Never have the Government and society’s expectations been so high around what the building and construction sector needs to deliver. But the sector also faces some complex challenges, and needs the building regulatory system to support the sector to deliver.
Building System Performance is focused on four key areas that need to work together effectively if New Zealand is to have a modern, world-class building regulatory system.
- People: an available, accountable workforce with the right skills for the industry and protection for consumers
The Construction Skills Action Plan was launched in October, and work on the licensed building practitioner regime and licensing regime for engineers continues in the occupational regulation space.
- Products: reliable and fit for purpose building products contribute to the safety and durability of buildings
The products regulatory review is underway.
- Performance standards: these need to be clear, reasonable and look to the future
BSP has shaped up the Building Code improvement programme, including introducing bi-annual Building Code updates.
- Processes: both regulatory and commercial, that are risk-based, balanced and efficient
Options to mitigate risks and rebalance how liability is allocated when things go wrong are being considered.
In 2019 our work programme will continue to build – focusing on the four Ps of people, products, performance standards and process. The next two years will see some big shifts in the system. You will hear more about how you can contribute to public consultation on these key projects next year.
Shaping the system in a way that meets current and future needs can only be achieved with support, involvement and input from the sector. In recent months hundreds of people across the sector have provided input and feedback on BSP projects and initiatives. Thank you for your ongoing participation.
Even with the end of the year approaching, things are not slowing down. The final Building Advisory Panel meeting for 2018 is coming up, and the amendments to Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods, which were consulted on during August and September, have now been published. You can read more about the amendments in this issue of Codewords.
Finally, BSP recently released information on the progress being made to identify potentially earthquake-prone buildings. You can read more about this on the Building Performance website.
Enjoy this issue of Codewords.
General Manager Building System Performance
Code and technical changes
BC Update 243: Acceptable Solution and Verification Method amendments November 2018
Seven Acceptable Solutions and four Verification Methods for complying with the New Zealand Building Code have been amended. Changes are effective from 30 November 2018.
A large number of Building Code System documents require updating periodically to remain current with sector innovations and best practice. MBIE has started a Bi-Annual Building Code System Update programme to assist with this. This means there are two consultation periods every year in February/March and August/September about proposed changes to Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods. Amendments are published in June and November.
This move to a Bi-Annual Building Code System Update responds to sector feedback that previous updates have been ad hoc in nature, that stakeholders want more lead-in time to provide submissions, and they do not want lengthy consultation documents. The new programme will provide the sector more advanced notice of consultations, ensure relevant documents remain up-to-date, and give clarity, certainty and consistency.
The first consultation period in this new programme took place from 8 August to 21 September 2018. Amendments were proposed to eleven Acceptable Solutions and Verifications Methods, and it was proposed to revoke the Simple House Acceptable Solution.
Overall 29 submissions were received, the majority supporting the proposed changes. Some submitters commented on other matters and these have been noted for future consideration. The published amendments will follow the proposals except that the Simple House Acceptable Solution will not be revoked at this time.
MBIE appreciates the time and effort put into the submissions and would like to thank all those who participated.
Effective dates and transition
These amendments are effective from 30 November 2018.
The previous Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods will continue to comply until 31 March 2019 inclusive. If used from 1 April 2019, the previous Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods must be considered an alternative solution proposal.
Amendments have been made to the following Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods:
- Building Code Clause B1 Structure: B1/VM1
- B1/VM1 has been amended to reference a new Standard for designing composite steel-concrete structures and a new Technical Specification for specifying durability requirements for steel structures. These new documents expand on information currently available with the former providing design options for a wider range of composite structures and the latter enabling more designers to specify corrosion protection systems. B1/VM1 also now references the latest version of the wind loading Standard.
- Building Code Clause B2 Durability: B2/AS1
- B2/AS1 now includes durability requirements for steel structures and components. This amendment provides clarity on steel protection measures avoiding the need to justify alternative solution proposals.
