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Mixed trends in recent building activity

During March and April 2009 the Department of Building and Housing asked all registered territorial authorities that are building consent authorities to provide information about building consents granted during the first eight months of the 2008/09 financial year.

The useful information received from the 72 authorities confirms the scale and value of ongoing building activity throughout New Zealand, as well as giving an indication of the economic recession's impact to date on the building sector nationally and in different districts.

Building consent numbers, value of work and fee income down nationally, but up in some areas

Territorial authorities granted around 56,000 building consents during the eight months from 1 July 2008 to 28 February 2009. The total combined value of the consented building work during the period was around $7.4 billion.

Month-by-month figures indicate a national trend downwards in the total number of consents. However, allowing for the usual seasonal downturn in January, some districts appear to have maintained steady or increasing numbers of consents. A comparison of the eight-month totals in the accompanying table with 60 percent of the total number of consents granted in the 2007/08 year1 indicates the overall number of building consents has reduced by roughly 10 percent so far this year.The same comparison for individual authorities indicates that the number of consents may have decreased by close to 40 percent in some districts, while in other districts the number of consents has actually increased by up to 30 percent.

A similar comparison of the value of consented building work2 and the total consent processing and inspection fee income3 received by the authorities indicates that, without any CPI adjustment, there has been an overall national decrease in the reported value of building work and of consent processing and inspection fee income of around 4 to 5 percent.

Building consent processing times improve

Seventy of the 72 authorities4 provided information on building consent processing times during the four months from November 2008 to February 2009. Of the 22,000 building consents issued during that period by those 70 authorities, 20,000 (91 percent) were granted within 20 working days of receipt of the consent application.

While this is still short of the 100 percent required by the Building Act (a target which many authorities did consistently meet each month), this represents a steady improvement in performance, partly due to the reducing number of consents in many districts.

Trends in the type of building work

The Department also requested information about the type of building work being approved. In particular, authorities were asked for the number of consents issued each month for the following types of buildings.

  • New residential (houses and apartments).
  • Additions and alterations to existing residential.
  • New buildings other than residential.
  • Alterations to existing buildings other than residential.

Unfortunately the wide variations between authorities' internal categorisations of consented building work meant that the data could not be reliably compared. This has highlighted a need for guidance on the categorisation of building work to enable meaningful data comparison.

Future requests for building consent information

The Department intends to make a similar data request in July 2009 covering the remaining four months of this financial year (March - June 2009). Thereafter, it is likely that similar requests will be made on a four-monthly basis (in November, March and July of each year). A spreadsheet data template will be provided to ensure a consistent approach in collecting the information.

The information gathered will also feed into the Department's regular quarterly publication, Building and Housing Trends Report. To subscribe to this or other publications by the Department, visit www.dbh.govt.nz/subscribe   

