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Minister releases responses to Scarry report

Minister releases responses to Scarry report

Two reports on the structural design and construction of commercial buildings were released by Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel today.

The Institution of Professional Engineers (IPENZ) and Building Industry Authority (BIA) investigated concerns raised by structural engineer John Scarry this year. John Scarry highlighted design and construction deficiencies that could affect the performance of affected buildings in a major earthquake.

Lianne Dalziel said she is comforted that IPENZ has not been made aware of any specific buildings that may pose a significant threat or immediate risk.

“There are, however, clear examples of sloppy practices in the industry, and the performance of certain types of construction are questionable. This report confirms that the building industry must significantly improve its performance, and supports the government’s steps towards achieving this.”

The IPENZ reported an unacceptable variability in standards among engineers, while the BIA identified concerns with some pre-cast flooring systems, slender concrete walls and related details.

Lianne Dalziel outlined a process to address the issues raised in the reports: “The BIA will advise Territorial Authorities and Certifiers of the practices and types of construction to watch for in building consent considerations and undertaking building inspections, with training and monitoring to support this. IPENZ has reminded members of their ethical obligation to alert owners where buildings pose significant or immediate risks; The BIA will coordinate additional research into the types of construction that are of concern, and developing improved construction standards. IPENZ will develop best practice guidelines, facilitate training and strengthen competency assessments of structural engineers; Legislation to significantly strengthen the Building Act and license building practitioners will be introduced to Parliament soon. It will strengthen BIA powers to address concerns, including the ability to ban designs and construction types where these create unacceptable risks. Other changes include higher competency across the construction industry and tougher provisions relating to earthquake prone buildings,” Lianne Dalziel said.

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