PLEASE FOLLOW THE BELOW LINK FOR ALL INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19
COVID-19 Back to Work Mental Health Protocols
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MEMBER UPDATE 23 3 2020
BOINZ STAFF TO WORK REMOTELY EFFECTIVE WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH
This afternoon the Prime Minister announced the country would move to "Level 3" in the Covid-19 alert scale and within 48 hours we as a country will move to "Level 4" for a period of at least 4 weeks.
The Institute places great value on the well being of its staff, members and the community. Following the Prime Minister's announcement, the Institute made the decision for all staff to deliver its services remotely in the foreseeable future. This will take effect from Wednesday 25th March.
Our goal is to continue to connect with our member community to ensure your ability to operate professionally in terms of skills and with relevant information. We have delivered several services remotely and we will look to expand on these to keep you engaged.
A quick way for you to engage with BOINZ is to download the "BOINZ app" which can be accessed via a search for "BOINZ" in either the Android Play Store or Apple App Store on your phone or computer. Alternately you can go to the BOINZ website and click on the homepage banner to "Download the new BOINZ member app".
Contacting BOINZ staff should still be straight forward as landlines have been diverted to their mobile phones.
We will continue to keep you informed over the next 4 or so weeks.
In the meantime, keep safe and healthy.
Nicholas (Nick) W. Hill
RE: BOINZ RESPONSE TO COVID-19
As the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic continues to impact the global community and in light of the recent government announcements to protect the New Zealand community, your Institute has taken the following steps for the protection of members, their families, and the public:
• Branch meetings will be cancelled until 30th June at which time a re-evaluation will take place
• Training Face to Face events, given the small numbers involved will continue based on registration numbers. Some events will be postponed till a later date. We will also be looking at alternate delivery options.
• Conference 2020 will be postponed. We are working with our suppliers to hold this event later in the year, if appropriate dates can be put in place.
• AGM 2020 - The advertised date of Monday 18th May is postponed. The constitution requires our AGM to be held within 18 months of the previous AGM. This would be on or before 20th November 2020. Should we not be able to hold this General Meeting adjacent or within one of our national events (Conference or SBCO) we will look at providing an alternate mechanism for participation.
• Board Election/Remits - These will go ahead as planned given the process is and can be conducted via an electronic process
• Staff/Board Travel - Only as necessary
I am sure that you will appreciate the impact on your association will be significant in terms of how we operate, communicate, and engage. It is in such testing times that we all need to think and participate laterally. As such, we as an organisation, will be looking to do things a little differently, to ensure both the value and sustainability of the Institute endures. I would encourage both your patience and commitment as we create different pathways of interaction. Part of the success of organisations like ours in different and difficult times is member input. Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts you may have.
In the meantime, please keep safe and healthy.
We will provide updates as the situation evolves.
Building Officials Institute of New Zealand
1 May 2020
Message from Building and Construction Minister, Hon Jenny Salesa
I am pleased to hear about the swift and efficient return to work this week for most workers and businesses in the construction sector. Restarting work in our sector has been ably assisted and made possible thanks to the joint work of the Construction Accord team consisting of Government and industry leaders, particularly CHASNZ, who developed new safety standards to help keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. These were produced quickly and communicated to the sector early to ensure the industry could restart safely and without delay. They are a testament to the value of the Construction Sector Accord as a leadership platform for collaboration, action and solutions.
Support for the sector
The Government recognises the construction sector has an important role to play in New Zealand's economic comeback from these difficult times. We're listening to what the Accord COVID-19 Forum is telling us about the reality of our industry and life on site, and we are taking action wherever we can. As Ministers, we have directed departments and agencies to follow the Government's new procurement guidelines to 'do the right thing' by contractors and help keep cash flowing in the sector.
I am hearing how this approach is already easing the pressure on hundreds of firms. In one example, the New Zealand Defence Force has released half a million dollars in retentions to a main contractor (LT McGuiness) early, which will in turn be passed on to approximately 150 subcontractors. Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities, is also releasing retentions early, and making daily payment runs to ensure people are paid promptly. The Ministry of Education is also releasing $23 million in retentions early, covering projects at 237 schools across the country.
The Finance Minister and Revenue Minister have today announced the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme to provide assistance of up to $100,000 to firms employing 50 or fewer full time equivalent employees. Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within a year.
