When returning to a building site after it has been in lockdown, it is important to know the safety requirements for you and others on site. After any period away, think about the building materials exposed to the weather. Some may have been damaged or exceeded their exposure limits. This can affect building consents, Building Code compliance and product warranties.
NEW RULES were developed for working on construction sites under COVID-19 Alert Levels 2 and 3. There are residential construction protocols and separate vertical and horizontal protocols for commercial and civil construction. Downloading these from www.chasnz.org/covid19 and reading the protocols appropriate to your site is important.
Once you have the protocols in hand, preparing to check the state of the materials on site is the next step.
Before returning to site
Make a list of the materials left exposed, then find exposure limits in:
- building consent documents
- manufacturers’ literature
- product warranties
- product Appraisals – for those with an Appraisal.
Identify which materials may have exceeded their limits. You may need to contact the manufacturer, building consent authority (BCA) or designer to check whether a material:
- needs to be tested
- needs to be replaced
- can be repaired or remedied
- can have its exposure limit extended given the mild weather.
Write down decisions made and people spoken with so that later you have evidence for Code compliance. If a manufacturer extends its exposure limits, get this in writing.
When returning to site
- Identify whether any materials are damaged.
- Where you can’t verify exposure limits or they are due to expire, protect the materials until they can be checked or the building closed in. Keep note of what you have done and take and save photographs.
- If a material needs to be replaced, replacement materials must be as specified in the consent documents. Materials cannot be substituted without approval of the designer and BCA, and a consent variation may be required.
- Check and record moisture levels. Ensure that moisture won’t be trapped in cavities and
- that joints and connections have not been compromised. Timber framing must be within permitted moisture levels (confirmed by a BCA inspection) before installing plasterboard, plywood and claddings. Check the manufacturers’ technical literature and the figures in NZS 3602:2003.
- Check excavations for soft spots from water ponding.
- Ensure ready-to-pour foundations are clear of debris and there is no standing water on the damp-proof membrane.
- In exposed coastal areas, clean off salt that may have been deposited on materials, especially metal surfaces.
- Work out how you would protect the site and materials if the country had to return to Alert Level 4.
For more information
Further information about COVID-19 can be accessed at:
- MBIE – www.building.govt.nz/covid-19
- BRANZ – www.branz.co.nz/covid-19
- Construction Sector Accord – www.constructionaccord.nz
- Master Builders Association – www.masterbuilder.org.nz
- Civil Contractors New Zealand – civilcontractors.co.nz
- CHASNZ – www.chasnz.org/covid19
- New Zealand Institute of Architects – www.nzia.co.nz/explore/covid-19-information
- Property Council New Zealand – www.propertynz.co.nz/covid-19
These are stressful times. If you are finding it tough going – or someone you know is – MATES in Construction has a 24-hour support line 0800 111 315. Free text 5353 or see mates.net.nz/.
Articles are correct at the time of publication but may have since become outdated.