MultiProof: Faster, smarter building consents for volume builders

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MultiProof, a new streamlined national multiple-use approval service for volume builders, has been launched by Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson.
“Without compromising quality and safety, MultiProof fast-tracks building consents for standard, multiple-use building designs. It will save time and money for consumers and builders,” Mr Williamson says.

“Volume builders can now apply to the Department of Building and Housing for MultiProof approval to certify a building design for multiple use that meets building code requirements.”
Until now volume builders have been required to have the same design assessed and approved each time that design is used.
“That stifling process and duplication was unproductive with no benefit to the consumer or the builder. With MultiProof designs, only site-specific conditions will need to be checked by local councils, reducing the time frame for building consent decisions from 20 days to just 10 days,” Mr Williamson says.

MultiProof is the first initiative from the Government’s Better Building Blueprint.
Registered Master Buildings Federation chief executive Warwick Quinn describes Multiproof as a great initiative. “We welcome this streamlined consenting process for multiple-use designs. I believe we will quickly see real benefits for the sector and our clients,” Mr Quinn says.

What are National Multiple-Use Approvals? 
The Building Amendment Act (passed in July 2009) enables the Department of Building and Housing to issue National Multiple-Use Approvals from 1 February 2010.
A MultiProof stamp of approval from the DBH means that a specific set of plans and specifications for a building complies with the Building Code. Building Consent Authorities must accept MultiProof approval as evidence of Building Code compliance.

MultiProof approval is not, and does not replace, a building consent. MultiProof designs will enable a design to be built without needing to seek further approval of Building Code compliance.
To reflect the time saving, the statutory time frame for Building Consent Authorities to issue a building consent for a MultProof design is just 10 days, reduced from the current 20 days.
MultiProof is the first initiative from the Government’s Better Building Blueprint. The Blueprint is a package of changes being launched over the next few months.
Collectively, these initiatives will make it easier for New Zealanders to build good homes and buildings, without compromising quality.

What is a volume builder?

Volume builders can apply for a MultiProof approval. A volume builder could be from any of the following categories: 
• group home builders,
• garage and shed franchisers,
• suppliers of kitset buildings,
• retirement village builders, where they are involved in constructing their standard designs several times, and
• those builders who replicate a building design more than 10 times in a two-year period.

Why has MultiProof been developed?
MultiProof is the result of the Government and the building industry working together to streamline the building consenting process and remove duplication of effort.
Currently, volume builders are required to have the same design assessed and approved each time the design is built.

This level of duplication and unproductive effort contributes to the price of a home being unrealistic for home owners. It causes delays in the time taken for these buildings to be available to their owners. These factors add to the frustration and uncertainty experienced by builders and home owners alike.
A survey conducted last year by the DBH indicated that a large number of builders are interested in Multiproof, and that many planned to lodge applications in the first year.

What is the Better Building Blueprint?

The Better Building Blueprint is a package of changes being launched over the next few months. Collectively, these initiatives will make it easier for New Zealanders to build good homes and buildings, without compromising quality.

The Blueprint introduces the “next generation of building control”, combining quality and cost effectiveness. Other initiatives will be implemented over the next few months, and include:
• consultation on the Building Act Review,
• streamlining of the Licensed Building Practitioner scheme, and
• the launch of the Simple Homes Compliance Document.

What are the benefits of MultiProof?

MultiProof will mean faster processing times at the local level for building consents. This is the result of reduced duplication for volume builders and, therefore, lower costs for the industry.

The key benefits for volume builders participating in the service include:
• significant cost savings, 
• quicker turnaround times for the local Building Consent Authorities part of the consent process, and
• the ability for builders to pass cost savings on to their customers.
MultiProof will benefit group home builders, suppliers of kitset buildings or garages and those builders involved in constructing the same buildings on a large scale (such as retirement villages).

How will MultiProof ensure high quality building is achieved?
Designs with MultiProof approval will still be required to meet the current quality standards for that type of building. This initiative is about reducing costs, not cutting corners.
As processes are streamlined and duplication is reduced, Building Consent Authorities will be able to concentrate on more complex consent applications.

What types of buildings will be eligible for MultiProof approval?

The service will initially focus on the following types of buildings:
• garages and sheds, and
• stand-alone or semi-detached houses up to two storeys.
In time, it is anticipated that the service will increase in scope to include light commercial buildings and other building structures.
Only entire buildings will be eligible, not building products or part-buildings. People wanting to have building products approved are referred to the DBH’s product certification service.

Will the Multiple-Use Approval service be evaluated? 
The DBH will be regularly evaluating service performance to ensure customer satisfaction and streamlined services are occurring in the first instance, and that the service’s outcomes are achieved over time. Customer feedback will form part of this evaluation.

What is the proposed fee structure for MultiProof applications?
Fees for processing MultiProof approvals will be charged on an hourly basis, as this will most accurately reflect the actual costs of each application.
The use of specialists will depend on the complexity of submitted designs, and may be necessary in areas such as fire protection and accessibility, if these are relevant considerations.

Detailed information about the fee structure for MultiProof applications is available at www.dbh.govt.nz/nmua.
How long will it take for a MultiProof approval to be granted?

When a MultProof application is received by the DBH, the application will be checked for completeness and, if necessary, applicants may be required to provide further information.
The DBH then has 40 working days to assess each design for Building Code compliance.

What happens following approval being granted?
When the MultiProof approval has been issued, the applicant can then apply to the local Building Consent Authority for a building consent.

The Building Consent Authority has 10 working days to issue a building consent. Granting this consent will require checking by the Building Consent Authority of the site conditions, foundations and utilities (such as water services), confirming that the proposed design meets the conditions of the MultiProof approval, and checking any planning requirements.

How much variation is allowed in each MultiProof design?
If variations to a MultiProof design are expected, these need to be included with the application. The application should include all the Bulding Code compliant changes and modifications the builder is seeking to their standard design.

Any variations will be considered at the same time as the initial design and as part of the overall approval process for that design. Variations cannot be approved if they were not included on an application form.

Where can I get more information about the National Multiple-Use Approval Service?

Further information about the National Multiple-Use Approval Service, and how to apply, can be obtained by visiting www.dbh.govt.nz/nmua, or by calling Advisor Client Services at the DBH on 04 817 4254.