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Codewords Issue 94

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10 February 2020

In this issue:

This is a big year for Building Performance. We continue work to support a transformation of the building sector through a big programme of work that includes the Construction Sector Accord and recently announced Accord Transformation Plan, updates to the Building Code, and the Building Law Reforms.

There's a particular focus on getting building legislation changes through Parliament. We're also working with stakeholders to develop details of the regulations and their implementation.

In other work, the new Building Amendment Act is now in force. This is a great step towards better managing buildings when an emergency happens. It also allows MBIE to investigate significant building failures as we work for safe and durable buildings for New Zealanders. Take a look at the full article in this issue.

Finally, this is my last issue of Codewords. I've accepted a Deputy Chief Executive role at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, starting in February. Building Performance will be in the very capable hands of Anna Cook as Acting General Manager while a permanent replacement is recruited. Thank you to everyone who has contributed with feedback and support over the last few years.

Ngā mihi ki a koutou
Nā Anna

Anna Butler

Anna Butler

GM, Building System Performance

Building system updates

The Building Amendment Act 2019 has come into force

The Building Amendment Act 2019 (the Act), which was passed into law in June last year, came into force on December 18, 2019. Here’s a summary of the improvements the Act has introduced, and how it’s a great step towards keeping New Zealanders safe.

After the major earthquakes in Canterbury and Kaikōura, some gaps were identified in the current legislation regarding how to manage buildings in an emergency.

The Act made two key improvements:

  • Improved end-to-end management of buildings affected by an emergency, and
  • Improved legislative powers for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to investigate significant building failures.

Further information about the Act

Improved end-to-end emergency management

After an emergency takes place, an affected area can now be 'designated' for the emergency management of buildings. The designation can be made by Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) officials when a state of emergency or a transition period is in force for the area.

Where these are not in force, a territorial authority can designate an area with prior approval from the Minister for Building and Construction. Once the designation has been made, the new powers granted by the Act allow authorised people to:

  • evacuate buildings within the area if necessary to prevent the death or injury of any person
  • carry out a rapid building assessment
  • place notices or placards restricting the use of buildings to remove or reduce risks
  • put in place measures such as hoardings or fences to protect buildings or keep people at a safe distance
  • carry out or require works to keep people safe
  • protect buildings that are causing ongoing disruption to a public thoroughfare, the use of another building or critical infrastructure, and
  • require works to make buildings suitable for long-term use or occupation.

The Act also includes special provisions for the management of heritage buildings and places, including a requirement to consult Heritage New Zealand before any works are carried out. Ministerial approval is required before demolition works can be carried out to Category 1 or 'wāhi tūpuna' buildings, or to National Historic Landmarks. This places an extra level of protection over buildings and places of national significance to our history.

Improved investigative powers for MBIE

Before the Act was passed in December 2019, MBIE was required to investigate building failures on an ad-hoc basis subject to the cooperation of building owners, resulting in heavy reliance on incomplete information. MBIE now has clearer legislative powers to investigate significant building failures without needing permission from a building owner first. This means the Minister for Building and Construction or the Chief Executive of MBIE can initiate a building investigation when:

  • any part of a building hasn't performed as expected in light of the requirements that applied to its design and construction
  • the failure resulted, or could have resulted, in the risk of serious injury or death.

Moving forward, these investigations will help build our knowledge on what aspects of building design or construction could contribute to building failures. Any findings from MBIE investigations will be published on the building failure investigations page.

In conclusion

The Building Amendment Act 2019 has been a long time in the making – it was introduced to Parliament in June 2018, given the Royal assent in June 2019, and passed into law in December 2019.

This is a huge step towards keeping New Zealanders safe during an emergency, and arms MBIE with the ability to gather better knowledge around the causes of building failures and how to address them in future. So while the Building Amendment Act 2019 has taken a long time to become law, we believe it was worth the wait.