Territorial Authority
Number of building consents issued from 1 Jul 08 to 28 Feb 09 Jul-08 Aug-08 Sep-08 Oct-08 Nov-08 Dec-08 Jan-09 Feb-09
Ashburton District 696 123 84 107 116 68 73 57 68
Auckland City 3834 567 502 521 549 476 234 481 504
Buller District 278 49 38 29 30 41 34 18 39
Carterton District 226 30 30 22 26 39 22 31 26
Central Hawke's Bay District 274 46 32 54 44 29 32 8 29
Central Otago District 544 77 89 85 64 67 60 40 55
Christchurch City 3889 545 712 579 519 486 417 320 530
Clutha District 417 89 62 45 68 55 35 26 37
Dunedin City 1866 302  300  248  183  173  295   189  176
Far North District 854 140  105  146  112  108  102  56   85
Franklin District 875        154   115  103  126  96  116  70   95
Gisborne District 785      149  97  117  125  71  99  65    62
Gore District 348   73  37  56  62  35  39  9    37
Grey District Not provided 41  36  Not provided  29  34  78  13   36
Hamilton City 1058 180  139  161  122  121  154   80   101
Hastings District 984 161  122  171  134  102  102  99   93
Hauraki District 347 77  63  42  28  39  37  28   33
Horowhenua District 435 105  54  77  37  56  31  29   46
Hurunui District 291  50  57 43 19 26  47  16 33 
Hutt City 708 109  93  98  58  95  137  58  60 
Invercargill City 1426 188  208  234  230  146  153  118  149 
Kaikoura District 118  16  12  25  15  16  17 
Kaipara District 448 73  63  63  74  51  52  32  40 
Kapiti Coast District 669 132  103  86  78  71  80  63  56 
Kawerau District 59  12  12 
Mackenzie District 159 27  18  23  31  26  17  21 
Manawatu District 490 107  52  88  63  53  54  32  43 
Manukau City 1819 276  213  289  260  224  181  151  225 
Marlborough District 1185 160  184  201  135  119  139  119  128 
Masterton District 522 61  64  86  77  64  66  42  62 
Matamata-Piako District 609 102  79  106  78  87  36  57  64 
Napier City 727  99  104  118  84  83  82  86  71 
Nelson City 831 115  102  112  125  83  115  72  107 
New Plymouth District 1191  172  134  151  119  178  160  141  136 
North Shore City 1814 251  207  162  235  263  287  183  226 
Opotiki District 158 22  26  22  18  23  14  13  20 
Otorohanga District 251 48  51  28  38  31  20  30 
Palmerston North City 790 141  121  96  112  101  80  46  93 
Papakura District 411 65  56  53  51  56  52  41  37 
Porirua City 474 66  71  72  70  61  45  44  45 
Queenstown-Lakes District 847 125  133  109  125  108  71  88  89 
Rangitikei District 235 45  24  35  30  27  31  26  17 
Rodney District 1343         181  239  165  188  187  146  120  117 
Rotorua District 950      163 138  129  120  92  101  77 130 
Ruapehu District 229        35  32  23   37  28  28  24  22 
Selwyn District 1178 183  176 188  148  154  150  71  108 
South Taranaki District 535         70  66  72  64  45  51  35  32 
South Waikato District 441 80  60  55  63  77  52  14  40 
South Wairarapa District 328         52  47  45  33  42  43  32  34 
Southland District 1220         208  158  187  177  164  124  99  103 
Stratford District 215 30 33  25 25  27   23 19  33 
Tararua District 389 66  60  52  44  50 39 33  44 
Tasman District 889 134  94  136  135  117  102  82  89 
Taupo District 759 119  115  104  88  89   73   76  95 
Tauranga City 1249  217  171  181  178  149  108  113  132 
Thames-Coromandel District 769  116  106  99  126  109  97  48  68 
Timaru District 1055  181  137  136  141  147  129  73  111 
Upper Hutt City 470  77  72  63  70  56  36  32  64 
Waikato District 717  131  100  94  113  87  66  62  64 
Waimakariri District 798  137  117  120  85  104  86  54  95 
Waimate District 219  43  25  28  28  27  23  21  24 
Waipa District 848  137  145  117  101  111  85  81  71 
Wairoa District 130  23  18  15  16  22  17  10 
Waitakere City 1163 137  137  121  126  171  162  159  150 
Waitaki District 454  72  79  60  55  47  48  58  35 
Waitomo District  199 25  34  19  20  19  18  32  32 
Wanganui District 752  160  95  101  80  107  101  60  48 
Wellington City 1967  287  354  273  220  269  211  162  191 
Western Bay of Plenty District 802  136  125  96  110  105  84  75  71 
Westland District 247  48  27  29  44  44  28  23  23 
Whakatane District 524 78 51 85 80 52  54  55  69 
Whangarei District 1009 184 106 86 141 186   118 78  110 
TOTALS 55,790 8880 7921 7759 7352 6977 6315 4983 6014 


1 Sixty percent of the 2007/08 total equates to a little under 7.5 months. This is to account for typically low consent numbers in January.
2Based on responses from 71 of the 72 registered authorities (Grey District information on building work value for the current year was not available).
3Based on responses from 67 of the 72 registered authorities (Christchurch City, Franklin District, Grey District, Hutt City and Southland District information on fee income was not available for one or other of the years being compared).
4Christchurch City and Southland District information was not available.