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Thousands of home and building owners in the Far North may be vulnerable if they have had building work carried out, but have never completed their obligations under the Building Act.
That is the warning the Far North District Council is issuing as part of a campaign to encourage people to apply for certificates for code compliance as soon as their building project has been substantially completed.
The council is putting in place a new team to target the backlog of about 14,000 building consents issued for which certificates have never been completed.
Some of these consents date back more than 20 years.
A certificate for code compliance is the final step in the building consent process.
It is issued when the building consent authority is satisfied, after a final inspection, that the new build or alterations fully comply with the building code or the building consent issued.
General manager for environmental services Fran Mikulicic says the council cannot force home and building owners to apply for a certificate for code compliance.
However, it wants them to be aware of the risks they take by not obtaining a certificate.
People seeking to sell their homes face a real chance of the sale falling through or the property selling for a lower price if the certificate for code compliance process hasn’t been completed, she says.
“The certificate for code compliance is much more than just another bureaucratic process.
“It gives prospective purchasers an assurance the home they are considering buying has been built to code standards and there shouldn't been any hidden problems.”
It also assures homeowners who aren’t selling that their house is a safe and healthy environment.
Homeowners may face insurance problems if something happens to a home or building on which there is no certificate for code compliance.
Ms Mikulicic says the huge number of buildings without certificates for code compliance isn’t unique to the Far North.
It is estimated there are more than 200,000 buildings across New Zealand without certificates.
Before the new Building Act in 2004, there was no statutory timeframe within which certificates for code compliance had to be completed.
Now, there is a two-year timeframe in place for building consent authority consideration.
There are other compelling reasons why the council is asking people to obtain certificates.
The council’s status as a building consent authority is under threat while the backlog exists.
Residents and businesses would lose the convenience of a local service provider and face additional travel costs if the council lost its consent authority status.
The council will also be able to collect $800,000 in outstanding development contributions if it issues certificates for the 14,000 building consents.
“Where it is a case of fee-avoidance, the wider community is currently covering the shortfall which is unfair.”
The council plans to target building consents uncompleted since 2005 before extending the campaign to earlier years.