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Building law reform update

Over the last few months we've been meeting with industry to hear their thoughts on the law changes, and to make sure we're getting things right. Most recently, this has included a two-day workshop with building consent authorities.

In December, we announced that from 1 July 2020 the building levy rate will be reduced from $2.01 to $1.75 (including GST) for any building work that is over the $20,444 threshold (including GST). This year we will have further updates on the occupational regulation of engineers, licensed building practitioners (LBPs) and plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers (PGD). Government decisions about risk and liability are expected later this year.

2020 will bring more opportunities for engagement. The Minister of Building and Construction Hon Jenny Salesa is committed to introducing a Bill to Parliament this year, which will cover legislative changes in the areas of:

  • building methods and products
  • the building levy
  • offences, penalties and public notification.

When this happens, there will be an opportunity for you to take part in the Select Committee process.

Further information

More information about the building law reform is available on Building Performance website.

Subscribe to stay up to date on the building law reforms.

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Building Code update June 2020

Building Code updates will be open for consultation from 17 February 2020.

MBIE is committed to updating the Building Code so that it keeps pace with innovation, current construction methods and the needs of modern society.

As part of this, public consultation on proposed changes to the Building Code will open on 17 February 2020 as a continuation of the biannual Building Code update programme. These changes are intended to be published in June 2020.

The most significant proposals aim to do the following:

Increase clarity and consistency around fire safety requirements by:

  • improving building features for firefighter operations in emergencies to better align with current Fire and Emergency New Zealand procedures and equipment, and
  • amending fire testing requirements for cladding systems, so that international fire test methods can be considered.

Providing more options to comply with the Building Code for surface water drainage by:

  • issuing a new Acceptable Solution for the design and installation of stormwater drainage systems, and
  • making it easier to determine rainfall intensities for specific locations.

Provide a new Acceptable Solution for waterproofing in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries by:

  • referencing the Waterproofing Membrane Association code of practice for Internal Wet-area Membrane Systems.

These proposed changes support high-density housing, will make consenting easier, and ensure buildings are safe, healthy and durable.

Summary of changes

C Protection from Fire

  • C/AS1 and C/AS2 – Clarify the scope of risk group SH (residential housing) between the two documents
  • C/AS2 and C/VM2 – Amend fire testing requirements for cladding systems to reference large-scale international test standards as a means of demonstrating compliance
  • C/AS2 – Clarify and make the application of the document more consistent for means of escape, group sleeping areas, control of external fire spread and firefighting
  • C/VM2 – Amend design scenarios HS 'Horizontal fire spread' and VS 'External vertical fire spread' by changing the cladding requirements.

E1 Surface Water

  • E1/AS2 – Issue a new Acceptable Solution referencing AS/NZS 3500.3:2018 Stormwater drainage as a means of compliance with Building Code clause E1 Surface Water (with modifications)
  • E1/AS1 – Amend E1/AS1 Appendix A to replace the rainfall intensity maps with a table that provides current location-specific rainfall intensity data for ~250 NZ towns and cities.

E2 External Moisture

  • E2/AS1 – Minor amendments to existing references within Acceptable Solution E2/AS1 to support the introduction of Acceptable Solution E1/AS2 (E1 Surface Water reference updates).

E3 Internal Moisture

  • E3/AS2 and E3/AS1 – Issue a new Acceptable Solution for internal wet-area membranes and tiled showers referencing the Waterproofing Membrane Association code of practice for Internal Wet-area Membrane Systems. This is supported by amendments to E3/AS1.
  • E3/AS1 – Provide additional options to manage overflow risks in kitchens and laundries in adjoined household units.

G9 Electricity

  • G9/VM1 and G9/AS1 – Align G9/VM1 and G9/AS1 with WorkSafe requirements by referencing the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010
  • G9/AS1 – Align requirements for accessibility with NZS 4121:2001.

G13 Foul Water

  • G13/AS3 – Modify two additional clauses within AS/NZS 3500.2:2018 Sanitary plumbing and drainage to reflect the intent of figure 4.9.1 (a) 45° Junction at grade.