- Building Code Clause E2 External Moisture: E2/VM1, E2/AS1
- Both the Verification Method and Acceptable Solution have been amended to include Extra High wind zones. Amendments have been made to the Verification Method to clarify the testing requirements for ensuring adequate weathertightness performance of claddings. The revised testing requirements apply to all new testing; current test certificates will remain valid.
- Building Code Clause G12 Water Supplies: G12/VM1, G12/AS1, G12/AS2
- Amendments have been made to the G12 Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods to reference amended Standards for the jointing of common stainless steel pipework. This means common stainless steel pipework installation no longer has to be treated as an alternative solution proposal.
- Building Code Clause G13 Foul Water: G13/AS1, G13/VM2, G13/AS2, G13/AS3
- Amendments have been made to G13 Verification Methods and Acceptable Solutions to reference an amended Standard relating to the testing of drains and inclusion of vacuum drainage systems. Use of these provisions will no longer need to be treated as alternative solution proposals.
MBIE proposed to revoke SH/AS1 as part of the November 2018 Update. During consultation we learned that information on foundation design in expansive soils in SH/AS1 is not contained in any other Acceptable Solution. We now propose transferring the ‘Slab-on-ground in expansive soils’ information to Acceptable Solution B1/AS1 as soon as possible as part of the Bi-Annual Building Code System Update programme. Once this is done, SH/AS1 will be revoked.
Demolition planning lessons from Statistics House
Engineers, building consent authorities (BCAs) and contractors involved in the demolition of buildings with precast concrete floors should be aware of the learnings from the demolition of the Statistics House building in Wellington.
The Statistics House building in Wellington suffered partial floor collapse during the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake. The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) commissioned an expert panel to investigate the cause of the collapse to decide whether changes to the Building Code system were needed. After the investigation was completed the building was demolished in December 2017 and January 2018.
During demolition new information was discovered relating to the partial floor collapse, so in March 2018 MBIE reconvened the expert panel to review this information. During this review the demolition contractors reported that it had been relatively simple to demolish Statistics House. This was because the building had precast concrete floor units, and once one floor unit was dropped onto the floors below they collapsed progressively as a sequence. The contractors noted that this collapse was different to what is typically observed in the demolition of buildings with cast-in-situ floor slabs.
The Statistics House demolition highlighted the importance of having an appropriate demolition plan and methodology, and having this reviewed by a structural engineer to ensure the safety of those involved. The demolition highlighted the potential for precast concrete floor units to collapse under impact loading and cause multiple floor level collapse. Demolition methodologies need to take this possibility into account so that demolition teams are prepared for this kind of floor collapse.
Building consents are required for the demolition of buildings above three floors. When assessing building consent applications for the demolition of buildings with precast concrete floors, BCAs should be aware that the potential for progressive floor collapse must be considered by the demolition contractor and structural engineer as they develop the demolition methodology.
LBP knowledge link
LBP Registrar update (Codewords 87)
Welcome to the final Codewords edition for 2018. Another year has flown by, and I hope it has been a successful one for you all. Be sure to take some time to have a well-deserved break in the holiday period to come.
Our first article this edition is around using built-up members in place of solid timber. This is becoming more and more common with fabricated products, but it may pay to know that it can be done on site too. This article provides some basic guidance on the subject, and you’ll be able to find more detailed information in NZS 3604:2011.
The second article for this edition builds on our last quantity-surveying and construction article. We focus on the design process and point out some of the benefits of having good quantity surveying input up front.
We have recently undertaken an assessment of the LBP scheme from a range of stakeholder perspectives. This work will inform some of our on-going policy work and allows us to make improvements where they are most needed. You can read the report on the LBP website. You’ll hear from us again in the form of a consultation before we make any changes to the Scheme settings.
We recently consulted on changes to the LBP scheme fees and levy. The new fees have been set by the Government, and you can read more about the changes on the LBP website.
Thanks for reading – you’ll hear from us again in the New Year.
Registrar Building Practitioner Licensing
Built-up members in place of solid timber
NZS 3604:2011 lets some solid timber members be replaced by built-up members. This article looks at how to do this correctly.
