Almost $14,000 of taxpayers' money was spent determining if a boat was actually a house.
A determination by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) was needed on whether an Aramoana boat in Moana Rd at the centre of a dispute between owner Just Doi and the Dunedin City Council was subject to the Building Act.
Ultimately, after a site visit by determination staff and a naval architect, MBIE decided it could be considered a boat under construction, and the council should exercise its discretion if a few changes were made.
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Figures released to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act show MBIE spent $1423 on travel and $12,386 on consultants related to the determination.
The cost was on top of core staff functions.
Doi said any "sane" person knew he was building a boat, and there was no need for a determination.
The self-described "ageing hippie" began the structure about 10 years ago, but last year got a notice to fix - his second - from the council, which deemed it a house built without consent.
Doi said the council was still pressuring him to finish the boat.
A council spokesman said Doi had been invited to discuss options for a reasonable timeframe for the work.
No council money had been spent on the determination outside of usual staff time, the spokesman said.