Maintaining the pipeline
Our Government knows how important a stable and certain pipeline of work is to the sector, especially now, for business confidence. Ministers have been working with the Accord, the Infrastructure Commission and Crown Infrastructure Partners to identify what planned government construction projects can be bought forward, and Cabinet hopes to make a decision on which projects will be supported in May. We are also working with the Accord and our agencies on what we can do to maintain confidence in the pipeline for the residential sector, which is the sector that employs the largest workforce.
A fellow Accord Minister, the Minister of Education Hon Chris Hipkins, has just announced that we are bringing forward a large part of our school property upgrade programme to further help cash flowing through the industry. We've allocated $160 million to hundreds of small or remote schools to make improvements in areas such as lighting, roofing and insulation. This initiative will help reboot regional economies and create and support jobs for local tradespeople and businesses.
I hope everyone in the industry who can is using the business and wage support the government has made available. These measures include the Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Leave Support Scheme which is now available to non-essential businesses, and various tax relief measures to support cash flow in businesses.
Accord Ministers are continuing to work with the Accord Covid-19 Response Forum on other measures to support the sector, and we have been regularly attending these forum meetings to hear from industry directly. Thank you for your support of the Accord and for your patience and hard work as we all work to emerge from COVID-19 as a strong and high performing construction sector.
I am glad industry and Government have continued to work together over the last 2 and a half years to build this Accord and ensure industry has a seat at the table. Your voice is more important than ever.
Thank you for all that you do in our sector - we are in this together.
Hon Jenny Salesa
Minister for Building and Construction
New webpage for COVID-19 information for the sector
You can now find quick links to a range of COVID-19-related information relevant to the construction sector on the Accord website. The 'Guidelines,information and practice' page contains a collection of links to important websites, guidance documents, good practice examples and other tools to help us navigate work in the COVID-19 environment.
BRANZ checklist for returning to building sites
Accord partner BRANZ have published a useful checklist for assessing the condition of construction sites that have been left exposed during the lockdown, and planning for any remediation work. They have also shared guidance on exposure limits to different building materials.
You can also download a pdf of their full guidance document - Guidance for returning to building sites at Alert Level 3.
Accord focus this week
This week's focus for the Accord COVID-19 response team is to:
- Develop and share more procurement guidance including:
- advice on the fair allocation of extra costs caused by the Covid-19 shutdown, supported by a set of principles for agencies to work by when sitting down with contractors to negotiate the cost of variations
- advice on the fair risk allocation for COVID-19-related disruptions in new contracts
- Assist Crown Infrastructure Partners and the Infrastructure Commission to identify the pipeline of crown infrastructure projects that can be bought forward into the next year. More than 2,000 projects have been put forward for consideration.
- Identify models to rapidly mobilise projects during the recovery phase including opportunities to streamline processes including consenting, governance, funding approval and procurement.
- Find ways to help ensure consumer confidence in the residential building sector remains high post COVID-19
- Work with local government to ensure the Construction Sector COVID-19 Response Plan is aligned with council needs.
We'll continue to update you on further actions and decisions in the Accord's COVID-19 Construction Sector Response Plan as they develop.
BRANZ ISSUES GUIDELINES ABOUT RETURNING TO BUILDING SITES AT LEVEL 3
Welcome to this special issue of Guideline with advice for the building and construction industry about returning to worksites after the COVID-19 lockdown. Download as a PDF.
With the move from COVID-19 Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3, builders and others are able to return to worksites. New protocols for keeping people safe on construction sites have been released - the Residential Construction Protocols andVertical and Horizontal Protocols (for commercial and civil construction). It is vital that contractors, subbies and everyone who is permitted on and around sites understands and works to these new protocols.
In this issue, BRANZ provides guidance on building materials that have been exposed to the weather. Some materials may have been damaged or exceeded their exposure limits, affecting building consents, Building Code compliance and product warranties. Document the decisions and actions taken so your BCA can verify them for Code compliance.
Before returning to site
Make a complete list of the materials left exposed, then find exposure limits for each of them. You can find these in:
• building consent documents
• manufacturers' literature
• product warranties
• product Appraisals (for those with an Appraisal).
Identify which materials may have exceeded their limits. Contact the manufacturer, BCA or designer to check if a material:
• needs to be checked or tested
• should be replaced
• can be repaired or remedied
• can have its exposure limit extended given the weather conditions - if a manufacturer advises this, get it in writing.
Returning to site
• Identify whether any materials are damaged.
