Welcome to our mid-year edition of Codewords
We’re almost half way through the year and, if you’re anything like me, 2016 seems to be flying. Like a number of you, I recently attended the Building Official Institute of New Zealand’s (BOINZ) annual conference in Christchurch. This event once again emphasised for me how much effort is being invested by Building Consent Authorities and MBIE in building the strength of our relationships, and just how much progress we’ve made in the short time since the last BOINZ conference. Thanks to all who have grasped the opportunity to work more closely to improve construction in New Zealand.
In this edition we’ve got important news of an extended deadline for anyone wanting support for repairing a leaky home, through the Financial Assistance Package. We also update you on a new system for managing earthquake-prone buildings, with the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill, passed by Parliament on 10 May 2016.
Our LBP Registrar Paul Hobbs has some useful information about what Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) need to know about resource consents and what rates as “LBP supervision” in the legal sense. His team has also profiled LBP Craig Cameron, who has some very practical advice for the industry.
Watch out for winter hazards like slippery surfaces and frozen numb extremities - keep safe!
Code and technical changes
Financial Assistance Package for leaky homes extended
Application period extended for Financial Assistance Package to repair a leaky home, but eligibility must be confirmed by 23 July 2016.
If you are applying for the Financial Assistance Package (FAP) to repair a leaky home, you need to qualify as eligible by 23 July 2016 to meet the final close-off for applications.
It can take time for MBIE to determine eligibility, so we strongly recommend you get your application to us by 27 June 2016. If you have clients who may be eligible, we encourage you to pass this information on to them.
If you are already actively progressing a claim, and are eligible, this change should not affect you.
The previous legislation stated that claimants who qualify and apply for the Financial Assistance Package must issue a Notice to Proceed by 23 July 2016, but this was changed under the Weathertight Resolution Services Amendment Act.
The change allows eligible claimants who indicate before 23 July 2016 that they wish to apply for the Financial Assistance Package, and are considered by MBIE to be actively progressing their claim, to continue to progress with the scheme after 23 July 2016.
Repairing your home with the Financial Assistance Package has more information.
New approach to managing earthquake-prone buildings
New system for managing earthquake-prone buildings includes nationally consistent framework for identifying and remediating priority buildings, targeting geographic areas, buildings and parts of buildings that pose the greatest risk.
A new system for managing earthquake-prone buildings aims to strike a balance between protecting people from harm in an earthquake, managing the costs of strengthening or removing buildings and any impact on heritage. The system is outlined in the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act.
Timeframes for completing work on earthquake-prone buildings will be set by location, relative to the level of seismic risk in an area.
Key features of the Act include:
- clarifying the definition of an earthquake-prone building
- establishing a national register of earthquake-prone buildings
- issuing enhanced notices for earthquake-prone buildings
- categorising New Zealand into three areas of high, medium and low seismic risk
- defining a new category of “priority buildings” in high and medium seismic risk areas, for accelerated identification and remediation
- providing for an opt-in extension of time to remediate our most important heritage buildings
- providing for an opt-in exemption from the requirement to remediate for some buildings.
The legislation, which contains major changes to the previous system for managing earthquake-prone buildings under the Building Act 2004, follows extensive public consultation via the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission inquiry and the select committee process.
MBIE is developing new regulations and associated guidance to support the implementation of the system. The regulations include criteria for exempting the requirement to remediate earthquake-prone buildings and for when a substantial alteration to a building will trigger earthquake strengthening. In addition to the regulations, MBIE is also required to establish a methodology for the assessment of buildings.
Public consultation on the final form of the new regulations and the earthquake-prone building methodology takes place later this year.
You can read more about earthquake-prone buildings on the MBIE Corporate website.
Keeping sector engaged on Fire Programme
Progress on the Fire Programme, including an increase to 15 projects, formation of working groups and wide sector representation.
The projects under the Fire Programme are progressing well. Originally comprising 14 projects, a 15th project was recently added to review the Verification Method incorporating requirements for tall buildings.
You can access the Fire Programme timeline, which incorporates the new project, on the Building Code clause C page of the website.
So far, we have formed seven working groups for the projects and they include 52 sector representatives. The working groups are intended to have representation from all parties affected by the issues under consideration and from across the sector. The representatives include fire engineers, architects, scientists, Building Control Authorities (BCAs), the New Zealand Fire Service, industry representatives and MBIE staff.
To join a working group, representatives are nominated by one of the sector bodies. They can also be people MBIE has approached or those who approached us. The composition of the working groups is reviewed and approved by the programme’s steering group.