Other amendments are proposed for maintenance of the Building Code documents for these clauses, to update referenced standards, and provide editorial corrections to text.

We want to hear your thoughts on these proposals. Details of the proposals and how to make a submission will be available from 17 February 2020 on the MBIE website.

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How the Personal Property Securities Register can protect you

If you’re buying, selling, leasing or hiring out goods, or selling goods on consignment, you may be putting your business at risk if you don't register your personal property.

What is the Personal Property Securities Register?

The PPSR is an online noticeboard operated by the government where you can register a claim (or interest) in personal property (which generally includes almost anything of value – excluding land, fixtures and ships greater than 24 metres in length) and check if there is any debt or obligation attached to goods you may wish to buy.

The register helps businesses and individuals protect themselves financially, reduce investment risk, gain access to credit, and make better-informed financial and purchasing decisions.

How can the PPSR help me?

You can check the PPSR to see if valuable second-hand goods you are buying are debt-free and safe from possible repossession. This could apply to:

  • machinery
  • equipment
  • motor vehicles.

You can register on the PPSR when: 

  • selling on ‘retention of title’ terms
  • hiring, renting or leasing out goods for more than one year (or signing agreements that you think may run for more than one year).

If you don't register an interest in your goods on the PPSR as early as possible, and your customer goes broke before they have paid you, you may not recover what you're fully owed. However, if you have registered on the PPSR you may have a better chance of recovering the goods, or their value. 

To find out more about how the PPSR can help you or your business, mention the PPSR to your trusted professional advisor (for example, accountant, financial advisor or lawyer), or visit the PPSR website.

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LBP knowledge link

LBP Registrar’s update (Codewords 94)

Happy new year and welcome to 2020. I hope that your summer holidays have been restful and enjoyable.

We can expect yet another busy year ahead as things don’t seem to be slowing down. The recent National Construction Pipeline Report 2019 indicated continuing residential building sector growth to a massive $26.5 billion nationally in 2020.

Last year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) consulted on the biggest building law reforms since the Building Act was introduced in 2004. Over the next year, we look forward to seeing some of these changes flowing through and having real impacts. There will be further opportunities for you to have your say, so keep your eyes open for consultations and changes that might affect you.

Continuous improvement of the Building Code

In this edition, our first article covers the biannual update of the Building Code. The biannual consultation process is relatively new and presents an opportunity for better engagement with the industry, including licensed building practitioners (LBPs).

The latest round of updates, announced in November 2019, included changes to the requirements for foundations on liquefaction-prone ground. These changes will be highlighted in a further article in LBP Knowledge later this year.

Compliant timber joinery

Our second article looks at timber joinery. As Kiwi homes have changed, we are installing less timber joinery than we used to. However, it is far from obsolete. It’s important to meet current Building Code requirements using timber joinery, and this article provides some tips for specifying and selecting the right product for the job.

Thanks for reading. Until next time.

Duncan Connor
Registrar Building Practitioner Licensing

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Continuing to improve the Building Code

The Building Code is required to evolve over time to meet the needs of New Zealanders. To achieve this, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is holding biannual consultations and Code reviews.

Article is relevant to LBP licence classes: All

In New Zealand, building work must meet mandatory requirements. These are laid out in the Building Act 2004 and its supporting regulations – the Building Code.

The New Zealand Building Code is performance-based as opposed to prescriptive. A performance-based Building Code provides choice and flexibility in demonstrating compliance.

Options for demonstrating compliance

There are various compliance pathways that may be used to demonstrate that building work meets the minimum performance requirements set by the Building Code.

Compliance pathways that must be accepted as complying with the Building Code, which include:

  • Acceptable Solutions – simple step-by-step instructions that describe specific solutions for complying with the Building Code
  • Verification Methods – test or calculation methods for complying with the Building Code.

The Building Code, Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods documents require updating regularly to remain current with sector innovations and best practice.

