Two Acts to fol­low closely

Matamata Chronicle - - Building Feature -

Ev­ery build­ing pro­ject must com­ply with the Re­source Man­age­ment Act 1991 (RMA) and the Build­ing Act 2004 (the Build­ing Act).

Th­ese laws define the sit­u­a­tions in which you need a re­source con­sent and/or a build­ing con­sent; and what you need to do to get them.

The process for get­ting your con­sents will be eas­ier if you know how the RMA and the Build­ing Act af­fect your pro­ject, and what you need to do to have your con­sents ap­proved.

This guide will take you through key ques­tions to con­sider and refers you to other sources of ad­vice.

The Re­source Man­age­ment Act 1991

The RMA pro­tects land and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Just be­cause you own a piece of land doesn’t mean you can do what you want on it or with it. The RMA recog­nises that our neigh­bours and oth­ers in our com­mu­ni­ties can be af­fected by our ideas for us­ing land and other re­sources – just as we can be af­fected by the plans of oth­ers.

By pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, the RMA also en­sures we con­sider the in­ter­ests of the com­mu­nity and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Ki­wis.

Un­der the RMA, re­gional coun­cils pre­pare re­gional plans that fo­cus on the man­age­ment of our air, wa­ter, land and soil.

City or dis­trict coun­cils pre­pare dis­trict plans that fo­cus on man­ag­ing as­pects of sub­di­vi­sion and land use that can af­fect the en­vi­ron­ment, such as the height, ap­pear­ance and lo­ca­tion of build­ings and signs, and the noise, glare and odour as­so­ci­ated with the ac­tiv­i­ties that take place in and around build­ings.

Ev­ery dis­trict or re­gional plan is dif­fer­ent and re­flects the de­sires and as­pi­ra­tions of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

What is a re­source con­sent?

The plans coun­cils pre­pare set out which ac­tiv­i­ties will re­quire a re­source con­sent.

A re­source con­sent is a for­mal ap­proval for such things as the use or sub­di­vi­sion of land, the tak­ing of wa­ter, the dis­charge of con­tam­i­nants in wa­ter, soil or air or the use or oc­cu­pa­tion of coastal space.

It’s not just new build­ings that may re­quire re­source con­sent. New use of an ex­ist­ing build­ing may also re­quire a re­source con­sent.

Just as coun­cil plans vary, the need for re­source con­sents varies from one area to an­other.

If the ac­tiv­ity you want to carry out isn’t clearly iden­ti­fied as ei­ther a per­mit­ted or pro­hib­ited ac­tiv­ity in the plan, then you must ob­tain a re­source con­sent.

If you need cer­tainty, coun­cils can is­sue cer­tifi­cates of com­pli­ance for per­mit­ted ac­tiv­i­ties con­firm­ing that the ac­tiv­ity is law­fully es­tab­lished.

The Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment has a se­ries of 14 book­lets called An Ev­ery­day Guide to the RMA.

Get­ting in on the Act ex­plains the pur­pose of the Act, and pro­vides some ex­am­ples of how it works.

You can find copies at your lo­cal coun­cil, or on the Min­istry for the En­vi­ron­ment’s web­site.

The Build­ing Act 2004

The Build­ing Act cov­ers the con­struc­tion, al­ter­ation, de­mo­li­tion and main­te­nance of new and ex­ist­ing build­ings through­out New Zealand.

It sets stan­dards and pro­ce­dures for peo­ple in­volved in build­ing work (in­clud­ing li­cens­ing of build­ing prac­ti­tion­ers) to en­sure build­ings are safe, healthy, and built right first time.

It cov­ers how work can be done, who can do it, and when it needs to be con­sented and in­spected.

The Build­ing Act as it re­lates to build­ings is im­ple­mented by lo­cal dis­trict and city coun­cils.

Un­der the Act, the Build­ing Code de­fines the min­i­mum stan­dards build­ings must meet.

In con­trast to the plans pre­pared un­der the RMA, the Build­ing Code pro­vides a com­mon set of min­i­mum rules for the whole of New Zealand.

What is a build­ing con­sent?