• Where you can't verify exposure limits or they are due to expire, protect the materials until they can be checked or the building closed in. Keep note of what you have done and take (and save) photographs.
• Any replacement materials must be as specified in the consent documents. Materials cannot be substituted without approval of the designer and BCA, and a consent variation may be required.
• Check and record moisture levels. Timber framing must be within permitted moisture levels before installing linings and claddings. Check manufacturers' literature and the figures in NZS 3602:2003 Timber and wood-based products for use in building. and wood-based products for use in building.
• Check excavations for soft spots from water ponding.
• Ensure ready-to-pour foundations are clear of debris and there is no water on the damp-proof membrane.
• In exposed coastal areas, clean off salt build-up, especially from metals.
• Work out how you would protect materials if there was a return to Alert Level 4.
Guidance on exposure limits
This is a general guide only. Read manufacturers' technical documents (and BRANZ Appraisals) and follow the instructions. In some harsh environments - for example, where extensive salt spray is carried in the air and deposited on surfaces - exposure times may be reduced.
Wall and roof building underlays: Wall - 30-60 days. Roof - around 7 days. Wall and roof underlays must retain at least 85% of their mechanical strength after UV exposure (NZS 2295:2006 Pliable, permeable building underlays).
Rigid wall underlays: Check exposure limits in manufacturers' technical literature. Acceptable moisture levels are essential before being sealed or encapsulated in walls.
Timber framing: Timber framing must be dried to moisture content levels in (NZS 2295:2006 Pliable, permeable building underlays and wood-based products for use in building.
Kiln-dried timber should be kept dry. If it gets wet, let it dry thoroughly.
With H1.2 boron-treated framing exposed for over 3 months, verify that the treatment level is still adequate to satisfy NZS 3640:2003 Chemical preservation of round and sawn timber.
Enclose framing as soon as practicable and keep floors under framing free of ponding water.
Particleboard and other reconstituted wood board (RWB) sheets: Some manufacturers say 2 months "but preferably keep to a minimum". Others say "must not come into direct or prolonged contact with water". Some products have protective coatings but others may not. Sheets may swell irreversibly and the surface roughen with moisture.
Engineered wood products (EWPs): Engineered wood products such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL), parallel-laminated timber (PLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam) should have manufacturer-recommended procedures. These materials should be kept dry. EWPs need to be dried to acceptable moisture content levels before being sealed or encapsulated in walls, roofs or floors.
Plywood: Bracing sheets/membrane substrates - 3 months (preferably less). Membrane substrates should be protected from rain. They must be dry when the membrane is applied. Wall claddings should be coated immediately after installation to avoid staining, fading or wetting.
Steel reinforcing bars: Light rust is not a cause for concern. Do not use steel with pitting and extensive scaling unless it has been checked for strength and cross-sectional area limitations. If it meets these requirements, remove corrosion products (particularly loose products) before use. It is better not to use reinforcing bars with extensive surface corrosion and to replace with new.
Fibre-cement claddings: Fibre-cement sheets - 90 days. Fibre-cement weatherboards - keep dry until coated.
Metal sheet claddings: Check claddings have not been wet for extensive periods. Permanent surface staining might not be visually acceptable.
Fixings: NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings, mild steel structural fixings can be used in closed spaces in timber-framed buildings. Check their conditions (head areas) in spaces not closed or protected during lockdown. Replace corroded fixings with new.
Joints and connections: For assembled components like frames, consider the joints and connections that can gather moisture. Ensure the timber or EWPs are within acceptable moisture content limits according to NZS 3602:2003 before sealing them in a wall system.
Flashing tape: 30-90 days (some products allow up to 180 days).
SHOULD COUNCILS SPEED UP CONSENTS - OR RE-THINK?
Planners and politicians say councils should speed up consents, but a post-Covid environment may force the country to go beyond its focus on cutting red tape
With most of the construction sector returning to work next week, planners and politicians are asking councils to push consents through quickly to allow large-scale construction projects to take-off once lockdown levels lift.
Environment Minister David Parker sent a letter to every council during the first two weeks of lockdown and pre-emptively asked them to clear a backlog of resource consents to help stimulate an economic recovery.
"Control over planning and consenting functions rests almost entirely with councils. These functions have essential service status because of the crucial role they play in the operation of the economy," Parker wrote.
