On Friday, as rumoured, Building & Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith confirmed there would be changes to the Building Code to tigthen the requirements around steel reinforcing mesh testing.
He says: “We are increasing the number of tests required, clarifying exactly how the tests are done and requiring the tests to be undertaken by internationally accredited testing laboratories.
“The updated Verification Standard and Acceptable Solution will apply to all steel mesh of Grade 500E being sold in New Zealand, whether made locally or imported.
"This will make it absolutely clear to the industry exactly what should be tested and the standard to which that must be done. It will help ensure the product meets our 10% ductility requirements for residential buildings – and gives certainty to the public that the mesh used in new houses is fit-for-purpose.
"There have been problems with suppliers meeting both the old and new standards, and disputes over how they are applied. These new requirements will better ensure consistency and compliance."
Flagging that there will be more changes to come, he adds: "The building industry is booming and this is putting additional pressure on our quality assurance systems. This is one of more than 30 changes we are making to Building Code compliance documents to ensure we get both quality and quantity.”
The steel mesh Verification Method and Acceptable Solution changes are out for consultation until 8 September, and the proposed changes come into effect on 7 October except for the requirement for accredited testing, which is effective from 1 January 2017.
Given there are only two accredited laboratories currently, these new requirements will require additional testing capacity, in which respect Nick Smith says that International Accreditation New Zealand is currently processing additional applications.
The consultation document is available here as a PDF.