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BIA extreme timber treatment proposal goes too far

BIA’s extreme proposal on timber treatment goes too far.

Higher levels of treated timber should only be required in high risk building situations, not throughout every new house built says the Building Industry Federation (BIF) Chairman Tom Nickels.

The Building Industry Authority (BIA) today announced proposed changes to the building code that would require all framing timber in new homes to be treated to an ‘H1.2’ standard, depending on the outcome of an eight week public consultation process.

Tom Nickels said the proposals would hit homeowners with extra costs and cause serious disruption in the $5 billion forest and timber industries if they are adopted.

“The BIA’s proposal is far too extreme. It represents either an unnecessary double up or a serious lack of faith in the BIA’s other moves to improve the weathertightness of high-risk design, construction and cladding styles that have created the unacceptable problems of leaky buildings,” Mr Nickels said.

BIF believes new home owners could face cost increases of around $5,000 if the proposed change is carried through. Existing homeowners also face possible devaluation of the 230,000 homes built since the 1991 Building Act which permitted the use of high risk design and material combinations under a performance based code.

“There is no justification for the use of unnecessary chemicals when chemical treatment of timber framing is not required in the vast majority of homes. Over 50% of houses built in 2002 were of brick veneer construction using untreated timber. This type of construction has a long and excellent record of performance. Of the 120 million metres of framing timber produced each year, only 14% is used in high risk situations,” Mr Nickels said.

Stephen Jacobi, Chief Executive of the Forest Industries Council (FIC) says the proposed changes will hit forest owners hard, particularly in the South Island with potentially severe consequences for the annual $40 million Douglas Fir market.

“The economic impact report by the NZIER glosses over this, and it defies belief that the BIA would proceed with these proposals in relation to Douglas Fir which is generally considered untreatable to H1.2 levels. If the proposed changes do go through it will hit regional economies particularly hard with the risk of closure of a number of processing operations and the loss of hundreds of jobs,” Mr Jacobi said.

NZBIF and NZFIC will continue to make these concerning facts known to the BIA through the eight week consultation process Mr Nickels said.

“While we clearly need to solve the problems for the less than 1% of homeowners who have experienced the stress and uncertainty of leaky homes, we must also protect the interests of the 99% of those who have experienced no such problems and prevent unnecessary disruption to one of New Zealand’s most significant industries.”

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