An exploratory evaluation of a new national online consenting system in New Zealand
Government passes laws both through statute and regulation to protect people. The Building Act is one of such government regulation that obligatorily requires that buildings are designed and constructed for safety, health, development and the safeguard of people from possible injury. In March 2008, Government announced a package of initiatives intended to streamline the building regulatory consenting function. One of these initiatives was to investigate the feasibility of establishing a national online building consent application and lodgement tracking system, which could be used across all local government Territorial Authorities and Building Consent Authorities in New Zealand. Government is collaborating with the private sector to develop Geobuild, a set of standards for consumers, the construction sector and government that links all aspects of the construction process from design through to procurement, construction and maintenance. Geobuild will set minimum national standards and software protocols to allow information sharing between the private and public sectors. When interoperable the Geobuild standard are expected to improve productivity, building quality and safety and reduce building cost. The study evaluates the effectiveness of this proposed national online consenting system scheme in New Zealand. The larger study programme on which this paper is based intends to gather the perception of building control practitioners on this new scheme, as a form of preliminary evaluation. Also data will be collected through a questionnaire survey to homeowners/agents of completed homes. The intent is to provide an exploratory evaluation which could help institute the new scheme in New Zealand. The paper describes this larger study to put its relevance into perspective for the New Zealand construction industry and academia. The National online consenting system will potentially accelerate and provide consistency to the building process but can only flourish if a collaboration of all affected parties provides input to their aspects of the scheme.