Consulting on change

MBIE consults on the Building Code twice a year, every February/March and August/September. The consultation runs for 6 weeks, and stakeholders are invited to make submissions through the MBIE website on a range of issues raised for discussion.

After the consultation closes and all submissions are analysed, Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods are updated and published in June and November each year.

The purpose of these biannual updates is to ensure effective administration of the Building Code documents. MBIE is committed to updating these documents twice a year so that the Building Code keeps pace with innovation, current construction methods and the needs of modern society. It also provides clarity, certainty and consistency to the building and construction sector.

The first biannual update changes were published in November 2018, followed by a second set in June 2019. The most recent round was published in November 2019.

Latest changes

The November 2019 changes are to:

  • support safer and more resilient foundations for buildings on liquefaction-prone ground
  • improve consenting efficiency for steel-framed housing by introducing a new steel frame Acceptable Solution.

The change to foundation requirements on liquefaction-prone ground is already in place in the Canterbury region and will now be extended to all of New Zealand. This will provide clarity to both councils and engineers, ensuring new buildings are being built safely and strongly enough to withstand liquefaction risks.

MBIE is also making the National Association of Steel Framed Housing (NASH) standard an Acceptable Solution rather than an Alternative Solution. This will help support higher-density housing by increasing the number of construction material options available in compliance pathways.

More information

For more information you can check out the updated Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods on the Building Performance website. If you would like to receive email updates on changes to the Building Code and when consultations are open, subscribe to the Building Code Controls Update newsletter.

Quiz

1. How often are the Building Code, Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods documents updated?

a. Once every 2 years.
b. Twice a year.
c. Every time the Building Act is updated.

2. Acceptable Solutions are:

a. Simple step-by-step instructions that describe specific solutions for complying with the Building Code.
b. Test or calculation methods for complying with the Building Code.
c. The only solution that will be accepted under the Building Code.

3. How can you make submissions on a Building Code consultation?

a. By writing a letter to the minister.
b. Through the consultation section of the MBIE website.

Check answers

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Timber joinery and NZS 4211

Timber joinery is a feature of New Zealand heritage architecture and is a relevant part of building and renovation today.

Article is relevant to LBP licence class: Design

Timber joinery products can meet the requirements of the current Building Code if you know what to look out for. Following tried and trusted standards can give you confidence that you are following good practice.

Many benefits of timber joinery

Timber joinery provides many benefits:

  • Higher thermal resistance compared to some commonly used building products.
  • Condensation is reduced or eliminated with double-glazed timber joinery.
  • Joinery details that closely mimic the traditional appearance of timber joinery, allowing replacement and renovation work to blend seamlessly.
  • Surface coatings that can be repaired relatively easily on site and colours that can be changed to suit the client’s needs.
  • Added design flexibility due to the relative ease in modifying timber profiles.
  • Reduced carbon footprint as the product is manufactured from renewable timber resources, and with the proper maintenance, it can last 50-plus years.

Specify the right product for your job

In New Zealand, testing the weathertightness performance of individual windows and doors for external use is done using NZS 4211:2008 Specification for performance of windows. This standard also includes glazing systems.

Windows and doors that pass NZS 4211:2008 testing can be labelled as being in accordance with NZS 4211:2008. This includes the appropriate air leakage and wind zone rating for the product, as established through the testing.

Generally, when specifying windows and doors using NZS 4211:2008, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Establish the appropriate wind zone in accordance with NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings section 5.
  2. If the wind zone is beyond that given in NZS 3604:2011, see section 10 of NZS 4211:2008.
  3. Select a window that has been tested to NZS 4211:2008 and is labelled as suitable for the relevant wind zone.

In May 2014, the wind zones in NZS 4211:2008 were revised to align with the wind zones specified in NZS 3604:2011. This incorporates the extra high wind zone for more exposed building sites.

