Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Shed Saga

Last Monday Heather got home from work to discover a card left by a City Council building inspector, saying "Stop work on the shed". Next morning Herb called him, and was told that we have placed the shed too close to the fence - but, said Herb, the shed is less than 10 sq.m so it doesn't need a permit. Aha, said the BI, and quoted the Building Act 2004; it turns out that even if it's less than 10 sq.m, a shed must be as far from a fence as it is high. In our case that's 2.5m. This was news to us - and to Herb, who has built 3 or 4 of these sheds for people without any issues until now.
Le Shed de Herb, source of this week's drama.
However, the inspector then said that if we can get the neighbours to agree that the shed isn't a nuisance, we can possibly go ahead. But the BI also sent a Notice To Fix in Wednesday's mail, threatening $200,000 fines, and putting Heather in a right tailspin.

The letter gave two options; 1-Remove the shed, 2-Shift the shed to 2.5m from the fence. The BI recommended that if we wanted the shed to remain in its location, we follow option 2, then apply for a consent - but option 2 is to shift the shed, not leave it in its location! And if we did shift it, we'd comply with the Building Act, so by definition we wouldn't need a consent! I decided that playing logic and semantics probably wasn't very clever, though, and we should be nice.

So on Wednesday evening Heather and I went to visit the neighbours - the first were the Scots couple who share 80% of our back fence. No, they said, we're quite happy about your shed - especially as you supported our consent application for our pool. And they didn't phone the CCC, it was the guy next door to them, who shares about 3m of our back fence.

So we went next door to visit the complainant. It seems that he chopped down some trees/shrubs last weekend and went "Eek, a shed!" and rang the building inspectors. Anyway, he finally said that it really didn't affect him, and if the immediate neighbours were happy he'd go along with it.

On Thursday I called the BI, who sounded pretty reasonable, and said he'd need something in writing, naturally enough. That tea-time Heather visited the neighbours again and got signatures on a simple letter saying they had no objection. On Friday I scanned these and emailed them to the CCC, and by lunchtime we had the OK to proceed. The inspector said that although we're too close, there are sheds like this all over Christchurch and it wouldn't be fair to make an example of us. So we made a rare and precious find - a reasonable Building Inspector!

Anyway, Herb will return later this week to put the doors and windows in, and to construct the verandah floor - which has to be a separate structure, with no attachments to the shed. If it's attached, we'd go over the 10 sq.m, so the porch floor will sit on its own piles, 2cm apart from the main structure.  This is how government makes our lives better; I don't blame the CCC inspector, his job is to enforce the 2004 Act, but it seems to raise nit-picking to new heights.

1 comment:

Kris said...

Ha Ha Ha ...
We are enjoying this as we sit relaxing on Sat morning. What a fuss over nothing eh!
Might need a champagne roof shout with the neighbours.
K and E