19 Mar 2022

Councils pass check on building consent systems

11:55 am on 19 March 2022

Councils have scored a pass for their building consent systems that are under intense pressure.

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(File image) Photo: 123RF

The latest official check on them says most have good policies, procedures and systems.

But the 76 councils (or other consenting authorities) looked at, have almost 90 technical vacancies and some are struggling.

"In order to try and meet statutory timeframes many BCAs [building consent authorities] are contracting work out to private organisations," the report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said.

"In some instances, those private organisations do not have capacity to assist and are turning away work or not taking on any new work."

Lack of technical skills makes it harder for councils to assess complicated buildings, and often they were not getting it right when it came to "specified systems" (such as fire systems).

Councils have joined clusters, to share resources.

The official inspections found a tenth of the agencies, assessed between July 2019 and June 2021, had at least one serious non-compliance.

On average, though, each had 16 non-compliances, mostly not serious.

The most common fail is for poor policies and procedures for processing building consent applications.

Some councils were not meeting their obligations due to Covid-19, with upper management not always giving full backing, the report said.

"This especially relates to making available sufficient staff and contractor resource."

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