Councils costing people thousands in building consent delays
It's easier and quicker to build a house than it is to get building consent, some builders say.
And since the leaky homes scandal and the Christchurch earthquake, building consents have become onerous to the point of being "encyclopedic" in the amount of information and level of detail required.
Latitude Homes managing director Marc Hunter said that while the statutory time frame for consents to be completed was 20 days, his company waited on average between eight-to-12 weeks for approval because councils frequently asked for more information at the last minute, known as a Request for Information (RFIs).
"The issue is that on the 19th day, 98 per cent of the time we will receive an RFI letter from the council," Hunter said.
RFIs stop the clock on the 20-day consent process and resume once the information is received.
Councils were sitting on consents over "silly stuff" that should be sorted out when lodged, while many RFI queries were insignificant or already contained in the documentation provided, he said.
A1 director for the Lower North Island, Bruce Martin said when he first started out a consent application contained about eight pages with maybe 50 pages of documentation. Now, he said, it was thousands of pieces of paper.
"15 years ago it was a piece of cake but now it's easier to build a house than it is to get building consent," he said.
For example a Wellington client of Latitude received an RFI from Wellington City Council several days after the deadline, with 26 questions.
Stuff asked several councils for data on the length of time taken to process building consents, and how frequently RFIs were requested.
Auckland Council manager project assessment south, Peter Laurenson said that it currently took an average of 15 working days to process building consents, but when the clock stopped for an RFI, on average it took the customer 19 days to respond, taking the average number of days for consent to 34.
Laurenson said 77 per cent of all applications required the council to request further information. The council had granted 5172 consents in the past 12 weeks, he said.
"This is one of the largest contributing factors to delays with the overall process," he said.
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