Jack studs and bottom and top plates must be solid timber members, but NZS 3604:2011 lets other solid timber members be replaced by built-up members. However, these need to be done correctly.
A built-up member is two or more component members used to make one larger member.
A few rules need to be followed when using built-up members. The built-up members must:
- be the same grade of timber
- be in one continuous length
- match or exceed the size of the solid member required in accordance with NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.
Built-up members may consist of up to six component members nailed together according to the nailing requirements in NZS 3604:2011.
Built-up members of up to three components
The nailing requirements for built-up members of up to three components are that:
- the spacing of the nails is no more than six times the thickness of the thinnest component
- all nails penetrate at least three-quarters of the last component member
- nails are driven from alternate sides of the built-up member.
For example, a built-up member consisting of two 90 × 35 mm components and one 90 × 20 mm component must have:
- nailing spacings at 120 mm centres maximum (6 × 20 mm = 120 mm where 20 mm is the thinnest component member)
- nails that are at least 82 mm long (35 mm + 20 mm + (0.75 × 35 mm) = 82 mm) (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Built-up horizontal member less than 140 mm depth (for lintels and beams)
When members are 140 mm or more in depth, at least two rows of nails are required, but the other criteria remain the same (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Built-up horizontal member 140 mm or deeper (for lintels and beams)
Built-up members of more than three components
Where the built-up member consists of more than three component members, the first three component members should be assembled in the same way as a built-up member with up to three components.
NZS 3604:2011 is unclear, but BRANZ believes that additional component members should be fixed using nails that are twice as long and spaced at six times the thickness of each component member added (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Built-up member made of more than three vertical members (usually for trimming studs)
1. Which timber members may not be substituted with built-up members?
a. Studs, top plates, joists
b. Jack studs, top plates, bottom plates
c. Joists, top plates, purlins
d. Rafters, jack studs, lintels
2. Built-up members up to three components must be nailed at spacings:
a. more than six times the thickness of the thickest member
b. no more than six times the thickness of the thickest member
c. no more than six times the thickness of the thinnest member
d. more than six times the thickness of the thinnest member.
3. Nails must penetrate at least:
a. half way through the last component member
b. two-thirds of the way through the last component member
c. three-quarters of the way through the last component member
d. all the way through the last component member.
4. Where built-up members consist of more than three components, the first three components are nailed as for up to three component members. Additional layers must be nailed using nails:
a. two times as long and spaced at less than six times the thickness of the component member added
b. six times as long and spaced at less than six times the thickness of the component member added
c. two times as long and spaced at six times the thickness of the component member added.
Quantity surveying and design work together
Including value engineering options during a project’s design can help manage costs and avoid a budget blowout.
Traditionally, many see design and quantity surveying as being stand-alone practices. However, the benefits of combining them becomes obvious when analysing their individual strengths.
A quantity surveyor (QS) can provide valuable input at the start of a project by providing advice about value engineering and cost management.
Value engineering involves a QS providing different options to realise cost-saving benefits for a project.
Examples of value engineering in a design process include:
- advising on cost implications of different cladding options including whole-of-life costings
- advising on cost benefits and design adjustments to enable off-the-shelf solutions and materials rather than bespoke designs
- ensuring the ceiling height fits standard size sheets of plasterboard, avoiding excessive cutting and waste
- designing the project so work is completed in stages to allow costs to be set out accurately and specific measurements tracked at each stage.
Often, and despite best efforts, an initial budget provided by a client is blown as excitement about the project grows. To help manage costs, it’s best to bring in a quantity surveyor during several stages of the design process:
- For the initial conversation with designer and client, to discuss budgets and goals, set expectations and identify the limits of the design within the cost parameters. At this point, it’s important to talk to the client about their budget and what they want to achieve. It can be easier to identify early on if the goals and budget are likely to work. This is also an opportunity to discuss ideas about value engineering for the designer and the client to think about.
