Building a house: When an inspector calls

The building wrap just passed its inspection with flying colours. Maybe they just like blue.
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The building wrap just passed its inspection with flying colours. Maybe they just like blue.

Michele Powles is building a house in West Auckland and is documenting the trials and tribulations of the process in this weekly catch up.  

Under inspection

For those of you who have followed this series since the very beginning, you might remember the discussions I had with the Auckland Council over the costs of building consent. A significant part of those fees stem from building inspectors being required to come to the site and check in, at certain parts of the process, that you're doing it right.

This part of the building journey has been in the news of late, with people complaining that the process is over rigorous. I can't comment on those examples, not being a builder, or privy to the particulars of their new builds. What I can comment on is the process for us and maybe give you #newbuildlove dreamers a small insight into what your building consent dollars are going towards.

How many inspections are we talking about?

When you apply for your building consent (covered in Week 9 of this series), you pay a deposit amount (in Auckland this is on the council website), which will usually include a number of inspections. From my discussions, there are often more inspections than are covered by the initial amount.

It's not hard to see how the house passed its wrap inspection, with such a nice, clean job.
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It's not hard to see how the house passed its wrap inspection, with such a nice, clean job.

For us, our building consent was twice the "deposit" amount, meaning a significant further number of inspections were required. In fact, on our building consent documents, 24 inspections were required. At $135 per inspection, that's $3240.

Happily, some of these can be bundled together, and we have about 19 scheduled. Still, that's a bunch of cash right there. Worse, if for some reason you don't pass your inspection, you have to pay all over again.

So what's does that mean?

Unfortunately none of the inspectors have arrived in trench coat and fedora hat, and not one had extendable arms (and if you don't know what I'm talking about, you're either too young to be building a house (jokingnotjoking), or your childhood television watching was likely a sad and barren place).

A building inspection is pretty much what it says on the tin. At certain points in the process, an inspector comes out to the site, checks that you've done what your plans said you were going to do and signs off.

It makes sense of course – you want someone to check the internal framework for example, before it gets covered up, never to be seen again. Things like the setting out of the site need to be checked before you dig a single hole, and if you're putting in retaining walls, the poles need to be in their holes, but no concrete poured for example.

For me as a novice, it's about working through the checklist, scheduling and booking the inspections in with the build timeline and checking that we're all on time.

The build as seen from across the valley offers a bit of perspective on Michele's new home.
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The build as seen from across the valley offers a bit of perspective on Michele's new home.

Any problems?

Unlike the commentators in the media last week, so far, so good (she says crossing her fingers and touching wood).

Inspections need to be booked in advance, and sometimes that means taking a punt on when things will be ready. Of course, with an experienced builder, it's not so much a punt as an educated estimate, but even with Mike – Our Man of Hammers at the helm, we've had to rebook inspections as things haven't gone to plan and we've run late, or we've had to wait because the inspector is all booked up which has meant being stuck (for example when our concrete blocks went up).

The waiting is frustrating, but not insurmountable. And the inspectors have been universally pleasant, thanks Auckland Council. Building inspections also seem to go much quicker when the sky is letting loose with apocalyptic rain, funnily enough.

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And where are you up to?

We've just had our building wrap signed off which means we're gearing up to get the windows in, and then we're on to the cladding inspection. It means we're just under half way, but almost closed in. 

To me, impatient to see the house take form now that we've been at it for just over three months, it seems mad that we're still not half way, but Mr Building Boxes assures me that not only is it going to seem to take forever from now on, but the minutiae of all the details will likely do my head in.

I think I now know what he means. Still, once I get the paint brush in my hand, it'll feel like the end is coming. Although, once I get the paint brush in my hand, I'll probably wish the end had already arrived. Looking at the height of that ceiling, I can't quite believe we've said we're going to paint that whole puppy…

MORE ABOUT MICHELE'S NEW HOUSE BUILD:

* Introducing the family and the build

How to price a new build

* How to find a builder

How to get resource consent

* How to work around rain

* How to: concrete foundations

* How to: build an outside office

How to: sell your own property

How we sold our house by ourselves

The truths of building: you're bound to change your mind

Timber framing goes up

How to cope with the stress of building a house

A baby, an apple tree & a broken arm

* Where does a roof shout come from?

Michele Powles is a writer and mother of a Lego engineer and destruction specialist. You can read more about their New Build Love over at buildingboxes.co.nz or on Facebook

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