The benefits of applying early for project information memoranda
There are benefits to applying for a project information memorandum (PIM) during the design phase of any building project and before applying for a building consent.
A PIM gives information about land and about legislative or regulatory requirements that might be relevant to any proposed building work. In most cases, a territorial authority issues a PIM. The exception is for proposed dam construction projects, where the territorial authority and the regional authority will each issue a PIM.
The purpose of the PIM is to provide the applicant with information that is pertinent to the design and construction of the proposed building project. It also identifies authorisations needed for the building work under any other legislation that has been notified to the territorial authority (eg, the Resource Management Act 1991, Smokefree Environments Act 1990, and the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality).
There are two ways to apply for a PIM. Consent applicants or designers can make a PIM application during the design phase of a project, before making a building consent application. An application for a building consent is also deemed to be an application for a PIM, if one has not been previously obtained.
Making an early application for a PIM offers definite advantages, as the information supplied by the territorial authority can usefully inform building design work and allow consent applicants or designers to seek other authorisations that might be needed to undertake a proposed building project well ahead of time.
Content of a PIM
Section 35 of the Building Act 2004 identifies the content of a PIM. The PIM will include information held by the territorial authority that is likely to be relevant to the proposed building work. This information will cover:
- any heritage status of the building and each 'special feature' of the land concerned. Special features include potential natural hazards or the likely presence of hazardous contaminants that are not apparent from the District Plan.
- relevant information in terms of any legislation that has been notified to the territorial authority by another statutory authority
- details of any existing stormwater or wastewater utility systems that relate to the proposed building work or are on, or adjacent to, the site of the proposed building work, or adjacent to the site of the proposed building work
- details of any authorisation required by the territorial authority (or required on behalf of a network utility operator). The PIM will state the requirements of the authorisation(s) and the conditions to which any authorisation will be subject.
- whether the proposed building may require a fire evacuation scheme (under section 21A of the Fire Service Act 1975)
- whether the territorial authority considers that notification to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust is likely to be required (under section 39 of the Act).
The PIM will also provide the applicant either with confirmation that building work may be undertaken or notification that building work may not be carried out. Any confirmation will be subject to the requirements of the Building Act, the requirements of a building consent being met, and all other necessary authorisations being obtained.
The PIM will focus on the 'land concerned', which means the land on which the proposed building work is to be carried out and any other land likely to affect or be affected by the building work.
A consent applicant or a designer working on their behalf can apply for a PIM at any time if they are considering carrying out building work where a building consent is required.
The PIM will provide information needed to address certain requirements during the design stage of a building project. These include disclosing issues such as potential natural hazards, hazardous contaminants, the details of stormwater and wastewater systems, and requirements for fire evacuation schemes.
Getting this information during the building design phase avoids risks that the building consent process might disclose unexpected requirements leading to costly additional design work or causing delays in obtaining building consents. Knowing potential site issues and designing to accommodate them can also speed up the subsequent building consent processing, as the building consent review process is likely to face fewer requirements for further information or potential flaws in the proposed building design.
A PIM also allows consent applicants or designers to identify requirements for various other authorisations at an early stage. The PIM will disclose requirements for authorisations that are required by the territorial authority or that have been notified to the territorial authority by another statutory authority, for example resource consents and Historic Places Trust approval.
The PIM can also give greater certainty to consent applicants or designers by confirming whether or not building work may be able to be undertaken.
An application for a PIM is made using Form 2 from the Building (Forms) Regulations 2004. Details to be completed include applicant details, the location of the proposed building, and a description of the proposed building project outlining:
- any change of building use
- the intended building life
- previous consents
- the estimated value of building work
- identification of matters involved in the proposed project, which may include:
- land contour alteration
- utility connections
- changes to building locations or dimensions
- changes to vehicle access
- work adjacent to roads or public places
- disposal of stormwater or wastewater
- building work near drains, sewers or water mains
- other matters that may require territorial authority authorisation.
The territorial authority can request any information it reasonably needs to identify requirements of any legislation applied by the territorial authority. For example, the application for a PIM should include enough information to determine if there are any associated Resource Management Act planning issues. This includes information such as contours and sunlight access plane drawing details. To give the necessary detail to the territorial authority, preliminary design plans should accompany the PIM application, but these do not need to include the comprehensive, technically detailed drawings and specifications required for building consent applications.
Any PIM application must be accompanied by the payment of a charge fixed by the territorial authority.
The territorial authority should issue the PIM within 20 working days of receiving the application, and can suspend the number of working days if more information is required from the applicant.
If the proposed building work relates to a dam, PIM applications should be made to both the territorial authority and the regional authority where the proposed building work is located. This applies whether or not the building is in whole or partly a dam. Building work associated with dams also includes work on appurtenant structures, which are structures integral to the proper functioning of the dam.
Further information about PIMs can be obtained from the Department of Building and Housing website or by phoning 0800 242 243.