Briefing the sector
Since MBIE commenced the review in July last year, we have briefed a wide range of sector bodies about the Fire Programme. These include key sector organisations, BCAs and people who have expressed an interest in the programme. In all our briefings, we have highlighted that MBIE’s approach is to involve stakeholders in formulating the proposed approaches and strategies (as opposed to asking stakeholders to comment on already formulated proposals).
We have also stressed the need to draw on a wide range of stakeholders from the sector to provide as broad as possible a range of perspectives on the issues and solutions. Once a firm proposal has been developed, which could be for a Building Code clause change or a change to the Acceptable Solutions or Verification Method, formal public consultation will follow.
Register here to receive regular updates about the Fire Programme.
Summary report of 2014-15 technical reviews of councils
Report on reviews of 13 councils and how they deliver some of their statutory territorial authority responsibilities (including amending compliance schedules and enforcing BWOF requirements, notices to fix and infringements, as well as observing passive fire systems).
You can now read the full summary report on the 2014-15 technical reviews of 13 councils, including how they performed some of their core territorial authority functions.
The report is further to the Codewords 70 (December 2015) article, which summarised some of their core territorial authority (TA) functions which deal with the safety of building occupants.
Specifically, these territorial authority functions related to amending compliance schedules not captured by the building consent process (as a consequence of the passing of the Building Amendment Act 2012) and the enforcement of the building warrant of fitness system, via on-site audits, notices to fix and infringement notices. The opportunity was also taken to observe and assess the quality of installed passive fire systems (for example, smoke/fire separations).
The 13 councils reviewed in the 2014-15 financial year were, in chronological order:
- Kapiti Coast District Council
- Upper Hutt City Council
- Tasman District Council
- Palmerston North City Council
- Ashburton District Council
- Timaru District Council
- Whakatane District Council
- Western Bay of Plenty District Council
- Christchurch City Council
- Queenstown Lakes District Council
- Thames Coromandel District Council
- Dunedin City Council
- Auckland Council.
LBP knowledge link
LBP Registrar's update
LBP Registrar introduction to Codewords 72, covering resource consent conditions and supervision from an LBP point of view.
Greetings and welcome to the LBP segment of Codewords 72. This time round we’ve got a heads-up for you on resource consent conditions and a reminder of what you need to know when supervising others on site or in the design office.
Why have we focused on these particular areas?
Staff from MBIE and Auckland Council met recently to discuss the council’s experiences with LBPs when administering the Resource Management Act (the RMA). LBPs are not expected to be experts in the RMA, but should have a good working-knowledge of the ‘rules’ that apply to the land they are working on. A resource consent is authorisation from your local council to undertake certain works or activities on a piece of land so if you do not make yourself aware of these conditions it could cause real issues downstream.
The Building Practitioners Board and MBIE have identified several issues in the way LBPs are interpreting and applying supervision. The supporting article tries to debunk some myths that surround this role and clarify what appropriate supervision looks like.
LBP skills maintenance portal
As a final point, we’ve designed the new LBP skills maintenance portal to help you manage your skills maintenance requirements with the utmost ease. If you’ve been notified about the phased-in launch of the new scheme, you can access the LBP portal on the LBP website. You’ll be able to log points and complete your quiz-related material online.
Remember, you’ll soon be able to read the above-noted articles in your free copy of BRANZ Build magazine (see Codewords 71 for details).
Until next time.
Registrar, Building Practitioner Licensing
LBP profile on Craig Cameron
From scooping ice cream to scoping weathertightness, Craig Cameron’s move to become one of five principal building inspectors for the Christchurch City Council.
Licenced Building Practitioner Craig Cameron tells the story of how he came to be a principal building inspector for the Christchurch City Council.
After moving to Christchurch from Sydney in 1993, Craig Cameron worked for various building companies, while also building his own house and honing his ice cream scooping skills in the family café.
The café was frequented by Christchurch City Council building inspectors and he says “one conversation led to another and I started working at the council in early 2012. It certainly beats scooping ice cream!”
“I am one of five principal building officials at the Christchurch City Council and my function is weathertightness. My day can be anything from being office-bound while I field enquires, to visiting sites to identify and mark decayed timber so it can be removed. I also moonlight as a building inspector once a week, which keeps me on my toes and keeps me in touch with the industry.
“If I could get the industry to do one thing, it would be for more of us to brush up on the New Zealand Building Code."
Keeping up to date with the latest building regulations is something Craig takes seriously. “I've been a Licensed Building Practitioner since 2011. I receive a large amount of training in my role, but to keep my skills up-to-scratch I also attend seminars run by BRANZ and MBIE and am a transitional member of the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors.”
