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Consensus reached, DZ 3910:2023 draft agreed.

We’re pleased to announce that the balloting phase of the NZS 3910 revision has been completed successfully, with all 23 committee members, as representatives of their nominating organisations, unanimously voting positively on the draft.

‘This is major milestone to reach for one of our most hotly anticipated standards revisions,’ says Principal Standards Project Manager Inge Mautz-Cooreman. ‘We’re now on the home straight for publication of NZS 3910:2023 ready to fill your Christmas stocking.’ 

A big shout out to our P3910 committee and everyone at Standards New Zealand who has been part of this incredible journey.  We have another two busy months ahead of us with lots of mahi tahi to get to the finish line taking it from draft form to final publication. The draft is planned to be put forward for approval by the Standards Approval Board in November.

Public consultation now closed

Thank you to tall those who provided feedback on the draft through the public consultation that ran until the end of June. A massive 2,274 comments were submitted through the new consultation hub tool. The P3910 committee is currently considering the comments, and will update the draft according to the decisions made.

The standard is scheduled to be published later this year.

Committee chair reports

The committee chair's reports below provide further detail on achievements so far and next steps:

Update on the revision of NZS 3910 - July 2023 [PDF, 178 KB]

Update on the revision of NZS 3910 - May 2023 [PDF, 168 KB]

Update on the revision of NZS 3910 - December 2022 [PDF, 188 KB]

Update on the revision of NZS 3910 - October 2022 [PDF, 220 KB]

Update on the revision of NZS 3910 - August 2022 [PDF, 202 KB]

Update on the revision of NZS 3910 - May 2022 [PDF, 190 KB]

Update on the revision of NZS 3910 - March 2022 [PDF, 125 KB]

For the current phase and next steps in the project see the timeline and process.

NZS 3910 update - Development approach

Tackling the scope of the review

The revision of NZS 3910:2013 – Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering construction has a wide scope. The committee is dealing with a large number of topics identified as part of the scoping review which will be addressed both in the interim review and full revision.

To make the review process manageable, topics for review have been allocated into five working groups. The working groups are each made up of members of the committee and are structured as follows:

  1. Contract, indemnity and insurance, conditions of tendering, exclusions of consequential loss
  2. Obligations, engineer to the contract, payment and disputes 
  3. Variations, extension of time, defects and warranties, liquidated damages
  4. Interim review (Legislative amendments, COVID-19/pandemic clause, Collaboration and Liability clauses
  5. Authorship and technology

The working groups convene meetings to discuss the issues related to their topic areas and clarify the specific problem, explore options, and develop proposals. The working groups report back to the committee to present their findings, seek direction, and achieve consensus on proposed changes to the contract.

Some of these topics are significant to the contract and will cut across a number of discussions of the working groups. To avoid siloed thinking and obtain full consultation, the committee identified the following ‘all-in’ topics for initial consideration by the review committee.

  • The role of engineer to the contract
  • Programme/extension of time
  • Variations
  • Early contractor involvement
  • Collaboration
  • Disputes

The committee will consider each topic to provide direction to the working groups. This will consider the scope and context of the topic (including reference to past studies, reports and industry comment, and common special conditions), then seek to clarify the specific problem and how/if the review can address it.

By way of example, the role of engineer to the contract is mentioned at least 130 times in the contract. The committee discussed and agreed that the following problems can be addressed by the review:

  • The need to simplify and clarify the role of the engineer
  • The lack of recourse/ability for the contractor to object to bias
  • The ability of the ETC to review their own decisions

How the working groups progress each topic

The committee determined that each topic will be required to be addressed through a five step approach.

Step 1 - Information

The first task of the working group is to consider the scope and context of the topic including reference to past studies, reports and industry comments, and commonly used special conditions.

Step 2 - Analysis

The working group seeks to clarify the specific problem(s) and how/if the review can address it. The outcome of this work is presented to the committee who will then provide direction to the working group on the principles to be followed in developing and formulating options for further consideration.

Step 3 – Options creation

The working group develops options for addressing identified problem(s) based on a framework approach which can be used to guide drafting one or more parts of the contract at a later stage.

Step 4 - Judgement

The options developed by the working group are submitted to the committee for evaluation. The committee determines the preferred option that the working group should take forward in developing a draft.

Step 5 - Development

The working group submits the draft to the committee for review. The draft will then be signed off once the committee has reached agreement.

Diagram showing how the individual stages are grouped into two phases. Divergent phase includes stages called information gathering and analysis. This is further broken down into reviewing and identifying current concerns, looking at case studies, clarifying principles and application and discussing and documenting issues and concerns. The second phase is convergent bringing together stages for options creation, judgement and development. These are further broken down into general options for drafting, evaluating options, selecting preferred and then developing and writing the draft brief. From all this consultation will follow.

Diagram showing the phases and stages for each working group

Critical foundations laid for success

The committee determined that there needs to be a strong focus on defining the problems with the current contract, as well as adopting a principles-based approach to identify the issues that need to be addressed (Steps 1 and 2). This approach is critical to ensuring that the contract is developed in a way that is consistent, coherent and achieves the outcomes that the review is seeking to deliver.

Interim revision

The original scoping review proposed that an interim revision would be made to the current standard contract to address non-contentious issues, including:

  • Legislative amendments
  • COVID-19 (pandemic) clause
  • Collaboration (Accord objectives)
  • Liability cap optional clauses.

The committee is currently evaluating the extent to which it is able to include these changes within the interim revision given the complexity of the subject area, and whether these can in fact be deemed to be non-contentious. The committee will endeavour to have a clear picture of the extent to which these issues can be addressed in the interim revision following the upcoming July meeting.

Committee selection

Standards New Zealand is pleased to announce that the Standards Approval Board has approved 25 committee members including the chair, for the revision of NZS 3910:2013 Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering construction.

