Taking it to (the) Max: Getting building consents right

Taking it to (the) Max: Getting building consents right

Chances are that if we’re working on a client’s project, we’ll need to get building consents.

Building consents are generally a lot of admin. Sometimes they really feel like a thorn in our sides; they take a lot of paperwork, and if mis-handled, can really slow down design and fit-out progress. But building consents are probably the number one thing that ensure we’re working in and on projects that are going to be safe, durable and enduring.

And for that reason, we’ll continue to stay on top of them – and that’s why we’re also so keen to front-foot the consents process to keep our projects moving forward. So why is the consents process so important?

It’s integral to the fit-out journey

When you set out on a fit-out or build project, you invariably encounter building consents. If you want to make additions, alterations, or do any work on plumbing, then that’s a full application; if the work falls under ‘replacement’ or ‘interior alterations’, for example, then you may be exempt.

Whether it’s major works, minor works, or exemptions, consents still require all the formal paperwork. And it can be a minefield – especially for the uninitiated. Get it wrong, and a project can come to a standstill. 

Thankfully we have a dedicated in-house expert in Max Johnson, one of our project managers and building consents specialists, who keeps our projects moving forward. Max is involved in all the preparation, application and management of building consents, as well as engaging the right engineering consultants we need for consent applications, so his hands are in pretty much every project we work on. 

Since he works so closely with Datum’s in-house project managers and construction teams, he can establish construction methodologies up-front. With consent and consultation documents completed in a way that benefits the site teams, we lose less time to council and reduce our fit-out time so our clients are ready for launch as soon as possible.

Since consented works can’t start on-site until a consent is granted, Max pushes behind the scenes to fast-track the process to the councils so that there aren’t any hold-ups for our clients.

It’s a complex beast

If you’re on the outside, a fit-out can look pretty straightforward – which means we’ve done our job right! But behind the scenes, there’s a lot going on.

Any retail or commercial fit-out has to start with a review of the project drawings to determine whether we need to apply for consent or an exemption. If it’s exempt, then it’s pretty much a straight line to completion. Otherwise, engaging engineers – such as fire and structural experts – is needed to get their formal guidance and ensure that the project is safe.

Once we’ve prepared or updated a drawing package (with the relevant code standards and key elements, and qualified engineer and designer sign-offs), we fire it through to the council. Here’s where accuracy matters. The review and assessment process for a council can take 20 working days, so compiling an accurate and carefully vetted application can mean the difference between launching a project on time or being delayed by a month. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced designer and consents expert on hand to check over your applications and make sure they’re going to get approved. You need that green light to start a fit-out!

Getting it right is part of the process

When you’re looking to set up a new shop or office, you might not be aware of the consultants, coordination, costs, and documentation that’s required for building consents. So, to reduce everyone’s stress, and to ensure a smooth transition from design to fit-out, we recommend finding a safe pair of hands that’ll take care of it all, and engage the right people to get the best outcomes from the start.

Communication’s a key factor here. Our management of the various processes means that clients can rest easy knowing their application is in good hands, and that they’ll be kept in the loop of progress and changes as they happen. That helps reduce pressure, and means that our clients can focus on moving in on time.