But at the end of the day, it’s the relationships he builds with clients that he really enjoys. “I often pop in for a cuppa and discuss the next move.”
“I often visit a building site, get asked a tricky question and pull out E2 and show the builder first-hand how it can be done, only to be asked ‘where can I get that book?’”
Registrar’s note: If you’re looking for the E2 document Craig refers to (Acceptable Solution E2/AS1) or information on any of the Building Code clauses, you’ll find it in Building Code compliance on MBIE’s Building Performance website.
Know your stuff: When is supervising supervision?
All Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) can supervise a non-LBP in carrying out restricted building work (RBW). Check you know what supervision really means in the Building Act 2004.
If you are a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) you can supervise a non-LBP in carrying out restricted building work (RBW), to ensure that they are doing it well and that the work complies with the building consent. However, you cannot supervise another LBP who holds the same licence class.
Why is this important? Well, if somebody complains to the Building Practitioners Board about an LBP who has been overseeing work, then it is really important to know whether or not the LBP was actually supervising the work. If the work was supervised then the supervising LBP might be accountable for the work (and could be reprimanded by the Board if the matter was serious enough).
First things first, what is supervision? It is defined section 7 of the Building Act 2004:
- supervise, in relation to building work, means provide control or direction and oversight of the building work to an extent that is sufficient to ensure that the building work—
- is performed competently; and
- complies with the building consent under which it is carried out.
So supervision, as far as an LBP goes, is where you supervise someone carrying out the work to ensure they are doing it well and that it is complying with the building consent. Interestingly, this definition says you can only supervise building work that has a building consent.
LBPs don’t supervise other LBPs
If you are an LBP and supervise someone who is not licensed, you might be accountable for the work they perform under your supervision.
However, an LBP cannot supervise another LBP who holds the relevant licence. For example, a Carpentry LBP cannot supervise another Carpentry LBP. Both of the Carpentry LBPs are competent carpenters (or they wouldn’t have a licence) and so they are both legally entitled to carry out carpentry work.
As they are legally entitled to do the work, they are accountable to the Building Practitioners Board for the work they do. An LBP cannot pass this accountability off to someone else (even if that someone is the boss and he or she is telling you what to do, the boss can’t supervise you as far as the legal sense goes if you are licensed to carry out the work).
- If you are an LBP supervising restricted building work, you need to fill in a Record of Work (RoW).
- If you are not actually supervising (because the person carrying out the work is licensed), or it is not restricted building work, you don’t need to fill in a RoW. The LBP doing the work needs to fill it in.
- If the person carrying out the work is unlicensed and the work is restricted building work, they must be supervised by an LBP.
- A design LBP can supervise a ‘non-LBP’ designer and the supervising LBP must complete the applicable Certificate of Work (Cow).
Quiz questions – show you know
- Who are Licensed Building Practitioners accountable to if they have supervised an unlicensed person who has done poor work?
- Can an LBP supervise another LBP if they are both licensed but one of them doesn’t know how to install the product?
- If you’re supervising someone who is unlicensed and they are not doing RBW, do you need to provide a Record of Work for their work?
- What is the purpose of supervision as defined in the Building Act 2004?
Resource consents and what you need to know
What is a resource consent and what do you need to know about working with them?
You need to have a good working-knowledge of the ‘rules’ that apply to any land you are working on, including the requirements of any resource consent.
A resource consent is authorisation from your local council to undertake certain works or activities on a piece of land. These works may affect the environment and natural surroundings (bush, land, water, sky and animals), or the people and community nearby (including streetscapes, light and noise aspects, and heritage considerations).
On a construction site, these activities may include:
- large-scale earthworks
- a building footprint larger or closer to a boundary than the district plan allows
- a new dwelling located in a flood-prone or contaminated area
- works in close proximity to a watercourse, on a steep gradient, in a natural heritage area and/or in a coastal environment.
Resource consents come with a set of conditions that reduce the risks to the environment and community. Common conditions for a residential new build may include:
- sediment controls, such as silt fences and stabilised entrances
- limiting on-site hours of work to prevent excessive noise in the community
- certificates from trades such as engineers, surveyors and drainlayers
- construction and traffic management plans.
Although you may not be the holder of the resource consent, you and your subcontractors are required to comply with its conditions while undertaking activities on-site. Failure to comply with the conditions can result in your site being shut down, fines or court action, or both.
Before you start works, obtain a copy of all consents from whoever engaged you to do the works, and ensure you understand the conditions. Contact your local council if you have any questions.
When you finish a project, make sure you review both the resource consent and building consent, and submit any required documents to council. These may include geotechnical reports, survey certificates, drainage plans or any report required under the consent.