We had an overwhelming response of high calibre nominees to the request for nominations. Unfortunately, not all nominees could be selected due to the limited size of the committee.

Please find below the organisations that are represented in the P3910 committee:

  • Association of Consulting and Engineering New Zealand & Engineering New Zealand
  • Arbitrators and Mediators Association of New Zealand
  • Auckland Council
  • Civil Contractors New Zealand
  • Institute of Public Works Engineers of Australasia
  • Kainga Ora
  • KiwiRail
  • Taituarā – Local Government Professional Aotearoa
  • Ministry of Education
  • New Zealand Government Procurement (MBIE - NZGP)
  • New Zealand Construction Industry Council
  • New Zealand Infrastructure Commission (Te Waihanga)
  • New Zealand Institute of Architects
  • New Zealand Institute of Building
  • New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors
  • Property Council New Zealand
  • Registered Master Builders
  • Society of Construction Law
  • Specialist Trade Contractors Federation
  • Universities New Zealand
  • Waka Kotahi

Standards New Zealand, the chair and the committee is committed to developing a robust national standard that is fit for purpose for all the sectors involved.

The kick-off meeting will be held at the end of February.

What is NZS 3910 and why is a revision needed?

NZS 3910:2013 Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering construction (NZS 3910) is used as the foundation for the majority of New Zealand contracts in the building, engineering, construction and infrastructure industry sectors (the construction sector).

It is a standard form that contains general conditions of contract for incorporation into building and civil engineering construction contract documents, suited to New Zealand’s industry and legislative environment. It enables principals, consultants, and contractors to quickly establish well understood contractual arrangements to support the delivery of a variety of building and civil engineering projects.

NZS 3910 has not been updated since 2013. This means it has not kept pace with legislative and other changes in the construction sector, resulting in a proliferation of special conditions to the standard form for individual projects.

The revision of NZS 3910 follows the scoping review that was commissioned by the New Zealand Construction Industry Council and led by Standards New Zealand in early 2021 that determined an overwhelming consensus from the construction sector that NZS 3910 required a comprehensive review.

Expected benefits of revising NZS 3910

The purpose of the revision is to make available to the construction sector a revised standard that:

  • is widely accepted and fit for purpose
  • limits the need for special conditions
  • improves understanding of contracts
  • allocates risk fairly
  • results in more contracts that embody Construction Sector Accord principles
  • allows the industry to document contracts quickly and easily (improving productivity) and address common issues.

The Accord - Construction Sector Accord(external link)

Who is commissioning the revision?

The Construction Sector Accord (through Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Hīkina Whakatutuki) and the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, are the joint commissioners and have appointed Standards New Zealand to lead and manage the process for the comprehensive revision of NZS 3910.

The joint commissioners have signed up to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which includes a number of supporting organisations from four sector groups, the Construction Sector Accord (representing the broader construction sector), and a number of organisations representing the client, consultant and contractor sectors.

The following organisations are parties to the MoU:

  • Construction Sector Accord
  • Te Waihanga
  • Property Council New Zealand
  • Auckland Council
  • Department of Corrections
  • Ministry of Education
  • Kāinga Ora
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Health
  • New Zealand Defence Force
  • Civil Contractors New Zealand
  • Registered Master Builders
  • Specialist Trade Contractors Federation
  • New Zealand Construction Industry Council

Some of these organisations will be making direct financial contributions to support the review, while others will be receiving contributions from supporting entities from within the sector. These organisations and supporting entities are acknowledged for their commitment and support for the revision of NZS 3910.

Progress and next steps

1. Scoping report

In July 2020 the New Zealand Construction Industry Council (NZCIC) engaged with Standards New Zealand to discuss the prospect of updating NZS 3910. Standards New Zealand and NZCIC agreed to carry out a scoping review with a wide range of stakeholders. The final outcome of the scoping review is included in the Scoping report dated March 2021 prepared by Standards New Zealand.

Summary of the Scoping report NZS 3910 Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering [PDF, 1.1 MB]

2. Memorandum of Understanding

The Construction Sector Accord and Te Waihanga signed the Memorandum of Understanding to act as joint commissioners for the revision of NZS 3910 on 28 October 2021.

3. Appointment of Standards New Zealand

The joint commissioners appointed Standards New Zealand for the revision of NZS 3910 on 29 October 2021.

4. Next steps

With the committee now formed, representatives will meet and discuss the requirements identified in the scoping document.

Now into development phase two of the timeline below, this is where the first draft will start to take form and is a substantial phase of the revision project.

Make sure you sign up to Keep Me Up To Date for this standard or the building and construction sector in order to be notified when public consultation is available.

Revised timeline and process

Timeline updated December 2022.

SNZ 3910 project timeline [PDF, 224 KB]

1. Initiation phase - November 2021 to February 2022 (Phase completed)

  • Standards New Zealand – Establish committee and identify chair
  • Standards Approval Board – Approval of the committee and chair

2. Development phase - February 2022 to April 2023

The committee:

  • released Special Conditions in September 2022.
  • drafts the full revision of NZS 3910 (February 2022 to April 2023).

Committee meetings:

  • 10  committee meetings have been completed between February and November 2022.
  • Next meetings: 
    • January 2023
    • April 2023

3. Public consultation phase - May 2023 to July 2023

  • NZS 3910 (full revision) – Released for public consultation
  • Committee meets to review comments received during the public consultation period

4. Approvals, including the ballot phase - August 2023

  • Balloting process: the committee votes on the final draft
  • Preparing NZS 3910 for Standards Board approval

5. Publication and project closure phase - October 2023

  • Finalising NZS 3910:202X
  • Publishing NZS 3910:202X on Standards New Zealand website
  • Closing project