Does your gar­den shed need a con­sent?

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By SI­MON SMITH

Should re­tail­ers have to tell cus­tomers about whether they need build­ing con­sent for a gar­den shed?

In sub­ur­ban Auck­land many de­tached build­ings are il­le­gally placed closer to a boundary or house than their height al­lows.

How­ever, Bun­nings Ware­house and Mitre 10 Mega both put the re­spon­si­bil­ity on the cus­tomer.

The com­pa­nies say shop­pers should al­ways check with the coun­cil to see if build­ing con­sent is needed.

Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Min­is­ter Mau­rice Wil­liamson says people can ask their coun­cil for an ex­emp­tion if they be­lieve their shed is not a fire risk to neigh­bours. An Auck­land Coun­cil spokes- per­son says it doesn’t re­ceive many ex­emp­tion ap­pli­ca­tions but it re­quires a $308 de­posit with the fi­nal cost based on the time taken to process the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The rule ex­ists be­cause of the po­ten­tial fire risk to other build­ings.

How­ever, the coun­cil is only con­cerned enough to take ac­tion against non­com­pli­ant sheds if some­body com­plains.

Au­cland res­i­dent Rashna Tata’s case was in­ves­ti­gated when an anony­mous com­plaint was laid fol­low­ing a dis­pute with a neigh­bour.

Ratepayer money was spent vis­it­ing her property and forc­ing her to record the of­fend­ing kit set build­ing on her Land In­for­ma­tion Me­moran­dum or get a ‘‘no­tice to fix’’, at a cost of $230.

Her sit­u­a­tion went na­tional on stuff.co.nz, prompt­ing 150 com­ments, many ex­press­ing dis­be­lief.

‘‘Just an­other ex­am­ple of pri­vate property rights be­ing tram­pled by stupid laws, petty neigh­bours and overzeal­ous of­fi­cials,’’ one said.

And an­other: ‘‘I swear, the bu­reau­cracy in this coun­try is com­pletely out of con­trol!’’

Fire risk man­age­ment of­fi­cer Phil Fai­d­ley says there is oc­ca­sion­ally a fire in a gar­den shed and whether it spreads de­pends on the build­ing, its con­tents and how quickly it is dis­cov­ered and con­tained.

‘‘It does hap­pen, but I don’t know if it is that fre­quent,’’ Fai­d­ley says.

Wil­liamson says the height-to-boundary rule ex­ists for small build­ings no more than one storey that do not ex­ceed 10 square me­tres in floor area.

Home own­ers can ap­ply for an ex­emp­tion if, for ex­am­ple, the neigh­bour­ing sec­tion has no build­ing on it, he says. ‘‘The build­ing con­sent process en­sures the ap­pro­pri­ate fire safety re­quire­ment checks are done on the build­ing.’’

Photo: SI­MON SMITH

Lined up: Sheds for sale out­side a Mitre 10 Mega store. Many shop­pers place them il­le­gally against their house or fence.

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