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Framing up Building and Construction April 2021

Welcome to our building and construction newsletter. This is the first of our quarterly newsletters focused directly on what is important to you as a sector.

standards framing up building

In the aftershock of an earthquake, standards are born

This year marks the 90th anniversary of one of New Zealand’s most tragic earthquakes. The Napier earthquake devastated the Hawkes Bay region destroying the vast majority of all buildings in central Napier and Hastings. This would not only change the shape of the Hawkes Bay forever, it changed the building industry and so was born Standards New Zealand.

90 years on we honour those who lost their lives by continuing to strive for better building and construction standards that are easier to use and more accessible.

Read more about the foundations of Standards New Zealand(external link).

Help us shape the future of Standards access – NZS3604 has gone digital

The way documents are read, used, and shared is changing. Consumers want information in portable, dynamic, feature-rich digital formats.

Standards New Zealand has been exploring digital options for making our standards more accessible to our users and has launched a 6-month trial of our new Digital Reader – and we want your feedback. The Digital Reader provides a platform that can be accessed on any web-enabled device, including smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.

Some of the benefits compared with the current PDF and hard copy standard available are:

  • Text resizes to fit your screen for ease of reading on any device
  • You can personalise the standard by making notes and highlighting text
  • You can expand and enlarge diagrams and tables
  • The search function is easy to use and navigate
  • Ease of use with a contents page button, which takes you directly to your chosen section of the standard, and back again
  • While a web connection is required, the standard will cache on your device. So, even if your signal drops, you can still access and use the standards.

The pilot includes NZS 3604 and will run until September 2021. Try it out and help us shape the future of standards.

Find out more and access the digital reader pilot.

We want feedback

We want to get feedback from real-time end users of our standards to help us shape the future of standards and their subsequent access. To this end, Ewan Heron our Standards New Zealand Access Account Manager has been out meeting and speaking with stakeholders throughout the building and construction over the past few months to help demonstrate the launch of our Digital Reader pilot.

The feedback has been positive. It has been great to engage with our users and the sector and get their thoughts and comments on the personal usage of standards and ideas for the future. Ewan will be in the regions and the main centres throughout the year but if you wish to discuss setting up your own access to standards, have a question around access or taking part in the digital reader pilot please get in contact.

And for those that love the current formats, don’t worry. The digital formats will supplement, not replace, the PDF and print formats that we have had in place for the last few decades.

MBIE building and construction regulator proposes new standards operating protocols

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment | Hīkina Whakatutuki (MBIE) building and construction regulator is consulting on proposed ‘standards operating protocols‘, the first in a series of operating protocols that are being developed to provide increased transparency and certainty about the activities undertaken as stewards of the Building Code.

These protocols propose around 40 building and construction standards that the regulator believes its efforts are best placed in supporting, as well as information on how standards can be referenced in the Building Code.

Part of MBIE’s role as the building and construction regulator has always been to contribute to the standards development process. Building and construction standards are often referenced in the acceptable solutions and verification methods that support compliance with the Building Code, so it has always made sense that it would be in MBIE’s interest to support the maintenance of these standards.

However, the large number of standards referenced in the Building Code system (around 350) has meant that decisions need to be made about how to maintain them and ensure they remain up to date and fit for purpose.

MBIE will be looking to support the sector to take the lead in maintaining the remaining standards, in conjunction with Standards New Zealand.

The future state MBIE is working towards is one where the building and construction regulator, the building and construction sector, and Standards New Zealand all work together to make sure standards continue to be adequately maintained. These protocols are the first step down that path.

Have your say

Please take the time to have your say on these proposed operating protocols, so MBIE can ensure they get this right. More information on this is available on the Building Code update page.

Building Code update 2021 – Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment | Hīkina Whakatutuki(external link)

Revision of NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings

New Zealand‘s main standard for the design and construction of timber-framed buildings, NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings, is being revised. The standard has a significant influence on houses being constructed in New Zealand, as it is a core resource for designers and building consent authorities determining compliance with the New Zealand Building Code (NZBC). The standard also gives guidance to builders and others involved in the construction of light timber-framed buildings.

The specific areas that this revision project will address are:

  • Facilitating better thermal performance
  • Extending the scope to three full storeys within the standard
  • Foundations on expansive soils and also liquefaction-prone soils
  • Support details for long-span beams and lintels
  • Framing around internal stairwells
  • Isolated internal masonry walls
  • Revising a number of noted corrections and updates
  • Bracing.

