Standards and complying with the Code

This Issue This is a part of the Building controls feature

By - , Build 108

Standards are used to help meet industry best practice and sometimes provide a means of compliance with the Building Code.

All building work must comply with the Building Code. ‘Standards referenced in compliance documents provide crucial, cost effective and practical guidance for building consent applicants as a means of this compliance,’ says Debbie Chin, CEO of Standards New Zealand.

Compliance documents comprise both Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods. Standards are often referenced in compliance documents as Acceptable Solutions or Verification Methods in their own right and are an essential part of either. Buildings constructed using such methods are deemed to comply with the Code, as long as they use a referenced Standard.

Proposals for building work that differ in whole or in part from the compliance documents comprise Alternative Solution proposals. Such designs are frequent and also often rely on Standards for their basis. Alternative Solutions must be approved by the Building Consent Authorities as meeting the required performance standards in the Code.

How Standards help

Standards provide practical guidance about building practices for builders, designers, architects, plumbers, building officials and the industry as a whole. They are recognised for their independence and integrity, and have a high level of industry acceptance. By incorporating industry best practice, Standards are agreed specifications for processes, services, products, or performance.

Certain Standards provide, or contribute towards, an achievable means of complying with the Building Code. They are referenced in the compliance documents by the Department of Building and Housing. Designs based on Standards as referenced in the Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods are deemed by the Department to meet Building Code requirements. Building Consent Authorities face a much lower likelihood of legal challenge when compliance documents are used, because their liability is limited to checking that the compliance document has been applied correctly.

Many Standards are cited in compliance documents

Standards New Zealand (Standards development), BRANZ (research) and the Department of Building and Housing (regulator) need to work together. Debbie believes closer working relationships are essential to significantly improve timeliness and productivity for the sector and reduce duplication.

There are over 600 current building-related New Zealand Standards, and over 200 of these are referenced in the compliance documents. They range from design and construction, construction products and water services, through to fire protection, building services, structural engineering and energy efficiency in buildings.

The following are some examples of Standards that are cited in compliance documents.

  • NZS 3604: 1999 Timber framed buildings is referenced in Acceptable Solution B1/ AS1. By following NZS 3604: 1999, building consent applicants will have a means of compliance with Clause B1 Structure of the Building Code.
  • NZS 3603: 1999 Timber structures Standard used in conjunction with NZS 4203: 1992 loadings standard both as referenced and modified by Verification Method B1/VM1, is a Verification Method that may be used by a designer of any timber structure.
  • NZS 4218: 2004 Energy efficiency — Housing and small building envelope, as referenced and modified by Acceptable Solution H1/AS1 and Verification Method H1/VM1 respectively, provides an Acceptable Solution and a Verification Method for meeting certain performances of Clause H1 Energy efficiency of the Building Code.
  • AS/NZS 4284: 1995 Testing of building facades, as referenced and modified by Verification Method E2/VM1, provides users with a Verification Method for meeting the performance requirement of Clause E2.3.2 External moisture of the Building Code.

Standards since 1930s

Standards New Zealand was established in 1932, following the Hawke’s Bay earthquake, and its involvement in the building sector remains strong. ‘We work as a “connector” between the building industry, regulators and end users to ensure each Standard is relevant, credible and widely accepted in the sector,’ says Debbie.

Standards represent all relevant sections of the building sector and include public consultation to ensure the widest possible input to their development. As well as drawing on experts from New Zealand, Standards New Zealand has access to Australian and international Standards and expertise.

New Zealand Standards are used by a diverse range of organisations to enhance their products and services, improve safety and quality, and meet industry best practice. ‘Standards New Zealand is committed to continuing to work with government, industry and the public to ensure that the economic and practical benefits of Standards are realised,’ says Debbie.

For more

For more information, visit, click the ‘Standards by industry’ tab, or enter the keyword ‘building’ in the search field.

Download the PDF

More articles about these topics

Articles are correct at the time of publication but may have since become outdated.