Learning curve

Practical help with alternative solutions

With support from the Department, BRANZ is holding a seminar series throughout New Zealand in May on alternative solutions.

Designers and building consent authority staff have asked for more information on options available to show Building Code compliance for consent documents that are outside the scope of an Acceptable Solution.

The seminars are intended to help designers and building officials in preparing and assessing alternative solutions. The seminars will also be of interest to product suppliers and manufacturers.The seminars will address:

  • what is an alternative solution
  • how Building Code compliance can be demonstrated
  • what level of detail and supporting information is needed
  • how to use testing, comparison with an Acceptable Solution, product certification and producer statements in establishing compliance
  • which options to follow when using past service history to show compliance with the Building Code
  • how to assess alternative solutions when received as part of a building consent application.

Seminars will be held:

Location Date
Dunedin 4 May
Queenstown 5 May
Christchurch 6 May
Wellington 7 May
Auckland 11 May
Hamilton 12 May
Tauranga 13 May
Palmerston North 14 May

Details of the seminars can be found on the BRANZ website.BRANZ website.

Accessibility - the way of the future

The Barrier Free New Zealand Trust highlighted key accessibility issues at the Wellington Construction Forum recently.  

Jim Bowler, Chairperson of the Trust, and Jula Goebel, Education Project Manager outlined legislative requirements and discussed the underlying principles of accessibility.

Photo: Jim Bowler and Julia Goeboel.

Jim Bowler and Jula Goebel of the Barrier Free NZ Trust, at Victoria University of Wellington's School of Architecture in February.

The Building Act 2004 states that Schedule 2 buildings need to provide access and facilities for people with disabilities.

'Accessibility not only means access for people with disabilities, but it also ensures efficiency, comfort and convenience for everyone else.' (NZS 4121: 2001)

Why provide for access?

The construction industry needs to create built environments that meet the needs of society - buildings need to be user friendly, marketable, and sustainable.

Disability increases with age. In 2011 the first of the baby boomers will turn 65, and this group constitutes 17 percent of the world's population.

In order to build a sustainable environment we need to design buildings that all people can access and use, regardless of abilities or age, now and in the future. If access requirements are considered as part of the initial design, costly alterations can be avoided further down the track. Physical access enables equal opportunity and inclusion in work, education and community activities. Accessible schools and workplaces improve social outcomes, and promote economic growth.

How to do it?

A key concept is the Accessible Route. The two most important elements are that the route is continuous, and that it enables everyone, including people with disabilities, to enter and use a building without assistance.

Universal access design represents a fundamental change from the earlier practice of providing separate and stigmatising design solutions for people with disabilities, such as an entry ramp at the back of a building. The aim now is to integrate the needs of all users, regardless of age or ability, into the initial design. This ensures that no one is excluded by physical barriers, and promotes safety and wellbeing for everyone.

It is hoped that the one hour presentation to the Wellington Construction Forum will be repeated in Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch in the near future.

Barrier Free NZ Trust

The Barrier Free NZ Trust's mission is to encourage, promote and facilitate the creation of environments that are accessible and usable by everyone in the community, including people with disabilities. Through training and education, the provision of technical advice, and overseeing the display of the International Symbol of Access, the Barrier Free NZ Trust has become a 'first port of call' for accessibility advice and information.

See the Barrier Free NZ Trust website Barrier free NZ Trust website., for more information.

Barrier Free New Zealand Trust logo.