1. As a builder, I only need to be concerned about the building consent, not the resource consent.
2. I am required to comply with resource consents conditions.
3. My site may have a resource consent if:
- the works breach a rule in a district or regional plan
- large earthworks are required during the project
- the dwelling is very close to a boundary
- the site is in an identified hazardous or special area, or the environment may be affected from the activity on-site
- all of the above
4. My subcontractors are required to comply with the resource consent conditions.
5. Failure to comply with resource consent conditions may result in:
- site shut down
- all of the above
Determination 2015/065 – Summary
Regarding the issue of a 'dangerous and insanitary building' notice.
The determination considered whether the building was dangerous with regard to the building itself and the slope behind it. It also discussed the application of sections 124 and 125, the subsection the notice was issued under, who the notice was served to, and the content and wording of the notice.
The applicant was the building owner, and the other party was the Building Consent Authority (BCA). Given concerns about the stability of the building, a neighbour was included as a person with an interest in the matter.
The single-storey timber-framed 1910 building fronts a public footpath. The building is on level ground with a 12m high moderately-steep to steep bank at the rear, with the toe of the slope generally against or adjacent the rear of the building. There were signs of a recent slip on the face of the bank and signs of active regression.
The BCA issued a dangerous and insanitary building notice because the building was showing visible signs of collapse, the veranda roof was not secured properly, and the weight of debris on the rear of the building. The owner accepted the building was insanitary, but disputed that it was also dangerous.
The determination discussed the test under section 121(1)(a) for a “dangerous” building, noting that a building is dangerous if, in the ordinary course of events, it is “likely” to cause injury or death, or damage to other property.
Expert advice was obtained. The expert visited the site and confirmed that, although there was active regressing of part of the cut slope behind the building, it was unlikely that further slips would be of a volume or cause such pressure on the building to cause injury or death to anyone in the building or on the adjacent property. Neither was there evidence that the structure of the building itself was in such a state of disrepair that it would meet the test of a dangerous building.
The determination reversed the BCA’s decision in respect of the references in the s124 notice to the building being deemed to be dangerous.
Determination 2015/065 in full.
Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.
Determination 2015/070 – Summary
Regarding the refusal to issue a building consent for the change of use from commercial to residential of one level in a multi-level building.
The determination discussed when there is a change of use to only part of a building as well as information provided by way of an Initial Seismic Assessment (ISA) in relation to section 115, and the separate functions performed by BCAs under sections 112 and 115.
The applicants were the owners of a unit on the third level of a three-storey building; the other party was the Building Consent Authority (BCA). The owners of the other units in the building were included in the determination process via the body corporate as a person with an interest in the matter.
The commercial building is a 1971 three-storey reinforced concrete frame structure with pre-cast concrete floor slabs and masonry perimeter walls. The existing use category of the unit under the Change of Use Regulations1 was Working Low (WL). The BCA refused to grant a building consent for the fit-out of the unit to convert it to a household unit, on the basis that a detailed seismic assessment (DSA) was required to identify and address any possible critical structural weaknesses in the building as a whole. The ISA found the building was 80% NBS2.
The conversion of the unit constitutes a change of use under section 115(a). The BCA’s approach was that the change of use required a structural assessment of the whole of the building.
The obligations in section 115 apply in respect of a change of use of part of a building, and this also applies in respect of the compliance assessments required under sections 115(a) and 115(b). However, the impact of the change of use must be considered in light of each of the relevant clauses of the Building Code, and this may effectively involve an assessment of other parts of the building. The determination provided a number of examples of compliance assessments in respect of a change of use of part of a building.
In this case the lower levels of the building effectively act as the foundation to the unit. The assessment therefore needed to consider whether the structural strength/serviceability of the existing building below the unit would be sufficient to meet the performance requirements of Clause B1 Structure. An ISA/IEP3 is one possible first step in that assessment, and the results would affect whether or not further information would be required.
The determination discussed BCA functions under sections 112 and 115, noting that the functions are discrete, although one assessment may support the other. The interrelationship between the two functions was also described.
The determination also discussed the ANARP 4 test. Taking into account the results of the ISA, it was noted the cost of a DSA, and any work associated with structural upgrading, would be significant and disproportionate to the costs of the proposed building work.
The determination found the BCA incorrectly exercised its powers of decision in refusing to grant the building consent for the unit and reversed the BCA’s decision, requiring the BCA to make a new decision.
1. Building (Specified systems, Change the Use, and Earthquake-prone Buildings) Regulations 2005.
2. New Building Standard.
3. Initial Evaluation Procedure, which forms part of an ISA.
4. As near as is reasonably practicable.
Determination 2015/070 in full.
Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.