Some NZS 4211:2008-compliant timber joinery suites have been tested beyond the extra high wind zone, so specifying these can give you additional confidence in performance.

Easy to identify NZS 4211:2008-compliant joinery

It is easy to tell the difference between NZS 4211:2008-compliant timber joinery and other timber joinery. NZS 4211:2008-compliant joinery will be fitted with identification tags that show relevant wind zone and air leakage ratings:

Example NZS4211:2008 compliant timber joinery tag

It also has a unique identification number that can be traced back to the original registered manufacturer. Tags are typically installed on the frame in the rebate of an operable door or window sash, like those found on fire doors.

Registered manufacturers of NZS 4211:2008-compliant timber joinery must work to a manufacturing standard to ensure quality. Structural members within the joinery are individually calculated using specialist software and engineered calculation charts. Timber species and size can be altered to ensure relevant wind zone requirements are met.

More information online

NZS 4211:2008 is one of the standards funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to support Building Code compliance. The NZS 4211:2008 standard can be dowloaded free of charge on the Standards New Zealand website.

NZS 4211:2008-compliant timber joinery product and installation details can also be downloaded from the Joinery Manufacturers’ Federation website.

The documents available on the website outline opening trim preparation, flashing details, fixing methods and seal locations. They will assist in both detailing and installing timber joinery to appropriate standards.

Quiz

1. What is the simplest way to check that timber joinery is manufactured to NZS 4211:2008?

a. Measure window profile sizes and check the designer’s plans.
b. Locate the identification tag on the door or window frame.
c. Contact the manufacturer.

2. Can NZS 4211:2008-compliant timber joinery be used in an extra high wind zone?

a. Yes, if has been tested and certified for this use.
b. No.
c. Only if the homeowner signs a disclaimer.

3. How do you determine the wind zone of a property?

a. By using the procedure laid out in NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.
b. You need to measure the wind levels on site.
c. By checking the weather forecast.

Check answers

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Unlicensed builder sentenced under the Crimes Act

For the first time since the LBP scheme was launched, an unlicensed builder has been sentenced under the Crimes Act 1961.

In January, Rodney James Day was sentenced by the Christchurch District Court to seven months' home detention and ordered to complete 150 hours' community work.

The sentence followed his guilty plea in July last year to 15 charges brought about by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The charges included four counts of forgery under the Crimes Act.

Mr Day was also charged with 11 offences under the Building Act for undertaking restricted building work while portraying himself to be a licensed building practitioner (LBP), despite never holding a licence. Mr Day unlawfully carried out restricted building work on six different properties.

Deception and forgery

Forgery was involved in two separate instances at Christchurch properties. Mr Day told his client that his licence had expired and he would get a licensed practitioner to supervise and sign the work off. After completing the restricted work, Mr Day used the name and details of an experienced LBP, without their knowledge and never having met them, to complete the producer statements for the properties. In one case, the paperwork went on to be provided to a real estate company for use in the sale of the property.

The Judge noted in his sentencing that the offending was clearly pre-meditated and that the level of deception was high, as the defendant had deceived a large number of people who relied on the certification.

Impact of the offence

MBIE’s Occupational Licensing Operations Manager Duncan Connor says, "Mr Day deceived not only the people who hired him to undertake building work, he fraudulently used another person's details for his own benefit, not considering the impact this would have on them".

“The LBP scheme is in place to ensure consumers can make informed decisions when it comes to hiring builders to undertake restricted building work. This type of offending compromises the integrity of the LBP scheme and will not be tolerated.

In one case, the consequence of the offending has been particularly significant for one victim who said he trusted Mr Day with his business and his accounts.

The offending has had a financial impact on the victim’s business and affected his personal reputation. The victim’s company had to take out additional insurance to cover the work that was falsely consented and ultimately went into liquidation. In addition, they had to hire new contractors to redo or finish the work started by Mr Day.

“Charges under the Crimes Act are not brought about lightly, and MBIE will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute people who commit these offences,” says Mr Connor.

