Archive | Building Act

Feedback sought on new pool alternative solutions

The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment is seeking feedback on proposed new acceptable solutions to support changes to residential pool barrier requirements made by the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016. Consultation closes on Friday 16 December.

The amendment act repeals the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 and includes pool safety provisions under the Building Act 2004. It also creates new building code clause F9, which relates to residential pool barriers. Changes under the amendment act take effect from 1 January 2017.

The 2 new acceptable solutions are F9/AS1 Barriers for residential pools and F9/AS2 Covers for small heated pools.

The existing building code clause F4 requires swimming pools to have barriers that restrict access by young children. The schedule to the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act is an acceptable solution for clause F4. Proposed AS1 will largely reflect the schedule to that act.

The ministry said the main differences between the existing & proposed acceptable solutions relate to:

  • safety covers for spas & hot tubs – the amendment act provides that a safety cover can be used as a barrier. The proposed acceptable solutions contain specifications for safety covers
  • door alarms – the amendment act provides for door alarms to be used to help ensure doors are kept closed. The proposed acceptable solutions contain specifications for door alarms
  • boundary fences – acceptable solutions are proposed for boundary fences so, if the fence is high enough, owners will not need to ensure the other side of the fence remains clear
  • doors that open toward a pool area – the proposed acceptable solutions would make doors that open towards a pool area acceptable if the door closer is strong enough to restrict access by a young child.

Links: MBIE consultations
Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016

Attribution: Ministry release.

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Property Council suggests measures to help quake-affected owners

The Property Council said today it supported the Government’s stance on setting priorities for upgrading earthquake-prone buildings, but qualified that by adding: “A balance must be struck between public safety, the overall public good & economic impact of seismic strengthening.”

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said the only concern was around the unintended consequences of seismic strengthening laws: “For struggling regions or smaller communities, earthquake strengthening may lead to severe economic decline & flight of capital to larger cities.

“Some building owners simply cannot afford crippling strengthening costs, which leaves them no choice but to close their doors. The flow-on effects of this are loss of premises & business altogether.”

The Property Council called on the Government to establish a suite of tools to assist building owners with choices & options for strengthening, such as:

  • being able to deduct maintenance expenditure for tax purposes
  • owners being able to depreciate their buildings over 50 years, and
  • stopping the perverse outcome where remedial work won’t qualify as tax deductible while a collapsed or irreparably damaged building will.

Attribution: Property Council release.

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Government bows to quake survivor’s submissions

The Government has bowed to submissions from a Christchurch earthquake survivor on requirements for upgrading earthquake-prone buildings, adding a new category of priority buildings.

The new category to be included in the Building Act requirements covers parts of unreinforced masonry like parapets & facades. The Government aims to have the legislation passed by the end of the year.

Building & Housing Minister Nick Smith said yesterday the change followed select committee submissions from Canterbury earthquake survivor & Lincoln University senior lecturer in environmental policy Ann Brower.

Dr Smith said: “We need to heed every possible lesson from the 22 February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch in rewriting the building laws to minimise future fatalities. Falling parts of unreinforced masonry like parapets & facades killed 35 people that tragic day, including every passenger on the Red Bus except Ann Brower. I pay tribute to her fastidious advocacy & professional research that has persuaded us to change the law and prioritise these buildings for upgrade. I also acknowledge the strong submissions from Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel & her council.”

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill was reported back from Parliament’s Local Government & Environment Select Committee yesterday. It also includes many changes Dr Smith announced in May, such as zoning New Zealand into areas of low, medium & high risk, and the prioritising of education, hospital & emergency buildings.

“The significant change is adding a new category of priority buildings to cover those parts of an unreinforced masonry building like a parapet or veranda which could fall into a public road, footpath or other thoroughfare that has been identified by a council as having sufficient vehicle or pedestrian traffic to warrant prioritisation. It is estimated that some 2000 buildings nationwide will fall into this new category.

“The effect of being a priority building is that the times for assessment & upgrade requirements are halved. In a high risk area, this means the assessments will need to be completed in 2½ years instead of 5, and upgraded within 7½ years rather than 15. In a medium risk area, the assessments would need to occur in 5 years instead of 10, and the repairs within 12½ years rather than 25.”

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Building Amendment Act brings changes to residential work

The Building Amendment Act 2013 came into force on New Year’s Day with a number of changes for residential work.

Parliament passed the act in November 2013 as part of a package of changes which introduce new measures to improve the building sector. Amendments which take immediate effect include:

  • The type of work that doesn’t require a building consent has changed
  • Higher penalties apply for doing building work without the appropriate consents
  • A number of terms & definitions have been changed
  • Councils have increased authority to restrict entry to buildings that may be near buildings that are dangerous
  • The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) has more power to hold building consent authorities to account, and, separate from the general changes,
  • The way dams are defined & measured has changed.

Cabinet has agreed new consumer protection measures as a result of the act, including:

  • Mandatory written contracts for residential building work costing $30,000-plus (including gst)
  • A requirement for building contractors to provide checklists and disclose certain information for residential building work costing $30,000-plus (including gst) or when they are asked for this
  • Minimum content that must be included in all residential building contracts
  • Clauses that are taken to be included in a residential building contract that doesn’t contain all the minimum content, or in a contract for work costing $30,000-plus (including gst) that is not in writing
  • Information that a building contractor must provide to their client after the building work is completed
  • Infringement fees of $500 for breaching the contract, disclosure or checklist requirements.

Building & Housing Minister Nick Smith said builders would have to have written contracts, provide information on their relevant skills, experience & qualifications and disclose their insurance & warranty cover.

“These new requirements are about improving how building work is contracted in New Zealand. They ensure increased professionalism, open disclosure & clear expectations about what work is to be done, at what price and in what timeframe.

“Building & construction activity in New Zealand is expected to reach unprecedented levels. This makes it all the more important that we have an efficient industry in place that is capable of delivering the quantity & quality we need.”

Links: MBIE, Building Amendment Act page
Building Amendment Act 2013

Attribution: MBIE, ministerial release.

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Insurance Council wins again in court battle over quake-strengthening

The Insurance Council has won again in its third court battle over Christchurch City Council’s attempt to force owners – and thereby their insurers – to strengthen buildings beyond the “earthquake-prone” level, 34% of new building standard.

In the wake of the 2010-11 earthquakes, the city council wanted to make building owners strengthen their buildings to 67% of the standard.

The Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, High Court, the Court of Appeal and, yesterday, the Supreme Court supported the Insurance Council’s position, that 34% was enough.

The latest decision, by a 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court, was on an appeal by Canterbury University. The city council dropped out of the case after losing in the High Court, and the body corporate for the Oxford apartment building dropped out after losing in the Court of Appeal.

The university argued that a territorial authority was entitled to require that buildings be strengthened to a greater extent than that specified earthquake-prone level. Although the university accepted the interpretation of the lower courts & the royal commission was available to them, it argued that its interpretation better reflected the statutory context and, in particular, the focus on safety in the Building Act & instruments.

A lot of money is at stake. The difference between the city council policy & Insurance Council position amounted to about $140 million for the university.

The Insurance Council said the city council policy would have affected the costs to insurers & building owners of repairing or reinstating damaged buildings, the level of cover available under material damage insurance policies and the willingness of reinsurers to invest in the New Zealand market.

The Supreme Court majority of Justices John McGrath, Mark O’Regan & Peter Blanchard accepted the Insurance Council interpretation.

Although concurring in the result, Justices Susan Glazebrook & Terry Arnold gave separate reasons. Their view was that the danger to be removed by exercise of the power given to the city council was the likelihood of collapse in a moderate earthquake. They said the city council might accordingly require a building to be strengthened beyond 34% of the new building standard if that was necessary to reduce or remove that danger.

Link: University of Canterbury v The Insurance Council of NZ

Attribution: Judgment & court release.

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New disclosure rules written for builders

Builders will be subjected to a new set of disclosure rules from 1 January 2015.

The new rules will require them to have written contracts, provide information on their relevant skills, experience & qualifications and disclose their insurance & warranty cover for residential building work valued at over $30,000.

Building & Construction Minister Nick Smith, announcing the rules yesterday, said: “We need to improve how building work is contracted in New Zealand to ensure better quality work, improved affordability & fewer disputes.

“We need to replace a ‘she’ll be right’ with a ‘doing it right’ culture, with increased professionalism, open disclosure & clear expectations about what work is to be done, at what price and in what timeframe.

“It is very encouraging to see the huge growth in building activity to reach their highest rates in a decade, but it is in these buoyant times when the risks are greatest for cutting corners and compromising quality. These requirements will reinforce the good practice of many building repairers while constraining cowboys only interested in making a quick buck.

“The new requirements were approved by Cabinet on Monday and were made under part 4A of the Building Act amendments made in 2013.”

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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Terms set for disabled building access review

Terms of reference & timeframes have been set for a review of building access for disabled people.

Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson and Disability Issues Minister Tariana Turia said on Monday the review would look at how the Building Act & Building Code’s provisions relating to access for people with disabilities were being implemented when buildings were first constructed or altered.

Mrs Turia said disabled people were saying buildings were still being built that weren’t accessible to them, which limited their opportunities for education, employment and other ways to contribute to, and participate in, the community.

Link: Review terms of reference

Attribution: Ministerial release.

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MultiProof consent scope broadened

Published 8 June 2011

The Government has broadened the MultiProof regulations to accommodate a wider range of building designs.

MultiProof was introduced last year to cut red tape & cost without cutting corners. It originally allowed volume builders to obtain fast-tracked building consents for standard single building designs just once instead of several times.

Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said today: “Now that the service has proved itself, it is time to open MultiProof up to a broad range of building designs. Now buildings with several joined units, such as motels or townhouses, are eligible for MultiProof approval.

“Applicants must have the intention & ability to replicate their design at least 10 times in a 2-year period.”

MultiProof approval means the local council needs to check only site-specific conditions, reducing building consent processing times from 20 working days to about 3, thereby saving builders money & time.

Mr Williamson said the average cost saving on the consent process was about $1350. He said temporary accommodation for Christchurch had been fast-tracked by using MultiProof-approved designs.

Link: MultiProof

Earlier stories:

13 August 2010: Williamson outlines next moves to cut building red tape

12 July 2010: First MultiProof consent approvals

5 February 2010: MultiProof building consent service launched

12 November 2009: Multiple-consents fast track starts in February

28 August 2009: Williamson announces Building Act review terms, practitioner scheme changes

12 March 2009: Bill aimed at smoothing consent process gets first reading

12 June 2008: Minister announces moves to simplify consent process


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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Williamson outlines next moves to cut building red tape

Published 13 August 2010

Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said yesterday the Government would introduce more amendments to the Building Act to help cut red tape & bureaucracy and make builders more accountable.


Mr Williamson said Cabinet had agreed to introduce a range of amendments providing more incentive for builders to “build it right first time. Without compromising quality & safety, these amendments will help drive a more efficient & productive sector that stands behind the quality of its work."


He said the planned changes would be phased in. Some of the incentives to be introduced to Parliament this year included:

explicitly stating that builders & designers are accountable for meeting building code requirementsmandatory written contracts for building work above $20,000 that set out expectations, warranties & remedies, and how any disputes will be resolved, andrequiring those doing the work to explain what, if any, financial back-up or insurance they have to remedy any faults.


"I expect these measures will lead to fewer disputes and see most arguments sorted out quickly & relatively cheaply."


Mr Williamson said these changes were part of the Government’s Better building blueprint, a series of measures to make it easier & cheaper for New Zealanders to build good quality homes & buildings.


"We want to make it easier for homeowners commissioning building work to hold contractors to account for fixing any defects that do arise," he said.


Under the planned amendments, some minor, low-risk work such as building a carport or verandah would be exempted from the need for a building consent.


Mr Williamson said the Government could only make changes to the building consent process to reduce costs once it had confidence in the quality of what was being built.


The Government is proposing to introduce a stepped approach to building consents & inspections after mid-2012, once the other improvements are in place, to drive quality, including the licensing of building practitioners: "Under this stepped approach, the amount of checking & inspection will be directly aligned to the complexity & risk of the work, and the skills & capability of the people doing the work.


"For example, when building a stand-alone garage, the only check that may be required is that the work is being done by a licensed building practitioner. For building a simple one-storey house using proven methods & products, it would be quicker to get consent and would require fewer inspections with the local authority only focusing on the critical elements."


Longer term, Mr Williamson said the Government was also looking at how it could make the building consent system more nationally consistent & efficient: "This could be done through centralising some of the functions of building consent authorities, supported by an online consenting system. This has the potential to reduce costs significantly, but we need to balance that against the cost of change. We need to look at this area in more detail and will be discussing it with local authorities."


The planned changes to the Building Act are the result of a year-long review, which included consultation with interested parties. More than 380 written submissions were received during the public consultation process on the Government’s proposals to change the way the building industry was regulated.


Link: Building Act review


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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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First MultiProof consent approvals

Published 12 July 2010

Volume builders Spanbild NZ Ltd in Christchurch and Little Buildings Ltd in Palmerston North have had the first 2 MultiProof approvals issued to them.


MultiProof is a new streamlined national multiple-use approval service for volume builders, enabling them to obtain fast-tracked building consents for standard multiple-use building designs.


For building designs that have MultiProof approval, only site-specific conditions will need to be checked by local councils, reducing the timeframe for building consent decisions from 20 days to 10 days or less.


Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson said on Thursday: "MultiProof has already proved its worth. Little Buildings saved $2800 on consent fees for its first 2 houses and the consents were issued within 3 working days."


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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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