If I asked you whether you believed the safety of people in buildings was of paramount importance, I’m sure you would say yes; as would I, my whole career is based on this premise. But let’s not forget the relevance of factual backup in reports that suggest otherwise, because, I am also an advocate for truth and clarity, and I’ve seen too many situations where building owners are being ripped off.
It’s important to separate legal compliance requirements versus recommendations.
All too often I hear or read… xyz does not comply, when, in fact, there is no factual basis, but instead, the statement is based on a personal opinion of what a person may consider is best for somebody else.
A couple of examples…
Below are a couple of examples of reports I've seen recently which are, for want of a better expression, absolute hogwash! It greatly concerns me that a person has paid good money for bad advice. Worse than that, they will get suckered into spending hard earned dollars that they do not need to. Rosie alert… Buildings can be old but still function!
Example #1 - The toilets do not comply with NZS 4121 the design for access standard.
No kidding! The building was built in the 1960s before the standard was even written. It would be more useful to document one’s findings in a constructive way. As an example, reference a grab rail that may be incorrectly placed, with a recommendation of replacement and why it is important.
Example #2 - The balustrade is 1000mm high and does not comply with the building code rule of 1100mm.
It’s important to consider the part of the Building Code that is referenced here. If you don’t know, it’s F4/AS1 safety from falling. But it’s just as important to consider the age of the building and reference the same code. Because, in this particular instance, when the balustrade was constructed the Code read 1000mm, so it does comply for its age. (see previous tabel 1 from F4/AS1)
As a building owner or purchaser you should be wary of false statements in -
- Pre purchase reports
- Health and safety inspections
- Fire risk surveys and fire reports by engineers
- Asbestos freak outs
- Building surveys
Any reputed professional who doesn’t know about the history of the building code and historic permit requirements should be very careful about similar statements. They should do their homework and make a very large distinction between what is legally required under building law, versus a recommendation from another regulation or owner risk management preference.
With over twenty years’ experience within the building industry I have a reputation for being a straight shooter and sometimes a little harsh. I’m happy to take that, because I care that my building industry clients get the correct advice and information.
I'd rather they hear it from me, than their local council in the middle of a dispute or a judge in a court of law!
For up to date information on New Zealand building law, stay connected with BuildNet. An online community where you get the support and additional information you need when you need it. The power of having an expert on hand plus the collective wisdom and experience of the other members.
(Previous version of F4/AS1: Second Edition)