Master Builders says construction consent system is ‘broken’

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The building permits system is “broken” and underperforming councils should face penalties or even lose their certification, says the Registered Master Builders Association.

A building under construction in Wellington
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

In July, the government announced it would seek feedback on the consents regime – on everything from the design phase of the building to the issuance of a code compliance certificate – as part of the reforms.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has also published a discussion paperidentifying what he considers to be “four desirable outcomes” for the system as well as the problems.

Master Builders chief executive David Kelly said the association hailed the review as an opportunity to fix a system hampered by “a cautious approach”, inefficiencies, inconsistencies and underinvestment in technology, which resulted in “delays and high costs for owners and builders”. “.

“With changes focused on efficiency, consistency, risk-based approaches, innovation and competition, the consent system can become an enabler of delivery and innovation rather than serving as a bottleneck. ‘strangling.’

In its submission to the review, Master Builders recommended a “streamlining” of the country’s 67 competent authorities, developing consistent standards and streamlining processes to recognize “lower risk” builds and the levels of expertise of contractors. builders.

MBIE needed to exercise its regulatory powers to give boards less leeway in how they interpreted regulations and applied penalties or revoked accreditation if they failed to meet legal deadlines, Kelly said.

There was a “reluctance” in some councils to accept alternative materials during recent building material shortages or to streamline processes to recognize that some builds were less risky than others, the association said.

Those costs and delays perpetuated the housing crisis, Kelly said.

The association’s recent State of the Industry survey of builders and owners found that 80% of respondents were affected by consent delays, with 45% of builders waiting five weeks or more.

Additionally, 60% of landlords were impacted by 11-20% cost increases due to consent delays.

“New Zealanders cannot wait three years to make urgent changes to a system that has been broken for decades,” Kelly said.

“While we support this review and don’t want to see it rushed or rushed, that doesn’t stop the government from winning quickly and implementing obvious solutions.”

The review will not revisit the rule of joint and several liability, nor consider the introduction of liability costs for building permit authorities, limitations on their duty of care or a public liability regime. insurance against construction defects.

Building and Construction Minister Megan Woods declined to comment on individual submissions, but welcomed that organizations and individuals were taking part in the ongoing consultation to improve the building consent system, said said a spokesperson.

Consultation on the consent system closed on September 4 at 5 p.m.

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