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Cabinet approves insulation & smoke alarm regulations

Cabinet has approved new regulations detailing new insulation & smoke alarm requirements to implement changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Building & Housing Minister Nick Smith said: “These new tenancy regulations will make 180,000 homes warmer & drier by requiring insulation, and 120,000 safer by requiring smoke alarms. We are releasing the details of these new requirements now to give landlords & tenants as well as insulation & smoke alarm providers as much notice as possible to prepare for the new requirements.”

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill was reported back to Parliament on 8 April. It requires rental homes to have smoke alarms by 1 July this year and insulation installed progressively by 1 July 2019.

Dr Smith said the most significant change to the draft insulation regulations was not allowing retrofitting of conductive foil insulation: “The risk with retrofitting this form of insulation occurs when the foil becomes live from accidental stapling into wiring, and has resulted in deaths in New Zealand & Australia. Other changes include expressing the required insulation levels in ‘R’ values rather than thickness, and requiring insulation to be installed in accordance with NZS 4246: 2006.

“The most contentious issue was whether homes that had insulation – but not up to today’s standard – have to be upgraded. These regulations are not going to require an upgrade because the costs exceed the benefits and, inevitably, the costs are passed on to the tenant.”

Links: Tenancy Services: Warm, dry, safer
The Residential Tenancies Regulations(pdf 333.81 KB)
Cabinet paper Residential Tenancies Regulations(pdf 930.3 KB)

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Fletcher chief’s direction debated hard then supported, one aim is big lift in house & apartment construction

Fletcher Building Ltd chairman Ralph Waters confessed at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday that there had been rigorous debate among the board about the direction the chief executive of a year, Mark Adamson, was taking the company, but said: “We are all aligned around the direction Mark is taking”.

That direction has 3 prongs to it: continuing to tidy up the operations of existing businesses, lifting their horizons and dismantling the silo thinking.

“We believe the share price indicates support for the platform & growth plans,” Mr Waters said.

One big enabler of change has been the reduction in Fletcher Building’s gearing from 37% to 33%, with further reduction expected, putting the company in a stronger position for capital expansion should the opportunity arise and minimising its exposure to volatile financial markets. At this stage, however, Mr Waters said the company wasn’t looking for major acquisitions.

Mr Waters is in his last year with the company, which he joined 13 years ago as chief executive, shortly after its exit from being part of the Fletcher Challenge conglomerate. He retired as chief executive in 2006, became a non-executive director then took over as chairman in March 2010. He told the annual meeting he was due to retire in 2015, but intended to quit at the end of 2014.

An Australian engineer who came to New Zealand after a takeover ended his time as managing director of Email Ltd, he was appointed chairman of Woolworths Ltd last November and, in March, became chairman of the organising committee for the cricket world cup, which will be held in Australia & New Zealand in 2015. He’s also been chairman of Fisher & Paykel Appliances Holdings Ltd and a director of Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd & Westpac NZ Ltd.

Mr Waters said Fletcher Building’s outlook for the 2014 financial year was for operating earnings of $610-650 million ($569 million in the year to June 2013), but the strength of the $NZ against the $A could cost $15 million, and more if the kiwi strengthened further.

Mr Adamson’s FB Unite project has been aimed at lifting the group’s technological performance, enabling customers to deal more with its companies online, cutting down the silo walls and opening group companies to more organic growth opportunities. That project is expected to save the group $75-100 million/year pretax by 2015.

He said the group would maintain its focus on Australia & New Zealand, and commented that largescale acquisitions “are not a priority”.

He began simplifying the business, starting with the steel division then moving on to pipes, but the other big local project has been to ramp up Fletcher’s foundation business, house construction.

Mr Waters told a questioner at the annual meeting Fletcher Construction built 300 houses/year, but when Mr Adamson arrived last year he asked: ‘Why not 3000?’ “He’s going to try to have land available for 1000 by the end of the year.”

The company’s most obvious development has been Stonefields, where sold the old quarry, bought back the serviced sections from the developer and has been steadily raising a mix of houses. It’s just completed the Saltus apartment complex and expects to build more.

“We have several more apartment buildings planned for Stonefields and we see further opportunities to expand in the housing market in Auckland,” Mr Adamson said. “Bringing new housing solutions to the market will be critical. Auckland is going to need new standalone communities with a mix of terrace & standalone housing.”

One development already lined up outside Stonefields is on the Manukau golfcourse. The club is moving to a new course on cheaper land and Fletcher Construction will build 1000 homes over the next 6 years.

“Golf clubs are struggling to keep their membership. They are sitting on huge tracts of valuable land. This is not the only golf club we’ve been talking to in Auckland. The clubs don’t disappear – they move somewhere else where there is less demand for housing.”

In Christchurch, he sees construction lifting as the repair programme slows.

Attribution: Annual meeting.

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Quantity surveyors offer help with new insurance form

The Institute of Quantity Surveyors has launched a residential “reinstatement estimate” form in response to high demand from homeowners seeking accurate rebuild costs by construction cost specialists in the face of new house insurance policies.

Homeowners are now required to provide “reinstatement valuations” for the new “capped-sum” house insurance replacement policies – the maximum the insurer will pay if the home needs to be repaired or rebuilt.

Institute chief executive John Granville said today the form, endorsed by the Insurance Council, was designed to provide homeowners with an assurance of best practice in the calculation of a correct reinstatement cost estimate on their residence. While all NZIQS-qualified quantity surveyors are construction cost specialists, the form is sanctioned for signature only by an NZIQS-registered quantity surveyor.

Some insurance companies also offer online calculators to work out reinstatement values. However, Mr Granville said it wasn’t a simple process and didn’t cater for many homes with special features.

The institute’s website has the reinstatement estimate form and also lists registered quantity surveyors available to undertake residential work.

Link: Institute of Quantity Surveyors

Attribution: Institute release.

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UK cheap quality homes contest launched

Published: 2 April 2005

English Partnerships has launched a design for manufacture competition, selecting 4 sites for the pilot programme to build sustainable, well designed, good quality homes for around £60,000.

The redevelopment agency will invite organisations to bid for the right to build on one or more new developments on sites owned by English Partnerships and other public sector partners. About 470 homes will be built on the initial pilot sites.

“This competition will stimulate fresh thinking in the way we construct our homes and demonstrate how we can build more cost-effectively without sacrificing quality,” English Partnerships’ corporate strategy director, Trevor Beattie, said.”Construction costs have continued to rise above the rate of inflation at a time when we need to be building more homes for our money, not less. By using public sector land to provide the sites, developers will be able to focus all their efforts on achieving cost efficiencies and increasing design quality. Once we have established how these efficiencies can be made we expect them to be adopted across the whole supply chain.”A minimum of 30% of the homes will be built for a target cost of £60,000. The remainder will comprise larger & smaller units which will be built using equivalent processes & cost efficiencies. The figure of £60,000 is a target construction cost only, not a development cost or sale price.The competition will be open to all types of building methods, suppliers and per cent materials but, as a minimum, all homes must follow the principles of the Urban Design Compendium which English Partnerships & the Housing Corp published in 2000, and achieve the BREEAM Eco Homes standard of very good or equivalent.The initial pilot sites are mainly in South-east England growth areas and are part of larger schemes where infrastructure is already in place. Each competition site will include a range of housing types & tenures.As part of the process, English Partnerships will also be seeking opportunities for public participation & debate. It expects work on the first homes will start in the first half of 2006.

Websites: English Partnerships design for manufacture page



Earlier story:

19 March 2005: English working hard on good regeneration design


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