"I urge you to address any consenting backlogs you have, so projects that employ people are not unnecessarily delayed once the Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed," he said.
Last week, it was the turn of Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones. He slammed the country's resource consenting processes during a business webinar and said he wanted to give Crown agencies like the NZTA the ability to self-consent smaller projects.
"One of the first things I approved [when I was elected]...was a $9m roundabout 500 metres from my whare," Jones said.
"Of course I got blasted for looking after myself. Well I can assure you nothing has happened," he said.
"If we can't get a $9m roundabout built in two and a half years then I'm deeply concerned for the prospects of the infrastructure sector."
University of Waikato Professor of Environmental Planning Iain White has a different take. He thinks the country will emerge into a depressed economic environment post-Covid19 where the priorities of planners will have to be different.
"If I asked you what the most pressing planning problems in New Zealand are today, would you say consents?" White said.
"We've spent the last few years in New Zealand talking about speed, efficiency, red tape and consents," he said.
"We need to have a new conversation that's about economic recovery and using planning as part of a positive recovery for places."
New Zealand Planning Institute Chief Executive David Curtis said IT systems separated the councils who consented projects under lockdown from the ones that didn't.
He said some council computer systems were better able to cope with a large number of employees working from home than others.
Building Officials Institute of New Zealand Chief Executive Nick Hill said the ability of councils to use technology had also been a critical factor in their ability to process building consents under lockdown.
Building inspectors hadn't been able to conduct on-site inspections under lockdown, but some councils used a new piece of software called 'Artisan' which allowed for virtual inspections.
Curtis said another factor was the willingness of councils to move towards a "trust model" for some parts of the consenting process under lockdown.
He said pre-lockdown Auckland Council processed 64 percent of its incoming resource consents on time. During lockdown that figure rose to 68 percent, but that was still short of the council's processing target of 80 percent.
Curtis said that processing figure could have been higher under lockdown if the council had continued to lean on external agencies to help with its consenting workload.
For their part, local councils have urged people applying for consents to respond quickly to requests for information under lockdown.
Local Government New Zealand President Dave Cull said council consenting services had been affected by the lockdown, but many had been working to clear planning and building consent applications "so that when the opportunity arises, projects around the country can get going".
Planning when we're not growing
White said for many years the country's planning priorities had the assumption of growth built-in, but it would now have to deal with a nationwide economic depression.
"In New Zealand it's always about red tape and consents and speed. It's not anymore," White said.
He said the economy would have to grapple with recessionary issues like "regeneration". That would be less about removing red tape and more about using planning to regenerate economically depressed towns and cities.
"We've never had to plan for recession or regeneration in New Zealand," White said "whereas in the UK a lot of what planning is is regeneration. There are a lot of lessons we can learn from abroad about regenerating local areas," he said.
And some consent applications filed before lockdown probably wouldn't be needed anymore, he said.
"Do we need more office space if we're going to have a lot of businesses closing down?" .
Planners would have to think much more broadly about how to restore the economic confidence of people in different regions and cities so that people were willing to spend and invest again.
Curtis accepted some projects in the consenting queue would no longer be viable in a post-Covid world. He said those would naturally fall off as people decided not to go ahead.
"I'm very interested to see to what degree we've been through a paradigm shift with lockdown," Curtis said.
Significant societal shifts had taken place. People were more comfortable with technology and had gone a month without a commute.
Some might never return to commuting and choose to work from home instead. Having more things available in the local neighborhood might then become more important, he said.
"We've seen how empty the motorways are when everyone is working from home," Curtis said.
"Obviously that will change, but does it need to go back to the congestion it was?" he said.
"Or can we take advantage of some of the benefits technology offers to reduce that load on infrastructure?"
CONSTRUCTION SECTOR APPEALS FOR GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL BACKING
Most in the sector are back on site today under alert level 3; some are on the tools and others trying to work out how they can do so safely.
But there are fears the pipeline of jobs might dry up.
Skookum Construction director Cameron Horne welcomed returning to work on a renovation job in Auckland's Herne Bay.
"It's good to be back at work and earning money again, but [it was] pretty valuable time to spend with the family too."
He said the work environment is a little bit different to when they left.
"We try to do the distancing thing, we're having to wear masks and gloves and wash our hands regularly, and sign-in/sign-out boards. You can no longer leave site and come back. So home made lunches, stay healthy."
Horne said while they have managed to pick up this job where they left off, the future's not so clear.
