On 02 November 2023, MBIE announced updates to the Building Code Clauses relating to Protection from Fire, Plumbing and Drainage and Structure- Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods.
Each of the updates became effective on 02 November 2023. It does not apply to building consent applications submitted prior to 02 November 2023. These updates are mostly subject to a transition period, whereby designers and builders can choose to use either the new documents or the previous version to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code and where building consent applications will be submitted prior to the end of the transition period.
MBIE have published a summary of what has changed, the specific transition periods and included useful links to detailed content as follows:
The Key Changes
Protection from fire
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has amended Acceptable Solutions C/AS1, C/AS2, F7/AS1 and Verification Method C/VM2 to improve the safety of people from fire.
We have cited new versions of standards for the:
- design of sprinkler systems
- fire alarm systems
- interconnected smoke alarms
- smoke control in air-handling systems.
Interconnected smoke alarms
The amended Acceptable Solutions C/AS1 and C/AS2 now cite NZS 4514: 2021 for the installation of interconnected smoke alarms to improve the fire safety in new residential homes.
The transition period for these changes is 12 months, ending on 1 November 2024.
Fire safety system standards
New versions of the standards are already available on Standards New Zealand's website. MBIE sponsors free access to the fire alarm and interconnected smoke alarm standard.
Plumbing and drainage
MBIE has amended the acceptable solutions and verification methods for E1 Surface Water, G12 Water Supplies, and G13 Foul Water. These changes support the provision of plumbing and drainage services which comply with the Building Code and help meet the safety and wellbeing objectives in the Building Act 2004.
These changes are the latest in a series of continuous improvements to ensure the Building Code compliance pathways for the plumbing sector are fit for purpose and up to date. Updates like these ensure New Zealanders have safe and reliable plumbing systems.
Changes to Acceptable Solution G12/AS1 include measures to lower the maximum hot water temperature delivered at the tap for most buildings from 55°C to 50°C and the introduction of additional temperature control devices to give plumbers more ways to limit hot water temperatures. These changes do not apply to the hot water used for kitchen or laundries nor do they apply to the temperature of hot water in the storage tank. The changes apply only to personal hygiene taps and baths in new buildings and new plumbing work. The G12/AS1 update also includes reducing the lead content in plumbing products.
The transition period for these changes is 12 months, ending on 1 November 2024 with the exception of lead in plumbing. This will have an extended transition date until 1 September 2025.
Plumbing and drainage standards
Key to these amendments is the adoption of the latest version of the AS/NZS 3500 plumbing and drainage standards as part of the compliance pathways. MBIE participated in the development of these standards. The new versions of the standards include a number of New Zealand-specific requirements meaning that several of the previous New Zealand Building Code modifications to the standards are no longer required. These standards are cited as compliance pathways in several acceptable solutions.
MBIE has modified the citation of the New Zealand Standard NZS 3101.1: 2006 within B1/VM1 Paragraph 3.1.1. The change deletes Clause 18.104.22.168 of this Standard from the verification method and means that the use of the standard for the design of the supports of hollow-core floors is now considered to be an alternative solution.
This change to B1/VM1 comes into effect on 2 November 2023, with no transition period.
We recommend that specifiers and product partners become familiar with the new requirements outlined under the above NZBC Clauses.
For specifiers, this means getting an in depth understanding of the evidence pathway required to display compliance with the Building Code and liaising with key specialist consultants on the impact of the changes.
For product partners, this may require the development or procurement of alternative products or systems to meet the new requirements. In addition, this may need to be supported by updated product information, test data and supporting documentation such as CodeMark/ Appraisals and updates to existing Masterspec sections.
For Masterspec, over the next few months we will be incorporating the updated general high-level requirements into non-branded and branded product partner sections. Further detailed product changes to branded sections will then be incorporated in consultation with product partners and prioritised as the information is received.