Part 3: Relative fee structures and financial performance

Auckland Council: How it deals with building consents.

In this Part, we look at:

  • selected local authorities' building consent fee structures;
  • the costs of a sample of building consents; and
  • the annual cost and revenue performance of Auckland Council's Building Control services for 2012/13 and 2013/14.

We looked at the cost of getting a building consent for a residential and a commercial building in Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, and Auckland (see Figure 6). Comparative analysis is difficult because each local authority has different building value "thresholds" and building categories. Further inspections or processing work may be required, which adds to the cost.

Figure 6
What selected local authorities say they charge for building consents

Type of consent/chargeProject valueGST-inclusive costComments
Auckland Council
All building work $100,000-$500,000 $3,752
All building work $500,000 and over $5,734
Code of compliance $100,000-$500,000 $455
Technical officers' hourly charge-out rates $135-$177
Pre-application meeting fee $265
Christchurch City Council
Residential building $100,000- $300,000 $3,310 Assumes eight inspections
Commercial building $500,000-
$1 million
$9,140 Assumes 15 inspections
Code of compliance (residential) $340
Technical officers' hourly charge-out rates $165-$280
Pre-application meeting fee Varies First 30 minutes free
Hamilton City Council
Residential – single storey Not relevant $4,510
Commercial building – up to two storeys Less than
$1 million
Code of compliance – urgent $190
Technical officers' hourly charge-out rate (commercial) $220
Pre-application meeting fee Not stated
Wellington City Council
Residential building $100,000-$500,000 $2,324 Assumes eight inspections
Commercial building $500,000-
$1 million
$3,595-$4,705 Assumes 13 inspections
Code of compliance (residential) $100
Pre-application meeting fee $159 If no more than two hours

Note: This information is from local authorities' websites and from Auckland Council. The fees are applicable from 1 July 2014 and include GST.

To get a picture of the actual costs of getting a building consent in Auckland, Auckland Council supplied data from which the information in Figure 7 was extracted.

Figure 7
Auckland Council's average actual charges for building consents, July-December 2013

Consent typeProject valueAverage GST-inclusive costComments
New residential $300,000-$399,000 $6,251 Based on a sample of 551 consents
Residential alterations and renovations $20,000-$100,000 $3,318 Based on a sample of 1102 consents
New commercial $400,000-$500,000 $9,055 Based on a sample of 12 consents
New commercial More than $500,000 $19,553 Based on a sample of 109 consents

Building Control revenue in 2013/14 was significantly more than 2012/13 actual revenue and 2013/14 budgeted revenue because of an increase in the number of consent applications (see Figure 8).

Figure 8
Financial performance of Auckland Council's Building Control department, 2012/13 and 2013/14

2012/13 actual
2013/14 actual
2013/14 budget
Revenue 59,028 65,625 59,929
Personnel costs (34,360) (36,732) (34,384)
Professional services (7,845) (8,834) (5,791)
Other direct costs (2,256) (2,544) (2,008)
Surplus* 14,567 17,515 17,746

* Before indirect costs and overhead allocations. The revenue figures include approximately $9.8 million of Land Information Memorandum and other property information product revenue.

The increase in 2014 operating expenditure over budgeted expenditure is because of:

  • additional costs in meeting accreditation requirements on qualifications; and
  • additional processing and inspection roles created to respond to the projected significant increase in building consent and inspection activity triggered by the Special Housing Areas.

The overall result for 2014 was marginally below budget.

In Auckland Council's Annual Report 2013/14, the total of indirect charges and overhead allocation for all regulatory activity (building consents, resource consents, and licensing and compliance) was $55 million, which is 28% of total costs.

Our observations about consent fee structure

It is difficult to compare local authorities' building consent costs, because they use different project value thresholds and describe project types differently. They do not show the additional processing and inspection time that might be required. This additional time is charged at hourly rates. However, these figures provide an opportunity for Auckland Council to discuss differences and opportunities with other local authorities. The range raises questions, particularly about charges for code compliance certificates.

In May 2014, MBIE published the results of a survey of building consent authorities, carried out in 2013. The survey revealed the average total cost to a customer of getting a building consent and code compliance certificate (see Figure 9).

Figure 9
Average total cost to a customer of a building consent and code compliance certificate, 2013

TypeAverage total cost
Residential simple $1,680
Residential complex $2,870
Commercial simple $2,380
Commercial complex $4,967

Note: Based on responses from 48 building consent authorities.

It is difficult to meaningfully compare the costs that Auckland Council charges, because the MBIE survey categorises consent applications differently to Auckland Council.

However, as Figure 7 shows, it is apparent that the actual building consent costs in Auckland are considerably higher than the initial deposit costs listed in their schedule of charges as shown in Figure 6. This suggests that additional processing time and/or inspections are required. This needs further consideration and monitoring as the time required to process an application is greater when the application is seen as incomplete or of lower quality.

page top