The Nelson City Council is proposing to overhaul the way it sets prices for building consents.
It plans to move from a mix of fixed fees and hourly charges to fixed charges, saying that would give clients more cost certainty.
The fixed fees will cover processing, administration and inspection fees for all general building consents and a code of compliance certificate.
Under the proposed changes, residential property alterations valued under $5000 would be charged a one-off $500 fee as opposed to paying $500 as well as extra charges under the current system, unless extra work by the council is required due to poor information being provided or continued missed or failed inspections.
Mayor Rachel Reese said she was pleased that under the changes the code of compliance certificate would be related to the scale of the works being carried out.
"It's hard to justify somebody paying the same price for a code of compliance for a deck as they do for a three-storey building," she said.
Reese was concerned that there would be higher fees for larger building developments, but whether that was material to the overall costs of projects remained to be seen, "but it doesn't mean we don't always keep looking for efficiencies and savings", she said.
Building work for which people are seeking exemptions will have to pay $50 per hour instead of $25 to the council.
The changes follow a review of the consents fee system after the council's building unit received unfavourable comment from the public.
"The change is being proposed because we'd had feedback about the uncertainty of the costs involved with the process and people being surprised by the high proportional fees on small-value works. This gives people more surety about the cost of this aspect of their project at the outset," said council communications manager Angela Ricker.
The council would like the consents work to be self-funded through the fees charged, but this was dependent on the number of consent applications received.
The council's building manager, Martin Brown, told the planning and regulatory committee that the service is expecting a downturn in consents requested for the coming year and this would affect the revenue it would generate.
Reese supported making fees more cost efficient, but without extra cost to ratepayers.
"I know there is an issue of cost recovery for council otherwise the ratepayers pay those. I am going to continue to look for opportunities to bring down the cost of building," she said.
"I'm never keen to see building fees and charges go up, but what I am aware of from the building unit's perspective is that several of these charges are imposed by the Building Act."
The changes will bring Nelson's council in line with Marlborough and Tasman which use similar fee structures. The changes have been proposed in the Draft Annual Plan.
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