Specifiers – Meeting Building Regulation Requirements
All building works has an arena of risk about them, and none so more than the area of weathertightness. This risk is an area that needs to be managed just like all other risks with sound management strategies that lower the risk for all parties involved. Simply put – architects and councils are still being found liable in courts of law despite many problems in their eyes being beyond their control.
To address this issue and add value, Step Up Group companies have partnered with Specifiers, Homeowners and all other stakeholders to provide a full-service building weathertigtness risk management program that provides for enduring and managed buildings now and into the future.
This document aide you to understand your obligations and provide stronger evidence for the need of including proper weathertightness management in your specifications for the benefit of all.
For complete risk management for professionals, this process of weathertightess risk management needs to start right from construction – and this has been supported by many Architects. Many have said due to the assumed lack of statutory requirements for moisture management, there has been a lack of desire from owners and council to include this in their plans due to cost. However the following documentation lays out the statutory obligation for specifiers, and when read together shows an obligation for the use of moisture monitoring of structural timber to ensure structural elements meet their statutory 50 years minimum lifespan.
The key is monitoring the moisture levels of buildings using the Mdu Probe System. This system is now used in over 1500 homes and given protection and peace of mind to many owners and professionals, with over 1 million data collected to date. Owner-friendly services have been created to make moisture monitoring easy and rewarding for the owners. Our database shows that while things are getting better, there are still major problems that get caused – either at construction or by owners that architects are being found liable for.
- Architects are currently, and successfully being sued for residential building weathertightness problems inside the liability longstops
- Architects are found liable for problems that many believe they cannot preventTo illustrate this, the riddle below highlights the problem faced by BCAs and Professionals in regard to carrying out their statutory obligations and responsibilities within the statutory framework with the liability that carrying out these responsibilities can create in the eyes of the legal system.THE RIDDLE OF TWO HOUSES Two identical buildings (A & B) are built by the same builder and assessed by the same council in the same way. Joe Average moves into Building A and does no maintenance to the building. Handy Andy moves into Building B and does regular maintenance. 9 years later both owners get their houses assessed for timber moisture levels, condition, treatment and strength using the Mdu Probe System. Joe’s house (Building A) is rotten and leaky. He successfully sues the Council and all other stakeholders involved in the construction for the cost of a full reclad. Handy Andy’s house (Building B) is in good condition and he sells the house with no problems.
The problem with the above situation is that the liability faced by the stakeholders appeared to be entirely dependent not on their actions (during building consent and inspections), but on the actions of someone else (Joe Average not performing maintenance). This seems hardly fair for them.
- Architects need to be able to better protect themselves from problems ‘beyond their control’ while still operating within their mandated powers
- It can be seen that Councils have the legal right to ask for regular structural timber moisture content inspections
- To meet the acceptable solution for B2 Durability, specifiers have a duty as part of their building consent application to produce a consolidated Maintenance Plan to support B2 compliance
- As part of their Maintenance Plan, Specifiers have a duty to show HOW hidden structural timber in a building will be monitored for its moisture ongoing, and Councils similarly have the DUTY to ensure that it is addressed in the Maintenance Plan.
- The Specifier’s Maintenance Plan should be satisfactorily answer the questions posed by Council relating to regular structural timber moisture testing
- The prescribed system should be effective in assessing structural timber moisture levels and understanding E2 performance
The following documents go into more depth regarding this summarised aspect of how to better manage risk and meet compliance obligations under the building regulations
- Risk Management Strategy – Architects and Designers
- 2011-06-28 NZIA Akld – Weathertightness: managing risk and targeted repairs POWERPOINT (11MB)
THE WAY FORWARD
It has been shown that the Mdu Probe System is the most cost-effective and accurate method to regularly assess the moisture content levels of the structural timber, and can be specified in all timber-framed housing. For more information on specification and installation please contact us