowances for the site the house is being built on. Even if the ground is flat there are differences from flat site to flat site, hilly sites (which a lot of ‘new release’ land will be) need special consideration.

    So sure, great idea, and it worked well in through to 50′s and 60′s when vast tracks of flat land were being built on and when society was very conformist, but in todays market I think having a “state house” standard is not a smart idea at all.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    Burt cheers, but there are plenty of ‘standard’ things in a house design which have nothing to do with appearance. Examples – the fixings around a window, how a wall is attached to a floor (several for the several main variations). All these can just be ‘the code’ and thats the way they are done – nationwide. Doesn’t have to be an entire house. Just the components.

    As for differing ground conditions – sure, that is one of the only areas that would be particular to each consent. So when you’re building one of these undoubetdly style-soaked (serious) reptitilian homes you take one of their sets of plans and your individual foundation/floor plans to the council and away you go. That would be a lot cheaper and a lot easier. And you could also be pretty sure that any faults in that reptitilian design would get ironed out pretty smartly. = equals less leaky homes. = less cost. = less stress. = less consultants. = hopefully easier all round..

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    vto

    You have pretty much described how Lockwood homes has operated for decades. Many other building companies also operate this way. They have a set of preferred pre priced plans and the buyer makes a few choices like fittings, colour, etc. The marked desire for individuality has driven the building process away from this tried and tested method, but not entirely.

    This actually illustrates how expectations are also driving the housing market. 40 years ago people didn’t care too much that the house they had was like the one next door, they were just grateful they owned a house rather than rented. The equation is not that simple today. Expectations now include a double garage with internal access, a guest room, an ensuit in the master and some form of central heating. It’s no wonder that many people can’t afford a house, they want too much, close to town, close to public transport, close to schools and close to work. First home buyers didn’t use to care too much that they had to buy in the outer suburbs, they always planned to buy their way in. Renting has lost the stigma it had 30 years ago. There is more to this than simply rising costs, expectations have risen, appliances have multiplied. There is a lot more to consider today than there was 50 years ago when gangs of builders banged out thousands of plan A, B or C.

    The building code is rich with standards, methods etc. Take a look at the average set of plans for a house, 5 or 6 pages of drawings… drawings… remember builders work from drawings, engineers specify drawings, architects design drawings and council consent folk check it against the standards. Something as complex as a house reduced to a few pages of pictures…

    Perhaps the govt could publish some detailed build plans which if followed correctly will get full council consent. These could be published on a govt web site, download your plans, build it (perhaps yourself) and get it certified.

    Now that would slash building costs for people that simply wanted to own a home, now where should we build these boring towns?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    vto

    And don’t think there is any originality in this plan.

    Beazley Homes Ltd

    By 1975 Beazley Homes produced in excess of 1500 homes a year in New Zealand. Throughout New Zealand there were 80 “Beazley” accredited franchise builders who were provided with services such as draughting, estimating and managerial advice. The planned residential developments included Grenada and Paparangi in Wellington, Maungatapu in Tauranga and Golflands Estate in Mount Maunganui. The company had their own display village at Mangere.

    In 1977 Beazley Homes Ltd built and equipped a factory for large scale manufacture of relocatable accommodation units. The plant was located at Mt. Mauganui had the capacity to produce 40 units a week for export.

    In 1992 Beazley Homes Ltd changed its name to Fletcher Homes Ltd

    Looks to me like the govt has reinvented the Beazley box to solve affordability, all they need to do now is tackle consumer expectations.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. redbus (106 comments) says:

    Shane Jones is the man!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. John Dalley (394 comments) says:

    Beazley, Universal, Keith Hay, Etc all have/had several home designs that they used. Look through any reasonably sized housing development and you will see a similarity of design that would suggest that some short cutting of the consent process could be acheived.
    What i don’t agree with though is any suggestion that builders should self regulate. It hasn’t worked in the past and i don’t expect it will in the future.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Fred (176 comments) says:

    There’s actually any number of builders today (A1, Keith Hay) that will build a house for under $200K today. Shaving 30 to 50K off the total price including a section is great but who is going to build a suburb of similar $300K houses and who would buy there, given the chance it will go downhill.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. JC (838 comments) says:

    As near as I can tell, there’s a gigantic rort going on here. For every new house that gets built, the authorities get say $20-40,000 in approving consents and compliance costs. Once the house is built they get a ratepayer paying $1500-2000 per annum and a family likely to spend $20-50,000 pa in the town on services, food etc. The town and community gets the value of the new family’s productivity and expertise, future new citizens who will cohabit and produce new families and a need for more houses and services.

