Consent fees could double

LOIS CAIRNS AND RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2014

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The minimum cost of getting a building consent for a new home in Christchurch could almost double from July.

Crown Manager Doug Martin has been reviewing the fees the Christchurch City Council charges for building consents and is proposing a new fee structure that better reflects the complexity and time it takes to process consents in the post-quake environment.

Under changes that city councillors are considering including in the draft 2014/15 Annual Plan, the minimum application fee for a residential new build with a value of $100,000 to $300,000 would increase from $1750 to $3310 - a 89 per cent increase. That charge is designed to recoup the full costs incurred and includes the cost of eight on-site inspections.

Applicants would have to pay extra if more inspections were required.

The cost of obtaining commercial building consents is also set to skyrocket, with the minimum fee for a project over $1 million proposed to more than double from $5259 to $13,920.

Councillors are also being asked to consider raising other fixed service fees within the building control unit by 17 to 18 per cent and increasing the standard hourly charge-out rates for building consent/control officers by a similar margin. That would lift the hourly rate for a level 1 building consent officer from $140 to $165, while the hourly rate for a specialist building consent officer would increase from $240 to $280.

A council officer report on the proposed new fee structure says a high-level benchmarking exercise has been undertaken to determine what other councils which have a significant level of new residential building activity within their region are charging.

For the purposes of the exercise, each council was asked what the full building consent costs would be for a single-storey 200sqm house built to a national home builder's standard design with a project value of $350,000.

The results showed Auckland Council charged $4648, Ashburton District Council $3530, Tauranga City Council $3263, Queenstown Lakes District Council $2735 and Nelson City Council $2700.

Under the proposed new fee structure the consent cost for the same build in Christchurch would be $3850.

Brent Mettrick, managing director of Stonewood Homes, one of Christchurch's largest home building companies, said the increases were "totally inappropriate".

He did not expect the increased fees would lead to a better service as he was unsure the council was capable of doing so.

"The costs are out of line with other councils," he said. "We work across 70 other territorial authorities."

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The new fee structure was inappropriate for a "less than average service" from the council, he said.

Commercial property developer Antony Gough said he expected developers would be unhappy with the proposed fee structure.

"It is hard enough getting buildings up without council looking to charge substantially higher fees," said Gough, adding that developers would want proof the council was only seeking to recover costs through its new fee structure and not trying to raise a profit before they accepted such large increases.

"Building consent is not about getting money in," Mayor Lianne Dalziel said yesterday. "We charge what it costs."

Council Acting Chief Executive Jane Parfitt said if the proposal was accepted, the fee changes would coincide with improvements to the building consents systems at the council.

"The level of service will increase and it is expected that the system improvements - which would result in time improvements - will make the cost of gaining a building consent similar to what is being paid today."

THE FIGURES

New fees for residential builds:

Over $100,000 to $300,000, $3310 (up from $1750)

Over $300,000 to $500,000, $4290 (up from $2250)

Over $500,000, $5570 (up from $3250) Proposed new fees for commercial builds:

Over $100,000 to $500,000, $5680 (up from $3250)

Over $500,000 to $1 million, $9140 (up from $4250)

Over $1 million, $13,920 (up from $5250). 

This story has been updated to correct the per cent figure in the third paragraph.

- The Press

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