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LBP found negligent for not checking building consent exemption

An LBP was fined $6,000 after supervising building work without ensuring the necessary building consents were in place.

Between 2016 and 2018, the licensed building practitioner (LBP) in question supervised construction of 28 relocatable dwellings in Papamoa, 24 of which were completed and occupied. He had 10 years of experience in the industry, having previously carried out around 800 new residential builds.

During 2018, Tauranga City Council issued a stop work notice on the grounds that the construction of the 28 dwellings required building consents. The council later lodged a complaint against the LBP for carrying out unconsented work, and an investigation was opened by the Building Practitioners Board (the Board).

After learning of the complaint against him, the LBP provided a written response stating that he had been relying on advice from the property owner that building consents were not required for the project. He noted that, once he was made aware that this advice was incorrect, he had taken appropriate steps to obtain building consents.

Board decision

The Building Act states there may be grounds for discipline by the Board if an LBP has carried out or supervised building work or building inspection work in a negligent or incompetent manner. In this case, the Board had to decide whether the LBP had been negligent by carrying out building work that required building consents without those consents being in place.

The Building Act sets out that, unless an exception can be established, all building work requires a building consent. The Board noted that, after being informed by the client that building consent was not required, the LBP had taken no steps of his own to check that this was correct.

Because the LBP had continued with construction without checking whether building consents were required, the Board decided that he had committed a grave error in judgement, and that his actions constituted negligence. Due to the serious nature of the LBP's actions, the Board considered that disciplinary action was warranted.

What we can learn from this decision

It is the responsibility of LBPs to ensure that any building work they carry out or supervise has the necessary building consent in place before it is commenced. If LBPs receive advice from clients that building consent is not needed, it is still the responsibility of the LBP to check that this information is correct by making sure that it is covered under either Schedule 1 of the Building Act (which has limited exemptions) or by an exemption issued by the council. If there is any doubt, they should make enquiries with the building consent authority to ensure that full disclosure of the intended building work is made.

This decision and other past decisions can be read in full on the LBP website.

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Recent determinations

2019 recap of determinations

Last year, 70 determinations were issued, covering a wide range of topics from straw-bale houses to earthquake-prone building notices.

Some common topics for the year included pool safety, fire safety, and access routes. A few determinations from these topics are listed below:

Pool safety

2019/019 considered the size of the immediate pool area and the compliance of sliding doors as part of the barrier to the pool.

2019/025 discussed the compliance of an infinity pool.

2019/031 looked at the compliance of a pool barrier with palm trees adjacent to the barrier.

Fire safety

2019/004 concerned the compliance of the installation of a solid fuel heater.

2019/040 considered the amendment of a compliance schedule to remove the fire-rated mezzanine floor from the schedule for an early childhood centre.

2019/062 considered the escape path past the existing front house from a house at the rear of the site.

Access routes

2019/021 considered the compliance of a set of stairs designed for access to a mezzanine level in a farm building.

2019/041 discussed whether a lift is required to an elevated viewing platform of an arts centre.

Natural hazards

2019/059 considered whether the land is subject to a natural hazard, and whether the building work was a 'major alteration'.

2019/067 considered whether land adjacent to a coastal estuary is subject to a natural hazard - the hazard being inundation from rising sea levels and surface water flooding.

Novel cases

2019/006 considered the lifting of an insanitary building notice, and whether the building was insanitary or dangerous.

2019/015 concerned the refusal to extend the specific intended life of a straw-bale house.

2019/048 considered the refusal to issue a certificate of acceptance for plumbing and drainage work associated with a shipping container used as a mortuary.

2019/068 considered the issue of an earthquake-prone building notice for a reinforced concrete building.

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Previous issues

About Codewords: Our Codewords newsletter is published six times a year. It will keep you up to date on the latest regulatory and related information for the building and construction industry.

Codewords issues are available for two years after their publish date. If the issue you are looking for is older, please contact us.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: