Retailers look at shed consent issue
Should retailers have to tell customers about whether they need building consent for a garden shed?
In suburban Auckland many detached buildings are illegally placed closer to a boundary or house than their height allows.
However, Bunnings Warehouse and Mitre 10 Mega both put the responsibility on the customer.
The companies say shoppers should always check with their local council to see if building consent is needed.
Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson says people can ask their council for an exemption if they believe their shed is not a fire risk to neighbours. An Auckland Council spokesperson says it doesn't receive many exemption applications but it requires a $308 deposit with the final cost based on the time taken to process the application.
The rule exists because of the potential fire risk to other buildings.
However, the council is only concerned enough to take action against non-compliant sheds if somebody complains.
In the case of Rashna Tata, who featured in the Eastern Courier on December 13, an anonymous complaint was laid following a dispute with a neighbour.
Ratepayer money was spent visiting her property and forcing her to record the offending kit set building on her Land Information Memorandum or get a "notice to fix", at a cost of $230.
Her situation went national on stuff.co.nz, prompting 150 comments with many expressing disbelief.
"Just another example of private property rights being trampled by stupid laws, petty neighbours and overzealous officials," one said.
And another: "I swear, the bureaucracy in this country is completely out of control!"
Counties Manukau fire risk management officer Phil Faidley says there is occasionally a fire in a garden shed and whether it spreads depends on the building, its contents and how quickly it is discovered and contained.
"It does happen, but I don't know if it is that frequent," Faidley says.
Williamson says the height-to-boundary rule exists for small buildings no more than one storey that do not exceed 10 square metres in floor area.
Home owners can apply for an exemption if, for example, the neighbouring section has no building on it, he says. "The building consent process ensures the appropriate fire safety requirement checks are done on the building."