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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Insurance Council and building consents – a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

Earlier this evening (Sunday) a media release was sent out from the Insurance Council (ICNZ) welcoming the progress being made by CCC on issuing building consents. At the same time ICNZ took it upon itself to warn CCC that “… the council “can’t take its foot off-the-peddle””.

Consider the on-going track record of most insurers - continuous failure to communicate, act, or negotiate with any sense of urgency, competence or diligence over the last two and a bit years. How can ICNZ consider itself to be in any position to criticise or advise CCC? Had insurers performed to a uniformly satisfactory standard would the bottleneck now being experienced have been so great? Is this being used as another opportunity for insurers to blame someone else for problems they themselves have created?

It would be ideal if consents could be granted more quickly, but at what cost? The process is there for a purpose – health, safety, quality and appropriateness. Think in terms of leaky buildings, shonky land, quick and dirty construction. Think also of the past mistakes made in consenting land and old buildings. These are the reasons we must have an effective consenting process.  Sure,  Minister Brownlee wants consenting done quickly to demonstrate that progress is being made. Insurers and their builders want to get the job done, reduce costs, remove the pressure they are under. These are not good things if done at the expense of the integrity of the checks and balances, and the quality of what is produced. Already there a strong murmurings of shoddy work being carried out that may equal the problems caused by the construction of leaky buildings. That’s not a road New Zealand can afford to travel twice.

The full ICNZ media release:

Christchurch City Council Building Consents Progress Welcomed

The Insurance Council of New Zealand welcomes the progress the Christchurch City Council is making on reducing the building consents backlog but warns the council “can’t take its foot off-the-peddle”.

The city council reported at the weekend that it was able to process almost 400 backlogged building consents in just four working days last week (17-20 June).

Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton applauded the progress but urges the city council to maintain the momentum with 1100 building consents still in the pipeline and the expected increase in consent applications that will be filed in the coming months.

“We’ve made a commitment to complete most of our rebuild programme by the end of 2015 with some in 2016,” said Mr Grafton.  “But every delay impacts on our ability to achieve that timeline and more importantly our ability to get the people of Christchurch back into their homes and buildings.

“Insurers fully appreciate the enormous pressure the city council is under but we’ve had reports from members that building consents are taking between 10 to 14 weeks, adding a minimum 1 to 2 months to our building programmes. Such delays are unacceptable given the statutory requirement for processing consents within 4 weeks.

“None of us can afford to take our foot off-the-peddle because anything that slows us down ultimately slows down Christchurch’s economic recovery,” said Mr Grafton.

The Insurance Council also welcomed the Government’s recent intervention and the assistance other local authorities are giving the city council to avoid it being stripped of its powers to grant consents by the International Accreditation New Zealand.

“The last thing anyone wants, particularly the people of Christchurch, is the resulting uncertainty and further delays that will occur should the city council lose its consenting function,” said Mr Grafton.


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