Summary and materials of the 29 August 2019 meeting of the Building Code Technical Risk Advisory Group (BCTRAG).
The Manager, Building Performance and Engineering (BPE) presented a business update, covering the:
- third biannual Building Code update which trialled the use of digital advertising
- successful provision of free access to some New Zealand Standards.
The Manager, BPE also gave the background to the Higher Density work programme that resulted from the 2018 More Efficient Consenting (MEC) project. MEC was executed to identify gaps and potential actions MBIE could take to provide clarity and make compliance easier for three–six-storey dwellings.
The Higher Density project identified eight Building Code clauses anticipated to deliver the biggest benefit for density housing and work is now underway to develop a multi-year work programme for each clause.
Also discussed was the Building System Performance (BSP) Climate Change Project which aims to consider how the built environment can contribute to the Government’s climate change goals, and what role the building regulatory system might play.
Seven risk submissions were received and four risks were discussed at the August meeting with a broad agreement that industry and government collaboration will be important.
Passive fire protection
The group identified that this risk arises due to systemic breakdowns in the quality assurance and compliance process across the industry.
The group agreed that this is not an isolated Building Code issue and instead requires a system-wide response.
Disconnect between structural and fire engineering
The group identified that issues are arising regarding the clarification of roles and responsibilities where construction and design elements intersect. This risk extends to other professions including architects, trades, BCAs and project managers.
The group agreed that modifications to the Building Code cannot resolve this issue in isolation, although changes were suggested to clarify roles and responsibilities.
MBIE advised that there are work packages underway in these areas.
Aluminium composite panels
A strategic risk was highlighted for combustible claddings (e.g. aluminium composite panels) that the assumptions in the fire settings may be challenged by the increased speed and potential of fire spread of new design innovations and/or new products.
MBIE agreed that the most relevant aspect of this is to understand the current assumptions around fire spread in Building Code performance settings, as innovations in products and design may not suit these assumptions.
Training and education
The group acknowledged that there is a broad issue present regarding base knowledge, ongoing training and upskilling. Training that is provided by industry groups and apprentice programmes may not include sufficient details of the legislation or the role and responsibility of other industry groups, which is resulting in confusion.
The group agreed that education is often the role of the occupational licensing board and enhanced training around how the Building Code works, especially its performance-based requirements, could benefit the industry.
MBIE advised that online learning modules are currently being developed to help users understand the Building Code.
The next meeting of the BCTRAG will be 27 November 2019 in Wellington.
If you have any risks you would like to be raised for discussion, contact the BCTRAG member associated with your role in the industry.