In last Tuesday's Herald, estate agency manager Paul Lochore criticised the Auckland Council's alleged inefficiencies and costs of building and resource consents.
He said it takes two years on average for it to process a building consent.
As with many types of applications, we are totally reliant on the quality of information provided by the applicant.
We assess plans and specifications in consent applications to ensure the proposed building work will comply with the Building Code. When we are satisfied these meet the requirements, we issue a building consent for the work to proceed.
For the average application, where all paperwork is in order, it takes 17 statutory days for consent to be issued.
Annually the council processes more than 23,000 consents and undertakes more than 132,000 building inspections. We acknowledge we are having trouble finding and retaining people in a buoyant market, but we are working hard to ensure we meet the needs of our customers.
Those who work in building consents are highly regarded specialists in their area, with considerable expertise in advising and interpreting laws and standards. It is their work that guarantees Auckland's buildings meet the rigorous and necessary standards.
Rather than being a gravy train, as opined by Lochore, local authority building fees are a user-pays service; this is far from being a money-making scheme. Building fees are charged to those building, not funded by the ratepayer.
Interestingly, research conducted by Beacon and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research in 2015 showed construction as the largest expense in the building process (51 per cent).
Council consenting costs were estimated at 4 per cent of the total cost.
Without knowing the address or specific circumstances of Lochore's young relative, we cannot provide an exact breakdown of the $69,000 allegedly spent in consent fees.
However, our building consent fees are set out quite clearly on the Auckland Council website and are a fraction of the sum Lochore claimed.
It is our belief the $69,000 he referred to is the contribution to paying for the new or upgraded infrastructure required to service the new dwelling through development contributions and infrastructure growth charges.
Every new dwelling added to the city puts additional pressure on water infrastructure, roads, parks and other amenities. These charges ensure the general ratepayer does not pay.
Once a building is completed and it complies with the consented plans, inspections have been carried out and all necessary certificates have been supplied, then we will issue a code compliance certificate, which confirms that all the requirements of the Building Code have been met.
The Auckland Council has been working hard to improve its performance in this area and is pleased to report 95 per cent of code compliance certificates are issued within 20 statutory days.
Clearly that leaves around 5 per cent that are outliers, and I appreciate the frustrations that come with delays.
Typically these are situations where we haven't been provided with the correct information and processing has been put on hold while we wait for it.
Gaining a code compliance certificate is the end of the building process and is a signal to those living in the house, lenders and future buyers that the property has been built in accordance with the Building Code. You can live in a house without a compliance certificate being issued and, in fact, some people never get one - although that is rare given that it is a key mortgage requirement.
Our building consent process is not perfect. We always have room to improve and are very interested in hearing of less-than-satisfactory customer experiences so we can continue to develop.
The building process is a partnership and if we are supplied with quality information then it is often a fast and straightforward experience.
With this in mind we would welcome Lochore's relative to contact us to discuss the circumstances of his code compliance certificate.
• Penny Pirrit is the director of regulatory services at the Auckland Council.