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Council consent lead times - Why are they increasing?

Building consent NZ

Gaining consent is often the most dreaded aspect of building a new shed. This is because it can generally become a drawn-out process with a lot of back and forth with your local council. So what exactly is a typical council consent lead time? And why are they increasing?

Since every council has different processes, the lead times can vary among districts. To ensure you’re equipped for your next project, we’ll provide an overview of the varying consent lead times for different councils throughout New Zealand, and the implications this has for new shed projects, as well as how Alpine Buildings can handle the council consent process for you.

The building consent process

The regulatory framework for building consents is set by MBIE and every council has the same set of rules to follow. This means that applying for consent is a similar process regardless of your geographical location. It is then the processing time of your application that differs between councils. To apply for building consent you will need to fill in your local council’s consent application forms as well as provide all of the required documents, including designs, clauses of the Building Code complied with, waivers/modifications to the Building Code with reasoning, and more. You will then need to lodge your application with your council. Ultimately, when your council is confident that your proposed plan will meet the requirements of the New Zealand Building Code, they will grant you consent.

In saying this, some smaller buildings do not require consent. If you’re planning for a small shed (under 30sqm) then you may only require an LBP (Licensed Building Practitioner), or an engineer, or to ensure the use of lightweight materials per the Acceptable Solution code (B1/AS1). In addition, some structures can have an exemption if they have a footprint of under 110sqm. However, New Zealand building guidelines dictate that most shed buildings over 30sqm in floor area require a building consent. At Alpine Buildings, we specialise in sheds over 250sqm due to our structure design being the most cost-efficient in large clearspan sheds. For this reason, the majority of our clients will need to gain consent for their project.

Consent lead times per city

Current consent lead times across New Zealand

Typically, building consents take 20 working days to be processed from the time they are received by your council. However, this has increased over the recent months and there are a few reasons for it. For example, over July alone only 58% of building consents had been processed by Masterson’s District Council within the 20-day timeframe. This was the result of a skill shortage which is a nationwide problem and is increasing consent lead times. With councils, such as Tauranga City Council, introducing increased fees there has been a large influx of building consent requests as people try to squeeze in before the fee increase is in place. This, coupled with the current high demand for building consents and councils becoming overwhelmed, is arguably a large contributor to the longer consent lead times across New Zealand.

While it is the statutory requirement that all councils process 100% of building consents within 20 days, this is simply not the case. As the controller and auditor general explains:

Typically, councils have a target to process 100% of consent applications within 20 working days, but we did see some variations. For example, Hutt City Council had a target to process 80% of building and resource consent applications within 18 working days, and Rotorua Lakes Council had a target to process 60% of building and resource consent applications within 15 working days. Other councils had targets of less than 100% in 20 working days, which is not consistent with statutory obligations.

Invercargill City Council (which processed 64% of building consent applications) remarked on a significant increase in the number and value of building consent applications compared to the previous 12 months. It also stated that resources (both internal and external) had been insufficient to meet the demand. This increase in applications is a nationwide trend, as is the shortfall in qualified staff.”

Ultimately, as the demand for building consents increase, local councils do not necessarily have the resources to meet their statutory obligations of the 20-day processing window. Through our recent experiences consulting with various New Zealand councils, we have observed the average consent lead time to be anywhere between 17-45 working days, which is why it’s imperative to apply for consent early.

It’s important to note that most councils have a shutdown period from mid-December to mid-January which is right around the corner. Since this time of year tends to be popular for getting started on building projects, an increase in consent applications coupled with a shutdown and a system backlog once councils re-open is likely to delay your project. That’s why it’s crucial to plan ahead, apply for consent early, and factor these potential delays into your project timeline to ensure your shed is complete when you need it to be.

How Alpine Buildings assists with council consents

How Alpine Buildings can take care of the consenting process

Here at Alpine Buildings, we believe the entire shed planning, designing, and building process should be as simple and efficient as possible. We achieve this with our in-house team of experts who take care of the process from concept to delivery. Over our 20+ years of experience, we have worked with various New Zealand councils to gain consents for our customers. This means the A-team is well-versed and knows exactly what to expect. Enlisting the help of Alpine Buildings means that we look after the consent process from start to finish, saving you time and hassle going back and forth with your council so you can focus on the things you enjoy.

With comprehensive knowledge of how to obtain building consents, our team can alleviate your stress. We maintain communication with your local council to ensure your information is delivered promptly so that you can get your shed building complete as soon as possible. With fast lead times and covering the entire building consent process being just a couple of our core offerings, why don’t you take a look at exactly what else we have on offer to simplify and expedite your shed building journey? Simply click on the button below to discover why you should choose Alpine Buildings.


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