Wanaka building consents boom

Building services manager Chris English says Wanaka building inspectors are doing an excellent job under pressure.

Building services manager Chris English says Wanaka building inspectors are doing an excellent job under pressure. Photo: Marjorie Cook

Wanaka’s building boom is set to continue, creating job opportunities in the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s building consent processing and inspection teams.

There were 712 total building consents issued for Wanaka in 2017, at an estimated value of $258 million, according to council data released to Stuff on February 28.

That’s a 45.6 per cent increase in total issued consents since 2014, when 489 consents were issued.

The value has increased 150.49 per cent from $103.5 million in 2014.

The bulk of 2017’s consents (348) were for new residential dwellings, worth $198.6 million. Wanaka’s non-residential construction consents were worth $59.2 million.

District-wide in 2017, the council issued a total of 1898 building consents (value $802 million), up from 1233 in 2014 (value $351 million).

Council building services manager Chris English said Wanaka’s building consents were increasing at a consistent pace to Queenstown, but Queenstown has more commercial projects “in full flight”, such as the Five Mile and Remarkables Park developments.

Commercial development in Wanaka was “not quite up there yet” but would soon come on line at Three Parks and Northlake, he said.

English moved from Timaru to take up his management role in June 2017 and lives in Wanaka. He divides his time between Queenstown and Wanaka offices.

He is pleased with the building services team’s actions to maintain accreditation with International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ).

“The most recent audit out in 2017 was probably the best assessment the Queenstown Lakes District Council has had in a significant number of years. . . We are now number five in New Zealand, which is pretty impressive for a district of about 40,000 people,” English said.

The team has increased from 25 employees to 37, but English is looking for more people with construction industry qualification and experience, IT skills and a willingness to build a career with the council.

One difficulty of recruiting was the nationwide shortage of qualified and experienced people, he said.

The other was the acknowledged high cost of housing in the district, where residential property price averages crept over the $1 million mark for the first time last year.

Recent recruits include an Auckland engineer and Australian electrician.

The council uses contractors to do about 50 per cent of the district’s consent processing work.

Contractors also do about 25 per cent of Queenstown’s building inspection work but the dedicated four member team in Wanaka are all employees, English said.

There was no competition for building team resources between the towns, because as each consent application came in, it was allocated to the first processing team member who had capacity to take the job.

Consent processing was a desk-based role and it did not matter if workers were in Queenstown or Wanaka, he said.

However, it was important to have dedicated Wanaka inspectors and English said he was getting good feedback about their work, even though the consistent increase in applications meant the team was under pressure.

“They are taking two days [to inspect], which is quite satisfactory. In Queenstown that can balloon out to three to five days. So the guys here are doing an excellent job,” English said.

– Stuff


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