A build­ing con­sent is a for­mal ap­proval granted by your lo­cal coun­cil un­der the Build­ing Act that al­lows a per­son to carry out build­ing work.

Build­ing work in­cludes work in con­nec­tion with the con­struc­tion, al­ter­ation, de­mo­li­tion or re­moval of a build­ing. A coun­cil will is­sue a build­ing con­sent only when it is sat­is­fied the pro­posed build­ing work will meet the re­quire­ments of the Build­ing Code.

You can­not carry out any build­ing work un­less you have a build­ing con­sent.

There are a few mi­nor ex­cep­tions to this set out in Sched­ule 1 of the Build­ing Act. For ex­am­ple, decks un­der 1m in height; and re­tain­ing walls less than 1.5m high that do not sup­port any sur­charge or any ad­di­tional load such as ve­hi­cles on a road.

All build­ing work must meet the min­i­mum re­quire­ments of the Build­ing Code even if no build­ing con­sent is re­quired.

Note: Be­fore you start de­tailed plan­ning, spend time on shap­ing your ideas, gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion and talk­ing to the right peo­ple early to save time and money for years to come.

In a world of leaky homes and draughty colo­nial ren­o­va­tions, eco-de­sign has en­tered the main­stream of hous­ing con­struc­tion.

But the process can be daunt­ing for first-time green home-builders.

Eco-de­sign ad­viser Sarah Fleet says a well-de­signed home is usu­ally cosier and health­ier.

‘‘A smart house de­sign that op­ti­mises the use of the sun through ori­en­ta­tion, ther­mal mass and high lev­els of in­su­la­tion can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the times dur­ing the year you will need to heat or cool the house. This means lower run­ning costs through­out the life of the home,’’ Ms Fleet said.

But it’s cru­cial that de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects are ‘‘on the same page’’ as clients in terms of their as­pi­ra­tions for how the new home will be used.

‘‘I en­cour­age peo­ple to de­sign around so­lar heat­ing – ori­en­tat­ing the house and as many win­dows as pos­si­ble to­wards the north, with the kitchen east-fac­ing and liv­ing ar­eas west- fac­ing,’’ she said.

‘‘I also en­cour­age peo­ple to think about so­lar mass – how ma­te­ri­als can ab­sorb heat dur­ing win­ter days for slow re­lease overnight, and its op­po­site ef­fect in sum­mer.’’

A sus­tain­able home will min­imise its im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment.

This can be achieved by care­fully choos­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ma­te­ri­als, an ap­pro­pri­ate site where the min­i­mum of dis­rup­tion is re­quired, as well as wa­ter and en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances.

Ms Fleet sug­gests home­builders in­su­late above build­ing code lev­els, think about how the home will be heated, in­vest in good ex­trac­tor fans in the kitchen and bath­rooms, and take into ac­count the em­bod­ied en­ergy of ma­te­ri­als – a sys­tem that tal­lies the sum of all en­ergy used in the pro­duc­tion and de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of a build­ing prod­uct over its en­tire life­span.

As the sus­tain­able ethic be­gins to merge with the main­stream of con­struc­tion, down­siz­ing should also be­come a pri­or­ity.

‘‘The main thing is mod­esty – peo­ple over­look how small things can be and make them a lot big­ger than they need to, ‘‘ says ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer Joseph Ni­cholls, of the Sus­tain­abil­ity Trust.

‘‘Con­sider liv­ing more ef­fi­ciently in a smaller house that is more com­pact.’’

Es­chew­ing re­source­heavy sta­tus sym­bols and point­less con­sump­tion should also be em­braced. ‘‘It means let­ting go of things like swim­ming pools, ten­nis courts or an en­suite for your 5-year-old child.’’

How you live in your home also makes a dif­fer­ence. Pump­ing the heat up while walk­ing around in shorts in win­ter is not go­ing to help re­duce your car­bon foot­print.

About 17 per cent – of New Zealand’s car­bon emis­sions comes from the con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion of build­ings, which means the ‘‘em­bod­ied en­ergy’’ of build­ing ma­te­ri­als and how your home is run are also se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tions.

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