Media release: We hear you, Southland building industry

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We’ve been hearing a lot of frustration in the building community in the past week as work resumed under Alert Level 3. There’s been an expectation that our building team would have been able to deal with your consent applications as fast as they came in.

We’ve done our best, but the reality is we’re up against it at the moment.

In the first week of Alert Level 3 we received 122 COVID-19 building site safety plans to assess, along with the inspection bookings. This is a lot of extra admin to absorb into our small team.

We have a reduced workforce of building inspectors. Some of our team members are vulnerable and cannot be exposed to the risk of contracting the virus. This takes them off the road. We also have contractors outside the region we would normally call on at pinch times such as this but they can’t do the work for us because of the restriction on inter-regional travel.

Because of the extra layer of communication relating to health and safety before an inspector can set foot on your site, we’re down from an average five or six inspections per inspector per day, to just four.

On our first day of inspections we had only one person on the road as we trialled new procedures and adjusted our approach for safety.

We’ve had to introduce new systems and commit staff from within our own small team to book inspections. Our existing system wasn’t set up for the additional administration of dealing with health and safety site plans.

Our new GoGET software, which allows our inspectors to process your consent applications online, went live this week. In normal times this would be a tremendous help to us speeding up processing your consents, but these aren’t normal times. It will take a few weeks for our team to become familiar with the system when they are already feeling pressure to carry out more inspections.

Our inspectors are pulling crazy hours trying to meet your expectations, and this is not sustainable.

We’re not trying to make excuses. This is the hand we’ve been dealt right now and we’re trying to give you all the information we have, so that we can each fully understand the situation we find ourselves in.

We really want to help you get your building work consented and up and running, to help
kickstart the local economy and get people’s lives back on track. We’re frustrated, too, that we aren’t able to go any faster.

We’re also trying to give everybody a fair go. We’re getting a lot of private inquiries from industry trying to push their job up the queue, but queue-jumping doesn’t work at a fast food takeaway any more than it works for a building control authority. Please go through the correct channels and email us at building-cs@southlanddc.govt.nz

We’re asking for patience and a little compassion as our team works very hard to get through a huge programme of work and give you the level of service you deserve.
Please bear with us. We’re doing the best we can at a stressful time.

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