- Once the concept plans have been completed, a quantity surveyor can provide an indicative budget. This can be useful before the working drawings are completed as it can save rework if the plans exceed the budget. If further value engineering is required, this is a good time for a discussion between the designer and client.
- After the concept drawings have been signed off and the working drawings completed, a quantity surveyor can provide a schedule of quantities. This is used during the tender process and is a list and measurement for all carpentry and concrete items needed for a project. Using a schedule of quantities means that all builders use the same measurements – overall, this makes tenders fairer and easier to compare. It often also encourages builders to tender a price as the exercise is far less labour intensive without the need to measure as well as price.
1. What does value engineering provide?
a. Advice regarding the structural elements of a project.
b. Advice regarding the cost elements of a project.
c. Advice regarding the architectural elements of a project.
2. A schedule of quantities is a list and measurement document provided to builders to tender from and is useful for:
a. fair tendering
b. making sure materials are measured correctly
c. helping to make the tendering process less time intensive for the builders
d. all of the above.
3. Designers and quantity surveyors should:
a. never work together
b. only work together at working drawings stage
c. ideally work together at the start of a project.
Design LBP fined for working without a licence
The Building Practitioners Board (the Board) recently issued a substantial penalty against a Design licensed building practitioner (LBP) who is also a Carpentry LBP, for carrying out design work requiring a licence after he had been suspended.
The Board investigated a complaint (C2-01802) made against Xiang Bai of Auckland and decided to publish the details of the matters due to its seriousness and the strong penalty given. It is important that LBPs are aware of the consequences of their actions and the conditions they must work within if they have a suspended licence.
Xiang Bai (C2-01648)
Mr Bai was found to have:
- Brought the LBP Scheme into disrepute.
Mr Bai had his licence suspended in March 2017 by the Board after he failed to pay a fine issued to him by the Board following a separate disciplinary matter.
The Board heard evidence that while he was suspended Mr Bai agreed to carry out the design work for two new properties and was paid a 50% deposit for this work. Mr Bai did not provide the plans within the agreed timeframe, continued to delay the expected completion date and eventually stopped communicating with the person who engaged him to carry out the work.
The person who hired Mr Bai identified that Mr Bai’s licences had been suspended while Mr Bai claimed he was carrying out the design work. Mr Bai was sent multiple communications by the LBP Registrar regarding his licence status.
Mr Bai only became concerned about his licence status once he needed it to submit a design for a building consent application. Until then he appeared content to undertake design work without a design licence and led his client to believe that he had authority to carry out the design work.
The Board issued Mr Bai with a $3000 fine, ordered him to pay some costs towards the inquiry and that this decision would be publicised.
What we can learn from this decision
It is an LBP’s responsibility to complete all their relicensing requirements on time. Not doing so demonstrates a disregard for their obligations and places them in a position to be disciplined or prosecuted. It is illegal for a person to hold themselves out to be licensed and to continue to carry out restricted building work when their licence has been suspended.
Members of the public can review the LBP register and will avoid LBPs with suspension records. We regularly hear that an LBP has missed out on a job due to having a disciplinary or relicensing suspension on their public register page. By law information is required to be posted on the register for three years.
LBPs are required by law to keep their details, including addresses, phone numbers, and emails, up-to-date. The Registrar and the Board need to be able to advise you of changes to your licence status, and you risk failing to meet your obligations if your details are not up-to-date and you cannot be contacted.
Read this decision and other past decisions in full on the LBP website
Design LBP’s licence cancelled for incompetent and negligent work
The Building Practitioners Board (the Board) recently cancelled the licence of a Design licensed building practitioner (LBP) and has chosen to publish the details of the matter due to the seriousness of the issue.
Three complaints were made against Graeme Taylor in Napier. These complaints were considered together by the Board due to the similarities in Mr Taylor’s conduct in each complaint.
It is important that LBPs are aware of the consequences of the failure in this circumstance and avoid similar outcomes.
Graeme Taylor (C2-01722, C2-01723, C2-01724)
Mr Taylor was found to have:
- carried out building work in a negligent or incompetent manner; and
- misrepresented his competence/worked outside his competence.
