Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.

JOHN CARTER - MAYOR OF THE FAR NORTH DISTRICT OF NEW ZEALAND


Moving forward together

Thursday 8 November 2018

Simpli makes building easier

Becoming a home owner is a life-changing event and, for most of us, is the biggest financial commitment we ever make. Buying or building a home is a hugely rewarding experience, but it is often complicated and stressful with a host of new demands and obligations.

As many of you know, the whole country has been experiencing a building boom over the past few years. I discussed the impact this was having on Council here almost exactly a year ago. Like other local authorities, we have been dealing with record numbers of resource and building consent applications, but at the same time, have struggled to hold onto experienced planning staff attracted by higher wages in the private sector.

The Council plays a key part in the building process by ensuring all buildings meet minimum standards. It is up to us make sure each building meets structural, fire safety, access, moisture and durability standards demanded by legislation and we do this through the building consents process.

To ensure we meet the demand for building consents and keep construction work in the Far North on track, we have juggled staff resources and seconded staff in from other areas of the Council. At the same time, we have looked for a permanent way to streamline the building consents process and, this month, we took an important step towards achieving that goal.

From 1 November, we began transitioning to a new electronic building consent system called Simpli. We are one of more than 20 local authorities joining this award-winning programme. It aims to improve the consistency and delivery of building consents across New Zealand and is supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

One of the most significant changes builders and homeowners will see is no longer having to submit paper-based building consent applications to Council. Applications can now be filled in on-screen and emailed directly. Plans and other documents are also now accepted electronically as PDFs. This will save you time and money on collating and printing documents, and you no longer have to keep duplicate documents on site - our inspectors will have electronic versions.

For us, the change means using the same forms, and asking the same questions about the same types of building work as other local authorities that use Simpli. We will have the same system to record work, and the same procedures and responsibilities. If you’re a builder of developer who deals with different councils, this gives you certainty about the information to include when lodging building consent applications and booking an inspection - wherever the job is.

This time last year, I promised we would do all we could to ensure your building plans are processed as smoothly as possible, while also meeting our legal obligations under the Resource Management Act and other planning rules. Simpli is a proven electronic building consent process that makes good on that promise.

 

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