Annual Building Code update underway

In case you missed it, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has begun its 2022 update of the Building Code.  This process is undertaken every year to ensure the Building Code and its ancillary documents are managed effectively and remain relevant with modern construction methods.

This year, the update seems especially important in the context of record housing consents being issued and increased Government commitment to funding trades apprenticeships.

Consultation areas

MBIE has indicated the Building Code’s provisions relating to three particular topics will be consulted on.

As well as recently hosting a webinar on the update, MBIE has prepared consultation documents in respect of each area setting out the proposed changes and the reasons they are being addressed.  We have provided a brief overview of the reasons for each consultation topic below, and some of the proposed changes.

Plumbing and drainage

Of all of the topics, MBIE cited the most reasons for addressing plumbing and drainage.  These included the presence of lead in plumbing products, excessive water temperatures leading to water scalds and the protection of drinking water.

It is proposed these are addressed in a range of ways, including:

  • reducing the allowable lead content for certain plumbing products;
  • reducing the maximum allowable water temperature;
  • providing various ways a plumber may limit this; and
  • limiting drinking water contamination by altering when the flow of water through a pipe may be reversed.

Structural stability

Recent research has indicated that hollow-core flooring, which has been in widespread use in New Zealand since the 1980s, is vulnerable to excessive damage from earthquakes.  This poses a significant safety issue and economic consequences for an owner where the damage is beyond repair.  MBIE proposes a number of ways to address this, including limiting how these are used by removing a compliance pathway that supports the use of hollow-core flooring.

Protection from fire

As housing density and multi-unit properties increase, how fire risk is dealt with must adapt to address fire-risk.  Suggestions to address this include broadening the applicability of fire safety criteria that would require a building to have an independent escape route, set maximum height and number of levels and escape height.  This change has potential to significantly alter the designs of certain types of builds.

There are also proposed updates to smoke and fire alarms, including requiring smoke alarms in all bedrooms of a house to be interconnected to ensure each occupant is woken when smoke is detected.

What does this mean for you?

Any changes made to the Building Code are significant.  These will not only alter the compliance requirements and costs associated with future construction projects, but also have long term safety impacts on the users of any buildings.

Submissions will remain open until 5pm Friday 1 July 2022.  These must be provided in the form given by MBIE, which asks specific questions in relation to each proposed change.  This form can be returned to MBIE via email at or by post to the MBIE offices.

Various documents relating to the update, including consultation documents for each topic and the submission form, are available from MBIE’s website here.

How we can help

If you have any questions about how the updates may affect you moving forward, understanding the particulars of the proposed changes or for assistance with making a submission please do not hesitate to get in touch.  Lane Neave has a dedicated Building and Construction team able to advise on constructions projects from start to finish.

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Helena Scholes

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