Three complaints were received against Mr Taylor relating to his failure to supply the building consent authority (BCA) with sufficient information for building consent applications.
Evidence showed Mr Taylor tended to rely on standard details and solutions even when they were inadequate, rather than considering and addressing specific design requirements.
The Board commented that a designer should be developing a design with the intention of getting it right the first time and should not be relying on the BCA to assist them with making the design compliant with Building Code. The BCA is responsible for enforcing compliance, and should not be seen as a form of quality assurance.
The Board noted that LBPs must work within their competence and only take on work they are licensed to do. The quality of Mr Taylor’s designs are evidence he did not have the right skill set, knowledge base or experience for the work he was doing and show he was operating outside his area of competence. Mr Taylor held a Design Area of Practice 1 licence and took on complex work outside of this area.
The Board cancelled Mr Taylor's licence, with a stand-down period of 6 months before he can reapply. Although Mr Taylor had made changes to his design practice he still failed to meet the competence standards required of an LBP. Cancelling his licence means the Board can ensure Mr Taylor’s competence will be objectively assessed should he apply for relicensing.
The Board also ordered Mr Taylor to pay some costs towards the inquiry and that the decision would be publicised.
What we can learn from these decisions
Poor quality assurance, a reliance on the BCA to ensure compliance with the Building Code, and fundamental design mistakes led to this LBP being disciplined.
Not only did Mr Taylor submit inadequate designs to the BCA but there was evidence that he had not engaged engineers at appropriate times. There were several serious deficiencies in his practice, so that even if the designs had been buildable, the Board would still have found Mr Taylor negligent and incompetent.
This complaint highlights the importance of understanding your regulatory obligations. As an LBP you can only undertake work you are competent and licensed to carry out.
Read this and past decisions in full on the LBP website.
Misleading contract results in disciplinary action
A complaint was recently made to the Building Practitioners Board (the Board) about a misleading contract. A Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) provided a contract to help a homeowner obtain finance for a build, despite knowing that the contract did not reflect the actual circumstances of their agreement.
Although the LBP involved told the Board the contract was produced with the best of intentions, to help a friend, ultimately the behaviour was fraudulent. The Board has chosen to publicise the details of the matter so that others may learn from the mistake and avoid similar conduct.
In this case, the LBP prepared a contract that did not reflect the agreement between the LBP and the homeowner. The LBP wrote up a comprehensive fixed-price contract, when in reality the LBP was engaged on a charge up labour and materials basis. The homeowner was going to project manage certain aspects of the build, arrange sub-contractors and carry out some of the work themselves. As the contract did not reflect the work taking place, the Board considered that the contract was essentially invalid.
By taking part in an agreement to deceive with the intent of obtaining a benefit this LBP acted in a way which is not only unethical but also illegal. This behaviour brings the LBP regime into disrepute and the Board considers this to be a very serious matter. Contracts are important documents in the construction process and are not to be abused for financial gain.
In this case the LBP was ordered to pay a large fine as well as costs associated with the inquiries of the Board.
What we can learn from this behaviour
A contract is a legal document and must accurately reflect the agreement between the parties, even when doing a job for a friend.
You could be found to be committing an offence under the Building Act 2004 if you provide a false or misleading contract.
Contractors have obligations under the Building Act 2004 and the Construction Contracts Act 2002. It is useful to do some research before entering into a contract, and can be beneficial to seek professional advice.
Why contracts are valuable has more information.
Deciding whether a structure is a building or a boat
Determination 2018/031 considered whether a structure is a building or a boat; and whether construction of this structure is considered building work under the Building Act.
In 2017 a building consent authority (BCA) issued a ‘notice to fix’ on a structure, as the work on the structure didn’t have building consent. The BCA and owner of the structure disagreed over whether the structure was a building or if it was a boat under construction.