"A lot of people are a little bit hesitant to commit at the moment with the financial situation and also with their jobs," he said.
"We've had our next jobs basically put on hold - we don't have a job to go to after this unfortunately. A bit of a waiting game, I guess."
It's something a lot of the industry is grappling with - to what extent the scale of the economic downturn will hit different areas of the sector.
Construction Industry Council chair David Kelly, who is also chief executive of the Registered Master Builders Association, said how many future projects will come through the pipeline was unknown.
"The big issues are the forward work programme. [I'm] not hearing a lot of drop offs for confirmed clients who had already completed design. It's really those future clients, that's where the big focus will turn to over the next few weeks," Kelly said.
One large company - Naylor Love - has already had a commercial client press pause, and was worried another might do the same.
Chief executive Rick Herd said while the government is able to fund and fast track public sector jobs like schools, hospitals and roads, the private sector doesn't have the same security of funding.
He worried about job losses at scale if there isn't financial stimulus for private construction from the government.
"It's certainly a possibility if there's no means to effectively stimulate private sector investment," Herd said.
"We need to see some positive action in the next two or three weeks or month to see what actually [the government is] going to do to stimulate that private sector investment."
Kelly said the next 12 to 18 months will be critical, as an industry with half a million people directly and indirectly employed watches on.Article Supplied by Jordan Bond at RNZ
COVID-19: CONSTRUCTION SECTOR ACCORD UPDATE
21 April 2020
In this update you'll hear from the Accord Transformation Director as we look to move out of lockdown, and you can find information on what Alert Level 3 means for the sector. More procurement advice has been released this week, there's a new business support package from government, and we talk about how MATES in Construction is supporting mental health. We'll also update you on what we're focused on now in the Construction Sector COVID-19 Response Plan.
Message from Dean Kimpton - Accord Transformation Director
Next Tuesday 28 April, much of our sector will be able to get back to work, even if it's not work as usual. At Alert Level 3, the government has said the focus for allowable activities has moved from 'essential', to 'safe'. As a significant sector to New Zealand's economy, we have a leadership role across all activities as well as construction sites and workplaces to ensure safety and minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 for the workforce and the public. The new safety protocols for the industry were released last week to help businesses better prepare. More information on the protocols and links are provided in this newsletter.
Last week the government also announced a new support package for businesses. The tax loss carry-back scheme will help some of our small and medium operators by helping with cash flow, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of the free business consultancy support offered. We are continuing to work with government on other support options for businesses.
The Construction Sector Accord COVID-19 response group continue to meet every week. Our numbers have grown beyond the ASG governance group so we often have up to 40 sector leaders from across the sector 'around the table'. Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa, Economic Development and Urban Development Minster Phil Twyford, and Housing Minister Megan Woods have also attended meetings and taken part in discussions on ways to support the sector. They, along with other Ministers, will continue to join us to provide direct dialogue and input into our work.
We've achieved a huge amount, but we've still got a lot to deliver in line with our COVID 19 Response Plan. Our objective remains simple - to support New Zealand's COVID-19 recovery by maintaining a strong building and construction sector that balances the health of our people with the future of our sector.
Lastly, we can take great confidence in what we are achieving. The leadership shown through the Construction Accord group is immense, well-noticed and highly regarded. It really is a unique combination of executives from industry, government agencies, peak body associations, and Ministers. As a trusted source of advice, we have become a 'go to' group on behalf of the total sector. So a huge thank you and yes let's keep going!
He waka noa
Dean Kimpton, Accord Transformation Director
Working at Alert Level 3
Last week the government announced what types of activities and businesses will be able to operate under Alert Level 3. The Accord team has worked with government on what this, and the lower alert levels, will mean for the construction sector.
From 28 April, construction sites and most other construction-related businesses can get back to work, provided health and safety measures are in place. There is no requirement to register your plan, but you must have one in place and share it with your staff.
One of the safety measures is physical distancing - which means keeping at least one metre between workers on construction sites. Where tradespeople are working in other people's homes or workplaces, they must stay at least two metres away from people at the location.
Builders and tradespeople will now be able to get materials from suppliers and retail outlets, but these premises must have health and safety and physical distancing measures in place.
Building and construction site inspections can now take place, but councils are encouraged to make use of technology to carry out remote inspections where possible.
Businesses and workers are also allowed to travel to neighbouring regions to work, for example between Auckland and Northland, or Nelson and Marlborough, but cannot travel further afield.
