Major changes

By - , Build 185

In the third part of this series on the history of the Licensed Building Practitioners Scheme, we look at the period when we knew we had a real problem with weathertightness.

THE REPORT of the Overview Group on the Weathertightness of Buildings – better known as the Hunn report and named after the chairperson of the Group – was released by the Building Industry Authority (BIA) in the second half of 2002. The recommendations in that report were the catalyst for major changes in the way we build.

Terms of reference

The Group was established to look at the nature, extent and effects of the failures, possible inadequacies in the Building Code and consenting and inspection processes.

It also looked at products and materials, trade skills and responsibilities, potential deficiencies in and the administration of the Building Act and Regulations and whether we were following the purposes and principles of the Act.

Many recommendations for change

The report included 20 recommendations. Several of these called for the BIA to do such things as:

  • issue public warnings about the risk of collapse of cantilevered decks supported by untreated timber – remember the deck from Build 183, Building failures ring alarm bells
  • assess and publicise the health risks associated with fungal decay
  • revise E2/AS1 – the external moisture Acceptable Solution in the Building Code
  • work with the Building Officials Institute of New Zealand (BOINZ) to look at the level of information required in building consent applications and to develop stronger inspection regimes
  • review current product appraisal practices
  • take a more proactive stance to research within the industry.

Other recommendations for the building sector included the BIA:

  • looking at providing interpretation guidelines for the Act and determining the need for tertiary qualifications and continuing professional development programmes for inspectors
  • looking at improving the definitions of the roles, responsibilities and obligations of all parties through building contracts
  • working with the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) and appropriate sector groups to review the carpentry apprenticeship to ensure an appropriate balance of academic and practical knowledge
  • improving accountability for the quality of construction under our current performance-based system
  • keeping the public and industries such as banking and insurance fully informed.

Report changed our industry

All the recommendations in the report were acted upon to some extent, many of them creating very real changes to the way we regulate and build in this country.

This includes the more highly qualified building consent officers and more detailed site documents and inspection requirements we have today. It also included the accreditation of building consent authorities, changes to apprenticeship training and outcomes, a massive increase in the size of E2/AS1 and more detailed and available manufacturers’ instructions.

There was, however, another recommendation that resulted in arguably the biggest change to our industry since the introduction of the Building Act 1991:

  • ‘That the BIA in conjunction with the appropriate affected sector groups:
    • a. explore the issues involved in advocating the national registration of builders and building related trades, given the contents of this report and concerns expressed about the standards of some trade practices on-site; and
    • b. support such advocacy if it is convinced of the benefits to the industry.
  • That the BIA: promotes debate on the issues of trade regulation, professional education and builder registration at the proposed executive forum.’

The Building Act 2004

The Building Act 2004 was how many of the changes inspired by the Hunn Report were made, but it was Subpart 4 that introduced the beginnings of the LBP Scheme. This said that ‘all restricted building work must be carried out or supervised by a licensed building practitioner’.

It was a further 8 years until the introduction of restricted building work, but the wheels were now set in motion. First, restricted building work needed to be defined, and the people involved in that work needed to be identified.

The definition and licence classes were identified:

  • Restricted building work (RBW) is work that is critical to make a home structurally sound and weathertight. It covers residential design, construction or alteration work that requires a building consent, and involves a home’s primary structure, weathertightness and certain fire safety design – such as in apartments and townhouses.
  • Licensed building practitioner (LBP) licence classes are design, carpentry, roofing, brick and block laying, external plastering, foundations and site.

For more See further information on restricted building work. See the next issue for the continuation of this series. 

 

Quiz:

1. What was the Report of the Overview Group on the Weathertightness of Buildings better known as?
a. The Overviewing group report.
b. The Hunn report.
c. The Requirements for Building Work report.

2. Who did the BIA need to work with to review the carpentry. apprenticeship?
a. BRANZ.
b. BOINZ.
c. BCITO and appropriate sector groups.

3. What is restricted building work (RBW)?
a. Residential design, construction or alteration work.
b. It requires a building consent.
c. It involves work on the home’s primary structure.
d. It involves work on the home’s weathertightness envelope.
e. It involves the design of certain fire safety systems.
f.  Includes all of the above.

Answers: 1.b,  2.c,  3.f.

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