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Key Factors for Specifiers When Addressing BCA Requests on Masterspec
We are often asked by specifiers why standards referenced in Masterspec appear to be out of date. Many queries originate from the Building Consent...

Key Factors for Specifiers When Addressing BCA Requests on Masterspec

05 May 2023

We are often asked by specifiers why standards referenced in Masterspec appear to be out of date. Many queries originate from the Building Consent Authority during the processing of a Building Consent application. Any request from the BCA to revise documentation may seem perfectly reasonable at face value, but the specifier needs to be aware of the potential consequences of making changes.

Masterspec template documents typically use acceptable solutions and verifications methods (where appropriate) to demonstrate a compliance pathway with the NZ Building Code. Acceptable solutions and verification methods often cite specific versions of standards as part of this compliance pathway.  From time to time, standards are updated, deleted or replaced by other standards.  However, the reference to the specific cited version of the standard in an acceptable solution or verification method remains until such time as the building code document is amended to cite the newer version of the standard or an alternative standard.

Referring to a version of a standard not cited in the NZ Building Code will effectively break the compliance pathway and would need to be presented as an Alternative Solution. The onus will be on the Specifier to research and verify a new compliance pathway via an alternative solution.

Example: request from a BCA asking why a superseded standard is referenced

The Masterspec section 1233 Referenced Documents states that the latest addition of the standard cited within the specification applies unless stated otherwise.  Therefore if you see a standard listed in a work sections DOCUMENTS clause that includes a date (e.g. AS/NZS 1170.2:2011), this standard is not the current published version, but it is an older version of the standard that is referenced, typically because it is citied within the current version of an acceptable solutions and /or verification method.  

A casual look at website would indicate that the 2021 version of this AS/NZS 1170.2 standard is current.  Immediately below this listing it will identify the 2011 version of this standard as superseded.  This is correct, however you may note that the newer version of the standard does not have a "cited" button, the older version does.  Click on the "cited" button of the older 2011 standard and it will expand out and identify current documents that still reference the older 2011 version of the standard.  This list of documents includes Building Code Compliance Documents such as B1.  This is why the older version of the standard was included in the specification in this case.

Example: recent request from a BCA asking the designer to change the standard specified

“for the Project Specification, please provide revised documentation as the standard NZS4211:2008 has been superseded by SNZ TS 4211:2022. All references to be updated”. 

In this case if the specification was altered as requested by replacing NZS 4211 with SNZ TS 4211, the specifier would be submitting an alternative solution and would need to undertake further research to ensure the products specified match the requirements of the SNZ TS 4211 standard.  The building consent authority would then need to consider this as an alternative solution prior to issuing the consent.

The consenting officer was correct in that NZS 4211:2008 had been superseded by SNZ TS 4211:2022.  However, NZS 4211:2008 is currently referenced in the following acceptable solutions and verification methods (SNZ TS 4211:2022 was not):

  • B1/VM1 - The NZS 4211:2008 Standards cited in this Verification Method provide a means for the design of structures to meet the performance requirements of New Zealand Building Code Clause B1 Structure.
  • E2/VM1 - The scope of this verification method is restricted to buildings that include window and door units that are manufactured to comply with the relevant requirements of NZS 4211:2008
  • E2/AS1 - States that windows and doors shall comply with the requirements of NZS 4211:2008

In this example, once this was explained to the BCA, they accepted this explanation and withdrew the RFI item.

Just  a reminder if you need to clarify your thoughts on an acceptable or alternative solution for your project, all the Masterspec specification work sections include hyperlinks to the relevant Building Codes and Standards in part one of each work section. You can access the building code with these links from the specification. If you also want to check the relevant Standards, if you haven’t already you can add this to your Masterspec subscription to access over 1000 Standards to help you understand and demonstrate the evidence path for your project.