Rotorua home improvement enthusiasts are collectively set to save about $30,000 in the next year, as a change to building consent rules will make it "easier and cheaper" to make basic home improvements.
However, a Rotorua builder says it could make shonky builds easier for "cowboy" builders.
The rule changes, which came into effect on Monday, mean building consents will no longer be needed for projects such as carports, sleep-outs, sheds, verandas and porches as long as they fit within certain size requirements.
Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa said the changes meant "less red tape and lower compliance costs for homeowners".
She said it would also help improve the productivity of the construction sector, which would support the Covid-19 economic recovery.
The new exemptions cover single-storey detached buildings up to 30sq m, including greenhouses, awnings, and outdoor fireplaces.
Each year, the changes are expected to result in 9000 fewer consents nationally for councils to process, and could save homeowners across the country up to $18 million in costs.
Rotorua Lakes Council operations manager Jocelyn Mikaere said because many of the changes had a number of conditions attached, the council expected an increase in inquiries relating to the exemptions.
"In the short-term, this means the changes probably won't result in significant time saving, but in the long-term we should see a positive impact on the building consent process.
"We're hoping that in time these changes will mean customers applying for consents will experience a quicker turnaround time."
She said between August 30, 2019 and the same date this year there had been about 30 to 40 building consents that would have matched the exemption criteria.
The most common type of consent issued by the council that would now be exempt was farm buildings under 110sq m, Mikaere said.
The next most common was garages and carports up to 40sq m, then ground floor verandas and porches up to 30sq m.
Mikaere said the council would see a revenue drop of about $28,000 in the next 12 months as a result.
Steve Wright Builders owner-operator Steve Wright said the changes helped fast-track builds but it could also make things easier for "cowboy" builders.
"It's opening a can of worms.
"You've still got to build to building standard.
"It's good that this is in, but there's no policing."
He said the consent process was so "long and drawn out" that it probably had a deterrent effect on cowboy builders.
Wright said the consequences were often felt when people attempted to sell their properties.
Up Front Builders owner-operator Rhys Johnston said cowboy builders were an issue whatever the rules were.
"It's been going on the whole time anyway."
The exemptions allowed for the Kiwi culture to "have a go", although buildings still needed to be up to code for insurance and re-sell purposes.
There was an opportunity for some builders to secure more business as the overall cost was now cheaper, Johnston said.
"It's a cost saver, at the end of the day."
• For more information on what falls under the new exemptions, visit building.govt.nz/buildit.