Concern on building charges

Increasing the cost of building consentscould make a difficult situation worse, Clutha builders says.

Stuart Peggie, of Peggie Building, said builders in the area were already worried about the cost of running their businesses.

A meeting was held last year to discuss the ongoing issue of affordability in the industry, and a group put their concerns about increasing costs around health and safety and recent changes to the Building Act to Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay in December.

The Clutha District Council is proposing an average 20% increase in fees for building consents from July 1 this year.

The move is aimed at better covering the council's building control costs, which are only two-thirds covered by existing fees, and keeping rates rises down.

Ratepayers contribute about 35% of the cost of building control at present.

The increase would reduce that to 10% or 20%.

The rates rise proposed for the 2015-16 year is 2.54% at present, though that may change if proposals such as the building consent fee increase are rejected by the council following public consultation April.

The increase in consent fees would add hundreds of dollars to some projects.

Mr Peggie said it would affect his workload.

''Building work can often get put back. If you need an electrician or a plumber, you call them straight away. But some of our jobs probably can be put off. That's one thing that we're very wary of. We don't want to be, because of affordability, pushed back.''

He was sympathetic to the council's concerns, but he would need to see justification for making building more expensive.

The council's $110 per hour fee would increase by an estimated 20% under the proposal to $130 per hour and the fees hike would put Clutha in the same range as Dunedin, Gore, Central Otago and Southland.

David Latta, from David Latta Building, said he was not interested in the fees other regions were charging.

''I know other council's fees are a lot higher. Is this just making us comparable to the neighbour? If it's like that, it's not a good option,'' he said.

The council's manager of planning and regulatory services David Campbell said fees for consents generated $355,000 of the $533,000 cost of building control in 2013-14.

The cost of running building control was expected to increase to $580,000 next year and the council hoped 80% to 90% of that would be recovered.

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