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Clicks for bricks - Featured Image - Local Government August 2017

A group of councils are part of an online building consent pilot study. Look out for a wider rollout later this year.

Content Image – Buildings – LG August 2017

Eight councils are trialling a new online service for building consent applications. The councils are part of GoShift – an initiative involving more than 20 councils from Western Bay of Plenty to Nelson that aims to make the building consents process simpler and faster.
GoShift is supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Ross McCarthy, GoShift strategic and engagement manager, says the councils are already using the new standardised building consent application forms and the online service is the next stage in the initiative.
The online service will allow applicants to submit their building consent applications via an online portal.
Since the trial started in late April this year, 164 applications have been submitted with 148 accepted and 144 lodged and now being processed at councils.
The eight councils in the trial are Wellington and Nelson city councils and the district councils of Kapiti Coast, Manawatu, Tasman, Masterton, Carterton and Tararua.
Ross says making applications online is simpler and faster.
“It also means that customers can easily track the progress of their application and see when more information is needed,” he says.
The councils, and some select customers, are currently testing the service before it is rolled out to other GoShift councils. The service will then be available to customers from later this year.
The pilot is not only testing the online service but also how councils will integrate their existing systems with it.
Versatile Homes in Richmond was the first customer to lodge a building consent using the new online service.
Franchisee Ged Hammar says the new system is easy to use and has already sped things up.
“It saves so much time,” he said. “Faster lodging and less driving to meetings – they are both good wins for our business.”
The ability to duplicate applications for similar projects was also a real benefit for Versatile, as it works across Buller, Tasman, Nelson and Marlborough councils.
Tasman District Council building assurance manager Sharon Threadwell said the new system was part of ongoing efforts to improve service and speed up consent processing while maintaining quality standards.
“We’re here to make sure people who choose to build get safe, well-built homes and structures. At the same time, we want to provide a high level of service to the industry. This system helps us achieve both of those things.”
The online service is being provided by GoCouncil – a partnership between Master Business Systems (MBS) the developers of GoGet, and Nuwave Software. MBS has more than 20 years of experience working with council building departments.
GoShift, which started in 2015, aims to improve performance, consistency and levels of service across the building consent system.
GoShift will deliver:

  • A common set of building consent application forms;
  • A common set of consent processing and inspection checklists;
  • Standard templates (eg, letters and requests for information);
  • Implementation of a single best practice Quality Management System (QMS);
  • Alignment of website information and guidance for applicants;
  • A standard approach to data capture; and
  • The ability to share resources and expertise across councils.

Ross says all of these improvements will provide consistency for customers that apply for a building consent, right through to when the building is issued with a code compliance certificate at the end of the project.
MBIE has supported GoShift since it started. Chris Kane, manager sector trends and innovation team, says GoShift is a “genuine initiative by people with skin in the game to improve the function of a nationally-significant regulatory system”.
“Our long-term goal is a unified national approach that will make it easier and faster to get a building consent and provide consistency for applicants,” he says.

This article was first published in the August 2017 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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