Legislation passed for faster consent process

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Legislation to speed up the building consent process and reduce costs for builders has been passed by Parliament.
The Building Amendment Act 2009, which came into force on August 1, is a practical first step in the Government’s plan to cut red tape.

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says the Act signals a move to more efficient and practical approaches to building, and could lead to better value for money for consumers.

“The downturn of the economy is continuing and building firms need as much help as they can get. This Act will help boost efficiency and greater productivity at a time when it is most needed.

And if builders pass on the cost savings, then consumers will benefit too,” Mr Williamson says.
The Building Amendment Act introduces the following changes:

• New national multiple-use approvals

This new type of approval will be available for house designs that will be replicated on a substantial scale. There will be less duplication because builders who intend to build homes at different locations using the same or similar plans will only need one single multiple-use approval.

Multiple-use approvals will be particularly useful for group home builders as it will cut potential costly delays. The Department of Building and Housing has started working on a business model for processing multiple-use approvals, which will be up and running early next year.

• A streamlined process for making changes to building consents

Under the Building Amendment Act, minor changes to building consents can be approved on the spot by councils, so builders or home owners no longer have to go back to the beginning of the consent application process to amend plans.

This means minor variations to approved plans can be made quickly and easily by home owners during construction. These amendments to the Act will save applicants time and money.
Regulations need to be made before the streamlined process can be implemented. The Department of Building and Housing expects the new process to be in place early next year.

• Removal of the mandatory requirement to apply for a project information memorandum (PIM)

Under the Act, it will no longer be mandatory to apply for a PIM when applying for a building consent. Where the information in the PIM is not considered relevant for a particular building project, building consent applicants can choose not to apply for a PIM.

The change to voluntary PIMs will occur six months from 28 July, 2009, the date the Bill was passed by Parliament.
Work on a wider review of the Building Act 2004 is under way, and Mr Williamson expects to announce further streamlining measures in due course.
A copy of the Building Amendment Act is available electronically atwww.legislation.govt.nz.