We anticipate that the draft standard will be released for public consultation in mid-2022.

Fire standards 4512, 4514, and 4510 update

The Standards New Zealand Approval Board has approved NZS 4512:2021 Fire detection and alarm systems in buildings and NZS 4514:2021 Interconnected smoke alarms for houses. Publication date is scheduled for April/May 2021.

Revision of NZS 4510:202X Fire hydrant systems for buildings is under way.

Committee meeting four will take place on 28 and 29 April. This is the last scheduled meeting prior to public consultation.

NZS4431 Code of practice for earthfill for residential development under revision

The NZS4431 Code of practice for earthfill for residential development is currently under revision. This standard was published in 1989 and it is now outdated. The revision commenced in December 2020.

Review of this standard will result in NZS 4431 being more reflective of modern practice and aligning better with the New Zealand Building Code. Some of the key focus areas for the revision project are to:

  • Review and update citations
  • Revise definitions so they are compatible with modern practice
  • Include more modern testing methodologies for compaction
  • Make updates on the quality of filling material
  • Improve linkages to other standards and guidelines
  • Revise the scope to accommodate buildings up to three storeys, aligning with the revision of NZS 3604 and allowing future housing densification
  • Revise the stability criteria to account for retaining walls
  • Align with current construction procedures to minimise the carbon footprint of earthworks and support future climate change works.

Public consultation for this standard is planned for November 2021.

Publication of NZS 3104:2021 Specification for concrete production

Standards New Zealand is pleased to announce the publication of NZS 3104:2021 Specification for concrete production. Commissioned by Concrete NZ, the objective of this standard is to prescribe the minimum requirements for the production of fresh concrete, and supersedes the 2003 revision of the original 1983 standard.

This revision has been designed to meet an identified industry need and will allow users to follow up-to-date current and recognised good practice methods, and provide a modernised, safer compliance document to provide nationally consistent concrete production.

The principal changes incorporated into this revision are:

  • New provisions have been introduced for the evaluation of compressive strength results for concrete plants that can demonstrate excellent control of their concrete production;
  • Technical control of concrete production has been tightened by introducing mandatory requirements for 7-day strength testing and daily moisture content measurement of fine aggregate. Yield testing has been increased for plants producing more than 9000 m3 per year;
  • Content has been updated to acknowledge the influence of new materials, technologies, and practices such as supplementary cementitious materials, recycled materials, and other standards and technical guidelines.

This revision has been designed to meet an identified industry need and will allow users to follow up to date current and recognised good practice methods, and provide a modernised, safer compliance document to provide nationally consistent concrete production.

Lower target strengths for concrete produced with excellent control may help reduce the cementitious content of concrete in New Zealand.

Get a copy of NZS 3104:2021(external link).

Participate in international standards development

Interested in participating in international standards development work? Standards New Zealand facilitates New Zealand stakeholder participation in international standards development committees through our membership with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and membership of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), through the IEC National Committee of New Zealand.

We are actively recruiting for the following B & C sector related committees:

  • ISO/TC 89 Wood-based panels
  • ISO/TC 89/SC 1 Fibre boards
  • ISO/TC 89/SC 2 Particle Boards
  • ISO/TC 89/SC 3 Plywood
  • ISO/TC 98 Bases for design of structures
  • ISO/TC 98/SC 2 Reliability of structures
  • ISO/TC 98/SC 3 Loads, forces and other actions
  • ISO/TC 165 Timber structures
  • ISO/TC 167 Steel and aluminium structures
  • ISO/TC 218 Timber

Should you be interested in getting actively involved, or have any particular questions, contact us at: or

Standards New Zealand is transitioning to digital solutions and we need your ideas

Not only have we begun investigating the publication of standards in digital formats but we also run a value-add programme (VAP) that is looking for ways to ‘break the book’ using digital formats and tools.

Since the early 1930s, standards have taken the form of books, in both print and, lately, PDF. The PDF versions of standards have been well received and have been considered fit for purpose over the last 20 years – but times are changing and audiences want to work with standards in new, innovative ways made possible by computers and smart phones.

Delivering standards as books will continue but many problems encountered in the application of standards have inspired entrepreneurs to devise different digital approaches, ones that ‘break the book’ by delivering content that is problem specific to real-world practitioners.

If you have an idea for something like that, please let us know!

More information about the VAP.