For a BCA to exercise its powers under the Building Act, such as issuing a notice to fix, a structure needs to be considered a building and work on the structure must be considered ‘building work’ under section 8 of the Building Act. If the structure was a boat under construction, the work on the structure would not fall under the Building Act.
Under Section 9 of the Building Act structures that are a “vessel, boat, ferry or craft used in navigation” are not considered a ‘building’. It does not matter whether the structure has a means of propulsion or not.
In this case, the structure has a partially constructed timber-framed hull with non-nautical windows and a door. The hull contains a bathroom, storeroom, an open plan kitchen, and living area. The structure has a small cabin on the upper level that includes a bedroom.
A number of parts still needed to be finished including the framing the hull, installing a motor for propulsion, and removing and filling in the mid-hull windows.
The determination considered whether the structure was a boat under construction that when finished would be a boat used in navigation, or whether it was a building with nautical-style design features. If the structure was a boat it would fall outside the Building Act and not require involvement of the BCA.
The determination used a similar approach to previous determinations and court judgments to test whether the structure was a building or a boat. To be considered a boat under section 9 the structure needed to be:
- “capable” of being used on the water and
- moved reasonably frequently from anchorage or mooring.
The determination accepted that there are times when boats used in navigation are not able to be used on water, such as during construction or maintenance. The determination noted that when construction or manufacture of a boat satisfies section 9 it is not considered building work, and that a boat could be occupied during its construction and still satisfy section 9.
However, even when under construction a boat used in navigation will still have the features and characteristics of a boat, and the reason it cannot be used on water is because it is under construction. In this case there were features of the structure, such as an open section of the hull, a door, and mid-hull windows, which made it incompatible with the definition of a boat used in navigation. For the structure to be a boat used in navigation these features needed to be removed.
The structure did not meet the section 9 test because it had features that needed to be removed before it could be used as a boat. Therefore, the structure was a building with nautical-style design features and was not a boat under construction.
The determination found that the structure is a building under section 8 of the Building Act.
Determination 2018/031 in full.
Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.
Refusal to exempt seismic strengthening work from needing building consent
Determination 2018/037 considered a council’s decision to refuse to exempt seismic strengthening work from needing a building consent.
The owners of a building applied for an exemption under Schedule 1(2)(a) to carry out seismic strengthening work without needing a building consent. The proposed building work was to improve the building’s seismic capacity from 62% NBS to 75% NBS by installing bracing to the steel portal frames. The council, in its capacity as the territorial authority, refused the exemption because it had a policy requiring all seismic strengthening work to have a building consent.
Schedule 1 of the Building Act 2004 lists building work that does not need a building consent.
Under Schedule 1(2) a territorial authority can decide whether to exempt building work from needing a building consent. Schedule 1(2) states:
Any building work in respect of which the territorial authority or regional authority considers that a building consent is not necessary for the purposes of this Act because the authority considers that:
(a) The completed building work is likely to comply with the Building code or
(b) If the completed building work does not comply with the Building Code, it is unlikely to endanger people or any building ...
In this case, the territorial authority has a policy requiring all seismic strengthening work to have a building consent, and relied on this policy when refusing to grant the exemption.
The determination noted a territorial authority needs to consider relevant legislation and take into account the facts of each application when making decisions under Schedule 1(2), rather than taking a blanket position about the type of building work that requires a building consent. For example, factors that could be considered in the decision include the:
- nature of the proposed work
- personnel who will be undertaking it
- likelihood of the work being completed in a way that does not comply with the Building Code.
In this case, the territorial authority did not consider the facts of the specific application and relied on a general policy position to make its decision. The determination noted a territorial authority can refuse an exemption, provided the reasons for refusing relate to the specific facts of each application and meet the requirements set out in Schedule 1(2). Any policy for making decisions under Schedule 1(2) should include these considerations.
The determination concluded the territorial authority was incorrect to refuse to grant an exemption under Schedule 1(2)(a) for the reasons it gave, and needed to reconsider the exemption, taking the determination into account.
Determination 2018/037 in full.
Previous determinations is a register of all previous determinations.