Building Consent Despair Christchurch… Still…

We are Still trapped between our Engineer and the Christchurch City Council Building Consents Department. (Note that this is Gerry Brownlee’s restructured Building consent department).  An unenviable situation, one is hopelessly overworked and the other hopelessly rigid and rule bound with a desire to limit any possibility of liability, as well as overworked.

We wonder if this system of Building Consents has been set up for large companies with Architects, designers, lawyers and building consent experts, with a “fist full of dollars”  and with no interest in helping small building owners navigate through the mire of bureaucracy. I note that all liability rests with our Engineer anyway so whats the fuss???

We have been waiting for 2 years to gib this ceiling, does anyone actually want us to finish this damn building?

I note that there may well be repercussions from this tirade, but we are going nowhere anyway and have nothing to lose.. so what the hell…

The question that you have to ask is: Is it worth strengthening and repairing a Heritage building?  If the difficulties that we are having with CERA/CCDU/CCC Building Consents/Engineer/etc is anything to go by I would say not. The hoops that we are jumping through are just too complicated, time-consuming and frustrating.

I personally would no longer recommend that anyone try to save a heritage building in Christchurch.  It appears to me that the “powers that be” actually prefer it if we do not succeed. The financial side of the strengthening/repair actually stack up, it is the other issues that are so frustrating.

At the moment I am at the point of opening without consent and with no ceiling, that will get them ” jumping all over me”, but that’s no surprise is it?

Frustration is getting the better of us...

Frustration is getting the better of us…

Just to give you a rough idea of the process I am currently dealing with, I will give you a few examples of the questions I am getting.  Mostly the problems appears to be semantics, ie wording. Building consents want it said in a particular way and until you get your documentation in their preferred format (which actually is all about removing liability for the council) you get NO WHERE.

At the moment the arguments Are:

Please find the review in the attachment for your and your designer’s information – we do need the report to be completely correct because all these documents form part of the property file and stay with the property. Here read:( ie please make sure you have all your wording just as WE like it, so we can cover our asses.)

RFI5105 – please provide an updated design using entirely the old C/AS1 incorporating all the works – please refer to the fire review attached. Here read: (ie for gods sake stop changing things and stop allowing for future proofing.)

RFI5127 – Please provide drawings to clearly show the construction details of the proposed fire separations within this building, including the location of the fire walls/ceilings, the fire protection around the structural supports etcHere read:
(ie label the fire cells 1 and 2, although it is clearly identified in the documentation)

RFI5131 – all new works must fully comply with the Building Code, this include any replacement to the boundary walls and their compliance to the protection of the neighbouring properties requirements. Please clarify how this is achieved. Here read:
( ie you have re-mortared some bricks, exactly in the same position as they were, in fact they are now stronger, please tell us how you did this???? )

RFI5132 – As the new steel columns are introduced next to the party walls, please clarify how will these steel columns be protected from fire so that should there be a fire in the building the steel members will not damage the party walls. Please note the steel columns will elongate in fire and without any treatment the connection will damage the party walls. Here read:
(Now this is interesting, these columns are exposed, ie not boxed in.

You decide: A) do you want this building strengthened or B) do you want to hang around and find out which melts first the bricks or the steel…. dur….  so you want us to box in every column in the building???  I think not.  Note that this issue was consented to in the original building consent in 2010, why are we revisiting this?  These walls have been here for 110 years… so I moved a few bricks around… also the party-wall legislation is so flawed it needs to be dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming. These buildings are old, stop trying to pretend that they will ever meet new legislation standards.)

I note that I am not the only Building owner having troubles:  Link Here:

“Council figures show the time taken to process consents has steadily declined. In May, it processed 86 per cent of residential building consents within the statutory 20 working days. Processing commercial applications was a greater struggle. It managed to process only 32 per cent of those in the required time frame.

Now for some thing totally different:

We have had David Lynch suggest that the Gap filler project is messy and unprofessional.  He suggests: “The non-profit endeavour should be moved to a “bohemian” site somewhere near CPIT, he said. In an interview, Lynch described the Crowne Plaza site as “almost like a gypsy camp” Link Here:

I am sure that we do not need a bohemian “gypsy camp”  in High Street, thank you very much for the offer.  But I think not.  The feel good factor of gap filler is now at an end and I tend to agree with Mr Lynch.

Now, my sources tell me, we had a very “weak presentation” put on by the CCDU touting for money for some rather large White Elephant Anchor projects. My sources tell me that a number of the speakers were excellent, but the CCDU did not excel it self. Link Here:

The CCDU is looking for funds for a park, an art collection and a river bank project. $20 million for a park?  You must be kidding!  Most of us would settle for a road with no road works or road cones, a house that does not leak and a settlement from our Insurance company’s.  I do not suggest they come to me for a donation, the answer will be less than polite. Not a penny will you get.

For heavens sake get your priorities right. Can you not read the mood of the city???

Looks to me that I am not the only one thinking along these lines. Link here:  and here:

I think strong coffee is required.  Ho humm anyone got a spare $ 20 million for a nice artwork and a playground?



6 thoughts on “Building Consent Despair Christchurch… Still…

  1. meanwhile 2 more entertainment / hospo operators who set up temporarily TWO YEARS ago in anticipation of being part of a CBD rebuild have given up, closed up, and moved-on, in the last week. “The Club” in Colombo Street and “The Town Ball” in Manchester Street now gone

    • You are right. The lack of progress that I am bitterly complaining about is mirrored across the city centre. I know I am being grumpy but I feel that the city has been badly let down by the National Govt led administration. I was not aware that the Town Ball has gone as well. Sad. I am afraid that I think that this is just the beginning of a bad winter for both retailers and hospitality. The lack of progress is disheartening and frustrating.

  2. You need a serious holiday. Come watch the puppet show District Court room 4 2.15pm for my 15 dwelling claims. Join me for a break in Queenstown tomorrow.

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