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Scoping changes to NZS 3604:2011

Standards NZ is scoping possible changes to NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.

Standards NZ is seeking feedback on the level of demand for seven proposed new features:

  1. Solutions for improved thermal performance
  2. Foundation solutions for expansive soils
  3. Foundation solutions for liquefaction-prone soils
  4. Steel bracing elements for wide openings
  5. Support systems for long-span beams, lintels, and trusses
  6. Framing around internal stairwells
  7. Isolated internal masonry walls

The work has been commissioned by the Building Performance branch of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The draft can be downloaded from here. The closing date for comments is 3 February 2020.




New houses emit too much carbon

A study looks at how NZ houses contribute to greenhouse gas targets.

A research team that included BRANZ scientists David Dowdell and Roman Jaques has calculated how much carbon dioxide new three-bedroom homes can emit in their lifetimes to help meet climate targets (where the world warms no more than 2°C). New Zealand houses currently produce five times too much carbon dioxide.

The study set climate targets for individual buildings with a whole-of-life cycle approach. It assigned a share of the 2°C global carbon budget out to 2050 to a country, its construction sector, and to each life cycle stage of a building.

The study considered detached houses of 198 m2 gross floor area, a representative residential type. The average climate impact of three new-built houses was compared with the target. The climate impact of the new-built houses exceeded the target by a factor of five.

The study's lead author was Chanjief Chandrakumar of the New Zealand Life Cycle Management Centre at Massey University. Professor Sarah McLaren, also of Massey University, helped lead the study.

You can find more information here.



Subcontractors to get more protection

The government has flagged announcements around subcontractor protection.

An independent review conducted last year by accountancy firm KPMG found that most of the construction industry was complying with the retention money provisions in the Construction Contracts Act 2002.

However, the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation noted in December that “…the report findings raise some concerns around enforceable penalties, co-mingling retention monies, and a lack of guidance for construction firms.”

“The Minister of Building and Construction expects to make further announcements [in 2020] about work that will be undertaken to ensure subcontractors are protected.”

KPMG identified some gaps in the law that need to be addressed so that retention money can be properly administered when firms go bankrupt.

Where construction firms were not complying with the law, this was often due to a lack of available capital or complying financial instruments or inadequate accounting and financial processes within firms.

The review found that some companies mix retention money with other funds. “While this is allowed under the legislation, this creates a greater risk that funds will not be identifiable and clearly on trust in the event of insolvency.”

Subcontractors already have the legal right to inspect accounting records of firms to check that retention money is being handled properly, but they very rarely exercise this right.