Building Code review workshops
A full review of the New Zealand Building Code is under way as part of the Building Act 2004 implementation.
The Department and Building Research have hosted workshops in recent months to gather community views and expert opinion on building and housing.
"The Building Code review is one of the important planks in the new Act," says Mike Stannard, Operations Manager of Building Controls. "We need to consider how the current Code is working, what needs to be regulated, and what the performance standards should be. We want a Code that is relevant to New Zealand, relevant to its users, and clear and appropriate to all buildings."
The Wellington community workshops were held in November, followed by Auckland events in February.
At each series, approximately 150 participants gave their views, ideas and expectations about the buildings they live, work and play in. They represented a diverse range of interests including community housing groups, support services for families, older people and those with disabilities, community centres, ethnic, cultural and migrant communities, local authorities and building trade and industry organisations.
Free-flowing discussions covered many topics, including health and safety, facilities for people with disabilities, apartments, heritage buildings, saving water and electricity, natural emergencies and the cost of housing.
Many arrived primed with issues to put on the agenda for the day and new ideas emerged during the discussion. For example, there was strong articulation of the need for buildings to have long lives and for design and construction methods to be used that allow buildings to be adapted as society or technology changes.
"These workshops arena just for show they're about people having real input into the Code", said Building Code review project manager Peter Thorby, "because what the review comes down to is the future of buildings in New Zealand."
"Everyone who attended got the chance to have their say.'"
The workshops on 22 and 23 March in Wellington showcased a range of viewpoints from local, national and overseas participants. International experts included Paul Everall, former Head of the Buildings Division at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in the UK, and Brian Meacham, Risk Consultant leader for Arup America.
Other organisations present included:
- 'The New Zealand Fire Service
- Auckland Regional Council
- Waitakere City Council
- Building Research
- Wellington Medical Research
- CCS Auckland Disability Awareness
- Ministry of Economic Development
- Winstone Wallboards.
Among the wide-ranging topics considered in relation to a new Code were:
- key trends and developments in the New Zealand building environment over the next 5-10 years (political, economic, social and technological perspectives)
- quality-of-life building issues such as ventilation and natural light
- access issues
- cultural diversity
- sustainable development.
The workshop outcomes will inform the ongoing development of a new framework and Building Code, with a final report to the Minister (including the new Code) due in 2007.
The workshop series has been invaluable for getting as many perspectives as possible, said Peter Thorby. We've had conflicting opinions, we've had arguments "it's been exactly the kind of robust discussion we wanted. Underlying it all, too, everyone's aware of how important the Code review process is: that this is a crucial part of getting the Building Act to work."
Building Code Review - an overview
The Building Code Review extends to 2007 and will:
- review the current Code against the requirements of the Building Act 2004
- confirm how well the Code is meeting user needs
- gain an understanding of user and societal expectations of a building code
- review international performancebased building codes
- consult widely regarding proposed changes to the Code
- prepare a report to the Minister (including a proposed new Code)
- publish the Code
- define and implement an education programme covering the changes.