The cost of red tape around simple building projects including basic houses could be slashed early next year in time to ease constraints around new housing in Christchurch and Auckland, Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says.
The Building (Amendment) Act No. 3 which allows for "risk based consenting" and lower compliance costs for basic construction projects was passed early last year but the regime has yet to take effect. Labour's building and construction spokesman Shane Jones this week questioned why it was taking so long to bring the new system into operation, saying it would remove "a major niggle" for many New Zealanders and also reduce costs for the Christchurch rebuild and housing developments in Auckland.
Mr Jones also hoped the regime could be extended to exempt some basic jobs from requiring permits if they were carried about by a registered builder.
Mr Williamson said that when the legislation was passed last year there were a series of pre-conditions before he would give the green light for the new regime. They included getting sufficient licensed building practitioners registered and achieving greater awareness of the building code, both of which had now been largely accomplished.
The remaining pre-condition was the implementation of better consumer protection measures which are part of the Building (Amendment) Bill No. 4 which is still before Parliament.
The legislation could be delayed if it was opposed by Labour but if they supported it, Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee had promised Mr Williamson enough time in the House to pass the legislation before Christmas.
That would allow Mr Williamson to trigger risk based consenting, "which the industry is desperate for" possibly by the end of March.
"This will be vitally important in both Auckland and Christchurch if you're going to get any sensible progress" Mr Williamson said.
"Christchurch has been absolutely moribund and hamstrung with its building consent authority losing its accreditation and not keeping up with the workload down there. Frankly a whole lot of the work they're having to do shouldn't need to be done under risk based consenting as a lot of the houses are stock standard."
Mr Jones indicated Labour would support the bill, partly because it would also implement a number of recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Canterbury earthquakes.
"From time to time I do think it's important we do act in a collaborative fashion. I can't think of an issue that requires a more collaborative approach."
Risk based consenting regime
* Reduces the consenting requirements and costs for lower risk residential and commercial buildings
* Would require fewer or even no inspections during construction for low risk projects
* Higher risk construction projects would still be subject to the existing consenting regime requirements