A large reduction in the fees charged by local authorities to build in New Zealand must be fixed by the review of the Building Act, according to a senior building product appraiser.
While welcoming the release of the Government discussion document outlining proposed changes from the review, Building Element Assessment Laboratory CEO, Colin Prouse, says the move is the first baby step needed to create an effective building environment in New Zealand.
“Considering the inefficiencies and costs that have been allowed to build up under the current regulations, the Government's intentions to make it easier and cheaper to build in NZ are most welcome,” says Mr Prouse.
“There are glaring instances where processes and fees charged by territorial authorities, for example, were inappropriate and in some cases, unjustified.”
Another area of concern to Mr Prouse is the overall lack of trained council personnel. “From dealings with clients throughout the country, it’s clear that many building inspectors are nearing retirement and their replacements haven’t been given the training they need,” Mr Prouse says.
“When you add to this the fact that many councils resist obtaining outside help from independent experts, it becomes clear that things need to change.”
Mr Prouse says the lack of trained and experienced council building inspectors has seen an over-reliance on guidelines. These guidelines, called acceptable solutions, are known to require considerable work to bring them in line with acceptable building solutions.
“Because councils don’t have the capability, the guidelines have become de facto standards when this was never the intention,” says Mr Prouse.
“There are many more problems and many more steps that need to be taken to create the right environment. But I do congratulate Maurice Williamson and his Government for getting the ball rolling,” Mr Prouse concludes.
BEAL is an independent building products assessment company based north of Wellington and operating throughout Australasia since 2004.
For more information
Colin Prouse: Phone 04 233 6661