Floor NZ has had a Zoom meeting with the MBIE representatives involved with the current E3/AS1 amendments. Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is the governing body for the Building Law reform programme. The building Amendment Act ( Building Products and Methods, Modular Components, and Other Matters) came into Law 7 June 2021. It is a programme to work to lift performance of the regulatory system. Further information can be found on https://www.building.govt.nz/getting-started/building-law-reforms/background-to-the-building-law-reforms/
While MBIE were not able to provide specific guidance of how flooring products or situations comply with a Building Consent Authority, they did provide the intent for the change as being to tighten up E3/AS1 because it had too many Acceptable Solutions. One example given was carpet over a polyurethane floor. MBIE’s position is that the Government cannot guarantee Code of compliance and the onus must go back on to industries to ensure their products and systems conform with every day Consumer/Commercial Protection Laws.
The intent was not to prevent the use of the many flooring options NZ and the world use every day, but to provide a pathway of how they can be used by submitting these as Alternative Solutions with supporting information as part of the consent process. The Alternative solution may also involve a combination of products, systems and construction designs. MBIE also wanted to bring the NZ building code in line with other overseas countries and sited Australia and the UK as having similar Deemed-to-Satisfy provisions.
Below are the two latest articles form BRANZ that provide up to date information on the pathway of one or a combination of eight compliance paths used in the consent process for Alternative Solutions. Two areas that are causing confusion are Watersplash (protection from water getting underneath a floor covering) and Containment (protection from accidental overflow that could damage an adjoining household unit or other property). Briefly summarising some key points, the writer suggests that designers do not have to stick to Acceptable solutions for compliance’ and ‘many of the acceptable solutions are relatively limited in scope, and in some cases, they do not cover many of the relatively common building systems used in the construction industry’. In the situation if ‘a proposed alternative is not compliant, the building control officer processing the application must identify the aspects of non-compliance and why it cannot be accepted as an Alternative Solution’.
The article also points out that an Acceptable solution by one council does not make precedence for another council.
Floor NZ has been made aware that there have been instances where designers and group builders are being informed that timber/vinyl plank based products are not able to meet compliance. This information is misleading as MBIE’s position was that this is not the intent of the changes and that Alternative Solutions provide the pathway for the consent of these products.
The flooring industry can apply to have further amendments made to E3, however this is a lengthy process with any proposals needing to be submitted before August with public consultations going out in April the following year. As the flooring industry navigates its way through this change, Floor NZ is looking at how our industry can work together to provide further clarity on how Alternative Solutions fit with the intent of the E3 amendments. There will be variations amongst councils so it is important with any consented Alternative Solution that care is taken when pricing work to make sure any systems specified are priced accordingly and are carried out at the time of application/installation.
To help with this please keep us informed if you have any council consent or non-consent experiences with Alternative solutions.
Contact: Jeff Henry
mob +64 27 316 8688