Renovation Roadblocks: What To Look Out For

Your renovation should go like this: Concept – Plan – Consent – Build – Satisfaction!

But too often, that straightforward journey hits roadblocks along the way, which end up slowing the process down or stalling it for weeks on end.

The consent stage can be particularly tricky to navigate. Dealing with the council, the Unitary plan and new building rules can be time consuming and frustrating – even for experienced builders and designers. If you’re doing it yourself and don’t fully understand the process, it can be even worse.

At MyHome Renovations we use experienced architectural designers who have worked on hundreds of renovations over the years. They have become pretty good at dealing with issues and managing common roadblocks along the way.

Here are some of the issues they see most often – and how they get around them:

 

Consent complications

Dealing with consents is probably the most common renovation roadblock.

Resource consents relate to the shared council resources you and your property use – like space, water, and sunlight. Building consents are about the state of the house itself – it needs to be structurally sound, free from leaks and safe to live in.

While most renovations require a building consent, resource consent is only needed when a design breaks one of the council rules – for example, if it goes over the height-to-boundary ratio or affects the drainage in some way.

Applying for consent is pretty straightforward, but actually getting it can be harder. The council is supposed to review plans within a set timeline, but they often ask for clarification or changes to plans at the last minute.

When you work with MyHome you don’t have to worry about this sort of thing.  The consenting process isn’t just quicker – in most cases, it’s invisible. Our designers send out responses to the council’s RFIs (Request for Information) swiftly, call the council to make sure they’re following up, and generally keep on top of everything so the consent process keeps moving along.

Generally speaking MyHome clients only see about 1% of the stress and headaches and phone calls that our designers have to deal with. They have to really keep on top of the council.

 

Engineering involvement

In the wake of the leaky building crisis of the 1990s and early 2000s, Allan says that councils seem to be much more cautious about approving building plans. In many ways, this is a positive thing – after all, it’s better to avoid problems than spend millions solving them later. On the other hand, it can throw up some serious roadblocks for renovators.

Unfortunately there’s less room for builders to use their common sense. Even though the MyHome team includes qualified architects and builders who know how to design and build structurally sound buildings, the council will often require them to get an engineer’s approval for anything that varies from the building code. This adds time and expense to your project, and in our opinion, isn’t always necessary.

The MyHome team tries to mitigate this roadblock by going in to bat for our clients particularly if we feel that the council is being overly cautious. We’ll also use all the tools at our disposal to make sure your plans meet code in the first place – for example, we use a new online tool to calculate the measurements for steel beams, avoiding the need for an engineer’s report.

But if it is required, the MyHome team has relationships with experienced engineers that can be called on to get it all sorted seamlessly.

 

Stormwater woes

Stormwater is an increasingly common issue for renovators in Auckland. The council is reluctant to add water to the already-strained stormwater system, so they now require people to include detention tanks for water when extensions to existing houses go over a certain size. This obviously adds to the cost of your project, takes extra planning and engineering, and takes up space on your property.

In Auckland where the sections are getting smaller and smaller, its unfortunate that the council often asks renovators to put a big water tank into their backyards.

This is particularly frustrating because homeowners are already paying for stormwater removal through their rates, so being forced to add detention tanks means they’re effectively paying twice. The MyHome designers argue this issue with the council frequently – with varying success.

 

Working through the roadblocks

Renovation roadblocks and problems sound scary, but they’re usually pretty manageable. With a team like MyHome working on your project, many will be handled without your involvement – we’ll sort out the plans, send them to council, follow up on delays and push back on anything we think is unfair. You’ll always be kept informed about what’s going on, but you won’t need to do anything yourself.

That kind of service is what makes working with MyHome so simple. You avoid the frustrating delays that are so common with renovations, and let the experts handle the ones that do arise.

 

Want to get started on your renovation project? Get in touch with the MyHome team now.

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