Back in my day ...
Allow me to rant for just a moment.
2007 has been a frustrating year in many ways. Certainly a frustrating year for freedom lovers, and in almost every way a frustrating year for most people in the building industry. New regulations, new impositions, longer lead periods and higher costs for every part of the building programme, 'voluntary' registration of the builders and designers who remain in the industry ...
The greater intrusion can be seen in a simple comparison of building consent documentation through the years, and the time and paper taken to produce it.
Building consent applications take three times longer to prepare than they did just ten years ago and four times as much paper to produce as they did twenty years ago, and (it often seems) it takes about five times longer and quite a few dollars more to process -- not to mention the time taken for resource consent applications, and in extra inspections once you start.
One hundred years ago most houses were built on the basis of one A3 sheet of plans (sometimes) an A4 handwritten specification clipped to the sheet. These are the sturdy houses of yesteryear that ring our major cities in which the chattering classes of today now love to live. Today, those same plans would get you thrown out of the council offices, (the size and growing population of which tell their own story about the growth of intrusive regulation), and to renovate the houses it now takes longer to produce the plans than it does to do the work.
The nonsense only started in recent decades. Twenty years ago your typical house could be built with about five pages of plans and maybe twenty A4 pages of specifications. Those buildings still hold up well today.
Ten years ago things were starting to get more complicated, with the paper required to lodge a building consent for a simple house doubling from what it was ten years before -- and, naturally, fewer of those pages were now being read -- but little did we know the explosion in time-consuming bullshit that was about to come.
In the last five years, and in this last year particularly, producing and guiding an application between the Scylla and Charybdis of the building and resource consent process seems the work of Sisyphus, not of Ulysses. It used to be fun. It's not any more.
A client was telling me yesterday that he was going through the paperwork of a deal made about ten years ago: he bought a section conditionally on the basis of getting a resource consent for subdividing the place into three units. Seven weeks later he was breaking ground, with building and resource consents in tow. These days, he'd have to buy unconditionally, and have to suffer the holding costs and uncertainties of a much, much, much longer wait.
More time, more unnecessary costs, bullshit and bureaucracy (and bureaucrats) increasing by the month. And are our houses really better for it?
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