Throughout my career I’ve seen the introduction of numerous rules, and most for good reason. However, something that concerns me, is the fact that over the years continued legislation may have discouraged the spirit of creation and I wonder if there's any joy in designing buildings any more.
Are you a designer or architect who thinks outside of the box to keep designs fresh? Perhaps you think of new ways of living or new products that can give rise to grand designs! If you are I applaud you. It's great to push the boundaries of design, but let’s not forget that fundamentally the building still needs to be safe, warm and dry. It needs to be able to breathe and give the occupants the comforts and amenities they need over time. In other words, it needs to comply with rules that are encapsulated within the Building Act and the New Zealand Building Code.
Thankfully one is not exclusive of the other. There is a place for design and a place for technical compliance, but sometimes these competencies do not reside in the same person! Some people identify as left-brain thinkers and their strong logic skills, will have a tendency towards understanding technical aspects, that’s me... Others identify as right-brain thinkers, with creative talents that know no bounds; this includes most architects and designers I’ve met over the years.
Over 20 years I’ve had many conversations with designers and here are 5 things I was surprised by:
1. Many designers do not know that they can still do alternative solutions. Stretching a little outside of comfortable compliance. You need evidence that the product is fit for purpose in its use and new configuration.
2. Some designers have not recognised that Requests for Further Information (RFIs) are a great learning tool. Why not sit down with your last 5 RFIs and see what they have in common? If the level of detail required is not in the plans and specifications and the RFIs keep coming up with the same missing information then there's a training need here that needs to be addressed.
3. Some designers have not grasped the opportunity to upskill in specialist areas to give quality advice to their clients about the feasibility of a project. This is especially relevant when commercial building consents (especially refits and alterations) trigger off expert requirements such as fire reports, accessibility and specified systems, such as sprinkler and HVAC designers. They may also trigger off other parts of the Building Act (CPUs, compliance schedule updates and sometimes change of use).
4. Some do not know that even if a product was approved overseas it is not necessarily fit for purpose in a New Zealand environment or for the NZ building code. It must be verified somehow for New Zealand conditions. Commonly, testing and appraisals can do this and ultimately a Code mark from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, (MBIE). I’m always surprised that thousands of products are used without being Codemarked. Having the right manufacturer’s literature is essential.
5. Some designers are unaware that I can help them bridge the gap between design and compliance. While you may not be a beginner in the building industry you may need to look at your work through a building control lens. The first step is to download my free book. For a greater depth of information I offer customised in-house training or VIP packages, where you have an opportunity to take advantage of my extensive knowledge through my one-to-one mentoring service.