I have been trying to make the phrase ‘conversation with the local council planner’ sound interesting. It can’t be done. Nevertheless, regardless of what it sounds like, it was great. He explained that above all things, I would require a resource consent to build on Mums land. Until recently, I had only the vaguest idea of what a resource consent actually was.
If you don’t know either, they’re essentially permission slips from the council to use land for a stated purpose. The planner told me that to build an average two bedroom home at Mums, the following must be included in my application:
- An ecologists report, to evaluate the trees and make sure I don’t take them all out and cause the topsoil to slide off the hill like ice-cream off a cone.
- A geotechnical report, to ensure that there isn’t a raging pool of lava right underneath where I want to lay the foundations.
- A herpetologists report. This is not a test for herpes. A herpetologist is a lizard expert who will estimate how many lizards and geckos could die when I build.
- A wastewater specialist report, to make sure my waste water is not going to bubble up and submerge the land in raw sewage.
- A building plan signed off by an architect, so they know I’ve actually got a plan and someone qualified thinks it will work.
- An application for exemption from a carpark application, promising not to park in the bus stop even though I can’t park my car on site.
- An access plan outlining a sensible means of transporting materials to the site, in case I am abnormally stupid and think I can just roll it all down the hill.
- A waiver from the neighbours stating they are happy with my plan, and that they don’t find my intended paint colours offensive.
- The cost of all this is roughly $25,000. That includes the fees of all the experts involved, the deposit fee to council, and a planning consultant fee, if I use one. It doesn’t include a building consent.
The final result of this task had two aspects. First, I don’t have $25,000. In the eyes of the property developing community, I am a pauper. I’ve decided it’s best to ignore this detail. Second, I have concluded that I don’t want a standard two-bedroom average home. I want something both cheaper and more beautiful. I also want to get off the grid – but with consent. It is important to me that home ownership doesn’t wind up owning me, and so I want something that is legal, affordable and healthy to live in. This is something the planner couldn’t really help me with. His vision of an eco-home was quite limited, and my ability to describe what I meant was equally so. Thus the conversation ended, and now my next task is clear. I need to find a professional person with experience and imagination to interrogate.
But for now… it’s Christmas.