    So, in the first year of a new home the authorities get a one off payment of $20-40,000, plus an ongoing money supply into the town of up to $50,000 plus employment of planners and builders. In return the new home owner gets up to $2000 pa of services from his local authority. That’s an enormously lopsided and ongoing bargain.

    If you want to move your business to Australia, you’ll be met at Sydney airport, taken to a site thats already surveyed and with consents in place, plus any workers you take over will get IIRC, a $12,000 relocation allowance. In the US, there are (or were) places where the section is surveyed and free, and you got a choice of pre-approved house designs. These are two examples of places where the value of new houses and homeowners is/was recognised, where the authorities paid *you* to come and live there and the welcome mat was really rolled out. That’s the value of people to a community.

    The way it is here, it’s almost as if we hate newcomers and force them to pay a toll of tens of thousands to live in our town and then completely ignore their ongoing value once they settle. That’s weird.

    JC

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. Waymad (136 comments) says:

    Having helped to build houses since I was 8, I have a fair idea about standards etc. Don’t need ‘em. Having renovated several old monstrosities, have seen how little you can get away with in terms of bits of wood pointing upwards. They were built in a total absence of planning, external standards, and national codes. Still standing. And when was the last time we had a death from a house falling in on its occupants?

    Planners and their ilk add cost but no value. As Wren’s memorial says, ‘Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice’. Can’t say that about the current crop of planners…..oh wait, Flatbush.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. Lance (2,309 comments) says:

    I hate to state the bleeding obvious here……..
    The problem is not the cost of the houses, it’s the land!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The communist state of Waitakere has declared no more expansion despite a growing population. Many other areas the same. That’s why houses are cheap in small towns, land is cheap there.
    A few thousand dollars here and there for approvals won’t make any real difference at all, the cost of housing is massively beyond first home buyers.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    True Lance true. The thread was about the building act though.

    One other aspect of the ‘create more land’ part of the debate …. The idea is, zone more land for houses and the supply and demand equation becomes a bit more even and prices come down. All good. The other way to do it is to re-zone in many areas to allow for greater density and height limits. That also brings down the cost of ‘land’ per household.

    Problem is the nimby syndrome. Nobody really wants apartment blocks starting to go up next to them.

    Extended problem is – nobody wants suburbs stretching forever over their back fence, or apartments right next to them.

    Answer is – tough everybody. Shuffle over and let the expanding population encroach on your piece of paradise and stop being selfish.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. Buggerlugs (1,609 comments) says:

    Jones’ proposals are just another example of Labour pushing ahead with legislation under the ‘shoot first, fix it later’ philosophy. Had they done a proper consultation process, rather than knee-jerk, under the changes to the Building Act, we wouldn’t need Jones’ plans. Idiots.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    Agree Buggerlugs. I said similar above – change the law and then change it back again – ha ha ha. This labour government has a history of poorly formed legislation which has come about through politics taking the lead on each issue and lack of consultation with those in the know. All quite arrogant.

    Result = poor governance and poor legislation.

    But oh sure = very good politicians. yes yes. clap clap. (somebody remind me how being very good at ‘politics’ = a use to joe public?)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    Actually, if the Totalitarian Left REALLY got their way, we’d end up living in high-rise blocks of concrete flats adjacent to railway stations and we wouldn’t own or drive cars at all…………

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. llew (1,532 comments) says:

    and we wouldn’t own or drive cars at all…………

    Well you wouldn’t need to would you.

    :)

    PS, I have a 2nd hand horse & cart going cheap.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    ha ha, so true philbest and llew.

    tangent to this thread – cars are not actually the problem, it is the conbustion engine which powers them and its effects which is the problem (enviro)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. llew (1,532 comments) says:

    And I was just thinking too, if there’s no rain soon there won’t be any fuel for my horse & cart.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  41. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    In the late 1800s there was a serious and pressing environmental problem that arose from transportation similar to today. Namely that at the then current rate of horse and cart growth in the western world, within 50 years the entire surface of the planet was going to be covered in 6 ft of horse shit. Ha ha

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  42. peterquixote (231 comments) says:

    that horse thing what yous mention there Ilew, what him look like Ilew,
    do he train up well, carry reasonable weight,
    I dont want a girl horse Ilew, I want a boy horse who bite bad persons
    and mn thing like that, and like how much do he cost,

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  43. PhilBest (5,112 comments) says:

    Keep it up vto, I love it. But seriously, how many people understand that every new technological advance in transport has solved more human health problems than it has created? Horse shit caused MUCH more human death in its day than vehicle exhaust ever has.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.