January 2019

Specialist input (engineering review of design)

Note: SED = special engineering design
There have been some queries about additional invoicing for engineering review of design and why these costs are not included in the application fee up front. Council building consent fees & charges do not include any specialist input such as engineering review for the simple reason that no one knows what it will be or whether it will be necessary.

Please refer to Council Fees & Charges page 9:

‘Professional services and specialist input costs if required will be passed on to applicants and invoiced plus 10%.’

Consent fees and charges are based on the value of work and include, vetting, processing, inspections, BRANZ and MBIE levies, Code Compliance Certification which are all fixed and required for every application.

A building consent authority must issue building consents only if it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the proposed building work will comply with the NZ building code.

Applications that include structural engineering calculations can only be verified by qualified persons which of course, must be qualified engineers.

Some design does not include any SED while other design includes a lot. It is impossible to build these costs in to applications what we do not know and of course would be grossly unfair to attempt to do this since those applications that do not require engineering review would be paying for what they do not need.

Engineering calculations or SED requires review by KDC contracting engineers since no processing officer is qualified to assess engineering calculations. This is the situation and practice of many smaller Councils across the country even though there are different methods of payment process.

Councils across NZ charge these out when the specialist assessment has been completed.

Larger Councils have ‘in-house’ engineers that review engineering design and calculations and these charges are accrued along with the building processors time.

The fee is then totalled and paid prior to issuing of consent. However, currently KDC uses a payment system that is applied at vetting stage prior to processing which does not include any engineering
review component for the reasons given above. Kaipara, as with most other smaller consent authority does not have in-house engineers but contract engineers that review SED elements. It is the option of applicants to provide a PS2 (engineering
design review) from their own CPENG which would usually negate the need for KDC engineer to review & assess the calculations.

A PS2 (design review) is an issued document that underpins a detailed design review by a CPENG that must not be professionally associated with the engineer that issued the PS1 (design).
The ‘review’ that KDC contract engineers undertake is not a ‘PS2’ but rather a ‘review’ of the structural design.

Occasionally for complex engineering design a PS2 will be requested from the KDC engineer since a peer review (PS2) is a far more detailed review than what KDC engineer undertakes.

We are considering moving to the payment system commonly used by many Councils whereby the total processing charges will be ‘real time.’ The Alpha One system has inbuilt time clock software which, if turned on accurately captures the actual time spent on processing including Specialist input. This system would provide greater visibility of the actual time spent processing applications and would also include specialist input time when required (engineer). If we decided to go this way we would consider providing estimated processing times. This would be related to the complexity of the project i.e. Res 1, Res 2 or Res 3 etc.

Remember that good quality applications would be rewarded with less processing time due to reduced RFI’s. However, engineering review time would remain dependant on the complexity of the design and the quality of the engineering calculations as it does now.
Feedback on the consideration above is welcome and can be forwarded to Building Support.


Online Building Consents Applications & Printing

From April 2019 Council will no longer accept paper applications nor print out copies of building consents.

Applying for building consents online

In 2018 to date 80% of all applications have been lodged on line through the Alpha one portal while only 20% have still been lodged in paper form.
Once you have experienced the efficiency of doing this the first time you will appreciate the benefits.
It is a very simple matter of applying for a log in after which you are able to manage the entire consent process up to Code Compliance Certificate.
Your login is now used whenever you want to see the status of your application or provide further information.
We have made a professional video to assist for those that do not know how to lodge online or are not confident to do so. We will also assist either on the phone or in office to show how it is done if required. Please contact Building Support if assistance is required.


Review the full video below to get full advantage of the on line system:

Printing of plans and specifications

Prior to April 2014 applicants provided 3 copies of plans and specifications and after processing was satisfied the officer simply stamped these documents and issued one copy back to the applicant.
In April 2014 KDC adopted the Alpha online system and began scanning paper applications into the online system then printing the consent documents once ready to be issued.
Although there have always been printing charges in our fees and charges, we have never applied these for the printing of consent documents.
Up to date, 29 key customers have requested only electronic issued consents due to the fact they can access the consent immediately and print so the amount of printing we do has been significantly reduced.

The following procedures are now available, however, from 1st April 2019 will be mandatory:

  • All processors are placing the stamped consents in a file called ‘building consents issued’. Applicants simply log in to their account and click on the ‘view documents issued’ link, then print out the plans and documents.
Do I have to print everything?

Yes. It is assumed that what the designer has provided was deemed to be required to support the application for compliance with the NZ Building Code and subsequent issuing of the consent.
Having said this, it is encouraged and advised that the designer only provide precisely what is applicable to the consent application not the entire range which is often done. Full books and pages of specifications often contain information not relevant to the design.
Remember that both the builder and inspector need access to any manufacturers specifications whether these have been cut and pasted to the plans or contained as a separate document. Plans and details should be specific to the design otherwise they are superfluous.
The processor will place all documents in the ‘issued documents’ folder that are required to be printed.

Agents Authorisation on behalf of owner

We have had several complaints by owners who were not privy to a consent application made on their behalf by Agents i.e. people who are leasing the building.
Please include in your applications an email or letter that confirms you are authorised to apply for the consent on behalf of the owner.

Consent Notices

Consent notices (CN) are strictly legal documents under the RMA and very often contain critical requirements that the building consent must be subject to. These are legally binding to any owner of the property to which they relate.
The building department is not authorised to waive consent notices. If you believe the CN does not apply, is outdated or incorrect, you may apply to the Planning department for an amendment or removal. There are fees associated with this.
However, you are required to justify the change and any approval is at the discretion of Planning under the RMA not the Building Department.

It is your responsibility and in your interests to obtain and review these notices prior to settling on the design.

It is very common that consent notices specify certain engineering requirements for stormwater, wastewater or/and specific structural requirements (particularly in relation to the ground). Even colour reflectivity is sometimes included on consent notices.
Council require all CN’s related to the section to accompany the application in order for the processor to confirm what bearing if any, these have on the design proposal.

If the particular lot has been subdivided often the CN’s are found on the ‘parent’ title. This title may reference specific requirements that relate to your lot. Council is obliged to request these with the

IANZ Accreditation results

From the 30th October 2018 to the 1st November, International Accreditation NZ undertook the 3 day, two year systematic audit of the Building Consent Authorities policies, procedures & systems. This included extensive interviews, and a thorough review of inspections, processing decisions, competence and training records. The outcome was very good for the BCA and was summarised by the Lead auditor Carolyn Osborne at the end:

‘The BCA had an outstanding commitment to all aspects of the Quality System both technical and non-technical’

Note: We will be providing updates or information to this page on a regular basis and also working on
tools to better facilitate feedback and enquiries.

Once again, any queries or feedback, you are welcome to send to: