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Regulator coming for drinking water

The government will introduce a new regulator to ensure drinking water is safe.

An independent standalone Crown entity will be created through legislation in 2020.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the regulator will:

  • deliver a strengthened approach to drinking water regulation and have a clear focus on drinking water safety
  • have an organisational structure that prioritises drinking water regulation
  • help build and maintain public confidence in drinking water safety
  • build capability among drinking water suppliers by promoting education and training
  • ensure that tikanga Māori, kaitiakitanga and Te Mana o te Wai with regard to drinking water will be enabled and supported
  • contribute to improved environmental outcomes for fresh water by providing central oversight and guidance for the sector’s wastewater and stormwater regulatory functions.

There have been numerous instances of drinking water contamination in recent years. One of the worst was in Havelock North in August 2016. Around 5,500 of the town’s 14,000 residents were estimated to have become ill, 45 seriously enough to be hospitalised. It is believed that the contamination contributed to three deaths.





New book on multi-storey timber buildings

BRANZ has released a publication about light timber-framed buildings up to 6 storeys.

Designers who want to use timber framing for buildings higher than 2.5 storeys and outside the scope of NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings have new locally-developed guidance. The BRANZ publication, Multi-Storey Light Timber-Framed Buildings in New Zealand – Engineering Design, covers Building Code-compliant design for light timber-framed structures up to 6 storeys within existing standards.

The guidelines give designers and developers robust options using local resources and techniques that are well understood in the construction sector.

While the focus is on structural solutions, the publication also covers fire and acoustic performance, floor vibrations and weathertightness.

There is a growing interest worldwide in larger timber structures. Timber is a renewable resource that is widely available, and the fact that timber stores carbon makes it especially attractive in the move to a low-carbon economy.

The publication is available in PDF and ePUB formats at no cost. It can be downloaded from the BRANZ website.

Find more details here.




Building law changes coming in 2020

The government has given details of building law changes it plans to introduce in 2020.

In April, the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) published a series of proposals for updates to building law. MBIE received over 470 submissions in response. Many submissions from the building industry were broadly supportive of the changes.

While there are plans for a wide programme of changes that will extend over several years, the first changes the government intends to make have now been announced. The government plans to introduce a bill into parliament in the first half of next year.

The changes slated for 2020 include:

  • Building product manufacturers and suppliers will be required to provide plain English descriptions about how their products should be installed and maintained. They must provide evidence for claims they make about product performance. MBIE is currently working with stakeholders on the fine details of what will be required.
  • A new nationwide certification/consenting process will be introduced for prefab houses. For manufacturers who comply, only the location where a prefab home is installed will require a consent, avoiding potential duplication. The number of required inspections is likely to fall.
  • The product certification scheme CodeMark will be strengthened.
  • The building levy will drop from $2.01 to $1.75 (incl. GST) per $1,000 of consented building work above a threshold of $20,444 (incl. GST). It is estimated that this will shave $80 off the cost of an average new house build.
  • The Government is increasing penalties for breaches of the Building Act – in some cases by more than ten times – and will set higher penalties for companies than individuals. (Some of the current fines have not been adjusted in 15 years.) The timeframe for filing charges will be extended from 6 to 12 months. The new penalties will apply as soon as the law is changed, which is planned for mid-2020.
  • Notifications under the Building Act will be made online and no longer be published in newspapers.

You can find more information here.