Redesigning the Dunedin City Council's building control
unit should mean processing of building consents is reduced to
10 days within six months, the council says.
That should be good news for property owners and builders,
who have faced delays of up to 50 days in recent years, when
processing of consents was at its worst.
The building control unit - since December 3 known as
Building Services - is the first council department to be
overhauled as part of council chief executive Paul Orders'
efficiency review of all the council's services.
Builders say they are pleased to hear the ''right noises''
coming from council management about improving the service,
and are hopeful the changes will result in a better service,
but accept that could take time.
As a result of the year-long review, which involved two
external reviews and a strengths/weaknesses analysis with
staff, there have been changes to building services staff
roles and functions, as well as the unit's systems and
processes, which management say should mean people with
building projects will see improvements in efficiency.
As part of the ''service redesign'', building services
staff will now be dedicated to specialist roles, about 10
people processing consents and 10 being building inspectors,
rather than rotating between the two jobs.
All staff will be trained to be multi-skilled to the
standards required for a basic residential dwelling, while
specialist staff will deal with the various aspects of bigger
Regulatory services manager Kevin Thompson said that should
result in fewer people needing to be involved in the
processing of each application, which should result in more
efficient processing as well as reduce the possibility of
confusion or misunderstandings.
The building services team will also move to using a central
electronic processing system during the next few months.
An electronic system, which could include things like people
being able to submit plans to the council via email and
building inspectors sending in live information from site via
wireless technology, is being developed in-house. Other
councils have already switched to such electronic systems,
and all local authority systems will one day marry with a
central processing system the Government is keen to develop.
Five dedicated administrative staff will be focused on
building services alone, and allow processors and inspectors
to focus on their core roles.
There is also a focus on more communication with people
applying for consents, including pre-application meetings. Mr
Thompson expected people would notice big changes in about
six months when the new structure and processes had properly
Building services manager Neil McLeod said while the goal was
to reduce consent processing time frames to 10 days, that was
dependent on the incoming workload remaining steady.
He expected people with building projects would most notice
the changes by the fact they should only have to deal with
one person processing their consents, and one building
inspector for the whole project. There were no job losses in
the review, but six vacant positions will not be filled.
The changes follow a 20% decrease in the cost of consents in
late 2011 after an independent report showed both the cost of
consents and the cost of running the building control
department were significantly higher in Dunedin than other
A new deposit system was also introduced, whereby applicants
pay a deposit for their consent, which Mr Thompson said
should largely be the expected end cost of a project.
Otago Master Builders Federation president Mark Ward said he
was aware of the changes, and builders hoped they would
improve a service that had been under par for a long time.
It had always concerned builders that consents could be
processed in half the time by outside organisations
contracted to help
Dunedin when it was overwhelmed.
''If they can do it, it would be brilliant.''
Improvements would require a culture change, and that could
take a long time, he said.