Several months ago, I was talking to HERA’s CEO Dr Troy Coyle regarding some of the positive advantages of early engagement on construction projects.

I reflected on the way our industry currently conducts business and the general way it manages change. It is because of this, or rather because of the lack of it, I believe this is where the most opportunity to add value to the project process lies.

Designs change even after consent has been obtained. I would suggest then that the more detailed a design is at the consent application stage, the more manageable those changes will be. This in my opinion is best achieved by early stake holder engagement.

This is particularly relevant between contractors and council.

Their relationship, collaboration and understanding of the project is crucial along the end to end regulatory journey including resource consents, building consents, inspections, approvals and final compliance certification. This relationship and early engagement assists making the project change management more effective and it would also significantly increase the efficiencies in the consenting process.

Simply put, the more detailed the design, the more council is informed and hence the fewer questions they have to ask.

I would urge, that rather than concentrating on the bottom line, more thought is given to value over the perceived and often unproven cost savings of a design and build contract model. If you do opt for a design and build contract model, recognise the difference. I would strongly support completing the design and obtain consent approval before itching to start the construction stage.

The fast track to construction as I call, it is very often accommodated by multiple or staged building consents. These in of themselves should not complicate or hinder the consenting process.

Unfortunately, they inevitably do.

The cause of this delay is nearly always incomplete design at the time of the application. These “early” applications traditionally focus on more at the front-end engineering and development stage rather than a design detailed able to be consented.

Ideally, develop a “Collaborative Consenting Framework” and move to an “Early engagement, collaborative, collective, partnership enabling environment”.


Guest commentary from Andrew Boyd.

Principal Project Lead, Building Consents, Auckland Council

NB: The opinions shared above are Andrew’s and aren’t necessarily that of, or endorsed by Auckland Council.