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Industry supports building law changes

The construction industry has voiced support for changes to New Zealand’s building laws.

In April this year the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) published a series of proposals for updates to building law. MBIE says the changes, aiming to improve the quality of building work, are the most significant reforms since the current Building Act was introduced in 2004.

MBIE received over 470 submissions. It says the feedback was strongly supportive of many changes, and how the proposals should go even further in some directions.

Around 32 percent of submissions came from consumers, 29 percent from engineers, 12 percent from builders and 7 percent each from designers and building consent authorities/officers.

The proposals cover changes to:

  • information on building products and methods
  • the definition of restricted building work    
  • raising competency standards
  • a new certification scheme for engineers
  • removing exemptions for plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers
  • guarantee and insurance products
  • building levy rates
  • changing offences and penalties.

The changes are likely to be implemented over the next two to five years.

You can find out more here.

 

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Over 120 standards now free

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has funded over 120 building standards for free download.

The standards available free are those that help demonstrate compliance with the Building Code. MBIE says the free standards are a response to building industry concerns that the cost of standards was a barrier to Code compliance. Among the free documents is NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.

The free standards cover a wide range of Building Code clauses. They include:

  • NZS 4229:2013 Concrete masonry buildings not requiring specific engineering design
  • NZS 4223.3:2016 Glazing in buildings - Part 3: Human impact safety requirements
  • NZS 8500:2006 Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs
  • NZS 1170.5:2004 Structural Design Actions - Part 5: Earthquake design actions - New Zealand

In December 2017, MBIE made five building standards and a handbook available for free. There have been over 15,000 downloads of these since then. Find more information here.

 

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MBIE reviews scaffolding, excavation regs

The government is reviewing regulations around safety in areas such as working at height, scaffolding and excavations.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is reviewing some of the regulations that sit under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. It has issued a publication Implementing to Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: Better regulation – Plant, Structures and Working at Height.

It has also developed a factsheet specifically for the construction industry on what is proposed. It points out that falls from height caused 18% of the cost of construction injuries in one 12-month period, and excavations were involved in 4 deaths and 27 serious injuries in the period 2008–2017.

There are also separate factsheets on working at heights and scaffolding, and excavations.
 
Submissions close on 4 October 2019. The government is planning to run a series of workshops on the proposed changes in different areas around the country.

You can find more information here.