If you're planning a building or renovation project for your home, it’s likely you will need to get an approved consent before beginning work.
The process of gaining a consent and following through to obtain a Code of Compliance Certificate at the end can be time-consuming and complex, especially if you haven't done it before.
Jeff Fahrensohn, Manager – Inspections for Auckland Council’s Building Control team, says there are some simple things you and your builder can do to save time and money on building inspections.
Here are his top five tips:
- Make sure you are ready for the building inspection. A lot of contractors are so busy they find it easier to use an inspector to compile a snag list of issues to address. Approximately 80 per cent of all inspection fails can be avoided by having a quality system in place. This doesn’t have to be a complex process – even a quick “once over” to ensure its complete would help save between 15,000 and 20,000 re-inspections. That equates to about $2.5 million in fees and 18,000 hours saved.
- Discuss changes, such as substituting a product or material or design changes, with the inspector early in the process. If the change is considered a “minor variation”, the inspector will try and approve this on site during the inspection. In some cases, they will need to research product compliance and this may delay the approval process. Occasionally, a proposal is bigger than a minor change and needs to be submitted as a full amendment. This will need to go to the processing team to assess, and can add weeks onto the process. Something you may find minor like changing the size of a window may end up affecting wall bracing, lintel sizes, ventilation or light requirements, and the like.
- Builders: Keep developing and improving your own technical knowledge – particularly if you are working with materials or products you are unfamiliar with. Researching manufacturers’ specifications can often lead to new learnings which may have been missed on site. Take the opportunities to develop professionally by attending conferences, workshops and trade breakfasts whenever possible. Make sure you conduct regular toolbox talks on site to impart this knowledge to your colleagues. Remember that knowing your health and safety obligations will help to protect you both on site and legally.
- Feel free to ask inspectors questions. They are highly trained and very knowledgeable about the Building Code and are very up-to-date on the latest trends and construction techniques. While the inspectors are always willing to help wherever they can, they must remain impartial and independent so don’t go asking them for their preferred product or builders. In saying that though, in the building game, a little knowledge can save a lot of money so make use of our inspectors and don’t be afraid to ask. If you need to use an interpreter, be sure to use someone familiar with building terminology – terms such as studs, nogs and dwangs don’t really translate well in any language.
- Make sure you have all of your outstanding certificates and other paperwork when applying for the Code Compliance Certificate (CCC). Nearly all CCC requests result in a request for further information which “stops the clock” and delays its issue. Having these documents prepared and available at the final inspection would help the process run much more efficiently. To help you identify what paperwork will be required, inspectors will list these as they are required on their inspection checklists. Another source of these is the Advice notes listed in the Building Consent documentation issued with the plans.
More information on building consents
The Auckland Council Building Control team ensures safe, sustainable buildings for Aucklanders and makes it easier to build compliant developments in the Auckland region.
It offers free help with consent applications – in person, on the phone or online.
The team also publishes a free Building or Renovating Guide.