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Managing buildings using monolithic cladding

4 December 2003

Fact Sheet: Managing buildings using monolithic cladding

What are we doing?

Effective immediately, Auckland City has initiated two changes to the way in which it manages the consent and inspection/compliance processes in buildings where monolithic cladding is used. They are:

- all building consent applications that include the use of monolithic claddings will need to comply with practice notes 13, 13a and 13b. These practice notes were introduced in December 2002 for buildings deemed to be high risk, but have now been extended to include all buildings using monolithic cladding

- all buildings currently being constructed and/or awaiting the completion of the inspection process (including the issuing of a code compliance certificate (CCC)), that uses monolithic cladding will need to comply with practice notes 13, 13a and 13b.

In summary the requirements of practice notes 13, 13a and 13b are:

- that a cavity system is to be used.

- that sealants should not be used as the primary means to prevent water entry

- that mechanical flashings are used rather than sealants around windows and at intersections between adjoining buildings (such as apartments)

- that parapets are capped with a waterproof covering.

Why are we doing this?

The Building Act requires that we make decisions using the most current information that is available at the time the decision is made.

Over the last year, since introducing practice notes 13, 13a and 13b we have been carefully monitoring the information. We have been analysing our own claims, which are still only a very small sample. However, two weeks ago we received data from the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service. This information reinforced our view regarding what was required in terms of structural detail, to ensure code compliance. This has led us to change our requirements for building consent applications.

Sitting alongside this information, is the Kelleway judgement, the first of the WHRS adjudications. This WHRS judgement held that:

- the Council must put in place proper inspection processes at the appropriate stages during the construction of a building so that the inspector is able to ensure compliance with the building code

- the Council must ensure that its officers and inspectors are suitably qualified, experienced and informed of current building standards and practices to enable them to carry out the Council's functions under the Building Act. This includes inspections during the construction of buildings where Council has issued a building consent.

We have also been reviewing international research into the construction of walls and the possible ventilation requirements (both for the build up of water vapour and/or direct water ingress) for enclosed wall spaces where certain cladding materials are used. This information also provides us with doubt about the way in which walls are currently constructed and whether they would be code compliant.

In light of the decision and its implications, we consider that we have no option other than to apply the requirements (that high risk houses have been required to comply with for the last 12 months) to all other buildings, using monolithic cladding systems.

Our actions are our only option if we are to continue discharging our duty, under the Building Act in a prudent and responsible manner.

How will our customers receive this information?

We are still carrying out all inspections and consent application processing as usual. The following outlines the different scenarios in the building, inspection and compliance process that are a result of our decision:

- a building consent is applied for - complies with practice notes 13, 13a and 13b - assuming all other requirements are met, then a building consent is issued

- a building consent is applied for - does not comply with practice notes 13, 13a and 13b. We provide customers with an explanatory letter, requesting the inclusion of the specific technical elements

- building inspection process has begun - builder and owner are advised in writing of the changes to requirements. If there is doubt that the building will not comply they are issued with a notice to rectify or are provided with assistance to apply to the BIA for a determination. A notice to rectify is simply the actions for a particular building that we require in order for the doubt to be removed. If the owner decides to comply with the notice to rectify, then they will need to apply for a variation to their building consent. If the owner wishes to dispute our requirements, then they are entitled to approach the BIA seeking a determination. In this case it is the BIA that decides, based on their judgement

- building is fully completed, but no Code Compliance Certificate has been issued. As we are required to do we inspect the building. If there is doubt that the building will not comply they are advised of this in writing and issued with a notice to rectify. If the owner decides to comply with the notice to rectify, then they will need to apply for a variation to their building consent. If the owner wishes to dispute our requirements, then they are entitled to approach the BIA seeking a determination. In this case it is the BIA that decides, based on their judgement.

What is the solution?

Under the Building Act, 1991, where we have reasonable doubt regarding the code compliance of a building, we are entitled to seek a determination from the Building Industry Authority (BIA). It has the expertise to exercise judgement in those cases that are beyond our level of certainty.

The BIA determination process is well documented on the BIA website (www.bia.govt.nz).

The BIA has three options:

- to consider that we have no grounds for reasonable doubt and hand the application back to Auckland City for processing

- to determine that the specific matters on which we consider doubt exists, is code compliant - in which case Auckland City proceeds with the inspection process

- to determine that the specific matters on which we consider doubt exist was not in fact code compliant and therefore the owner must comply with the notice to rectify that Auckland City has issued.

What are we doing to assist homeowners and expedite the resolution?

In the past determinations by the BIA have taken some months. We have had a number of meetings with the BIA and they have indicated the following actions:

- providing more definitive advice on what the inspection process should cover and how that might be done

- provide a checklist of all the information that will be required

- potentially prepare some key determinations that are more generic in nature and may be applied across a number of building scenario.


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