More business support offered by government
Last week government announced an additional package of support measures focused on tax relief for businesses. Together with the existing support provided through the wage subsidy scheme, these new actions should help with cashflow and maintaining solvency, particularly for our small and medium businesses. The Construction Accord continues to advise on business support that could be given to support our sector.
The new measures include:
- A tax loss carry-back scheme where you can be refunded tax you paid last year if you're projecting a loss this year
- Free business consultancy support
- Greater flexibility in meeting tax obligations
To help you understand these measures and get further business support, you can contact the Regional Business Partner Network, the Employers and Manufacturers Association and the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce.
This is a stressful time for everyone. Although the shift to Alert Level 3 will allow most of us to get back to work, some workers have lost their jobs, businesses will be struggling and there is uncertainty for everyone about what the future holds. We need to pay close attention to our mental health and that of our staff and workmates. Accord partner MATES in Construction offers several services and there are many other resources available to help.
New guidance for government agencies working with construction suppliers
One of the Accord objectives is to facilitate the sharing of good practice. Auckland Transport (AT) recently wrote to all their construction suppliers explaining the impact of the shutdown on their construction projects, including on contract management, and their expectations of suppliers. AT Group Manager of Procurement Andy Richards says the letter was designed to maintain positive partnerships during the COVID-19 disruption.
"It's important for us all to work together at this time and have a clear understanding of what's expected of each other. We want constructive and open engagement with our suppliers so we can ensure a swift and smooth return to BAU."
The AT letter and guidelines, developed in conjunction with Auckland Council, have been adapted by the Accord for wider use across all government agencies and their construction suppliers. It includes information and expectations on essential services, procurement, contracts and business continuity plans during the COVID-19 disruption.
Finding seasonal or temporary staff
Ministry of Social Development recently launched the 'Work the Seasons' website which connects employers with jobseekers, and has been expanded to include construction roles. If you are looking for seasonal or temporary staff, this website may be able to help you.
Accord focus this week
This week's focus for the Accord COVID-19 response team is to:
- develop more procurement guidance including a set of principles for agencies to work by when negotiating the cost of variations due to the shutdown
- develop advice for the sector on fair risk allocation for COVID-19-related disruptions in new contracts
- assist Crown Infrastructure Partners and the Infrastructure Commission to identify the pipeline of crown infrastructure projects that can be bought forward into the next six months
- identify models to rapidly mobilise projects during the recovery phase including opportunities to streamline processes including consenting, governance, funding approval and procurement
- contribute to further advice to government on additional support needed for commercial landlords and tenants
- find ways to help ensure consumer confidence in the residential building sector remains high post COVID-19, and
- work with local government to ensure the Construction Sector COVID-19 Response Plan is aligned with council needs.
We'll continue to update you on further actions and decisions in the Accord's COVID-19 Construction Sector Response Plan plan as they made.
He waka noa
COVID 19 LEVEL 3 - WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR?
Prime minister Jacinda Arden announces NZ can move out of lockdown alert level 4 at 11.59pm on Monday 27th April.
CONSTRUCTION SECTOR ACCORD UPDATE
COVID-19: NEW HEALTH AND SAFETY STANDARDS
16 April 2020
Health and safety standards
New industry health and safety standards and protocols for operating under COVID-19 alert levels have been developed and are now available to the sector.
While New Zealand remains at Alert Level 4, the Government this afternoon has released more information on what Alert Level 3 will look like. We now have a clearer picture of what types of businesses will be able to operate at a different alert level.
The Prime Minister will make a further announcement on Monday 20 April about when a move to a different alert level might occur.
While construction businesses will be able to get back to work when we move to Alert Level 3, there are a number of important health measures businesses will need to take to keep workers safe.
As we prepare to return to work, a key focus for the Construction Sector COVID-19 Response Plan is the development of new health and safety standards for the industry. Safety is the main criteria the government has used to decide what types of businesses can start operating at Alert Level 3.
Consistent health and safety standards are essential to both protect workers and stop the spread of COVID-19, and to give people confidence that it is safe to return to work.
Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ), our peak health and safety body and a member of the Construction Sector Accord, developed the industry standards in collaboration with government agencies, WorkSafe, Construction Sector Accord member groups and client organisations.
The standards lay out the key principles and requirements for healthy and safe construction-related operations under COVID-19 Alert Levels 2 and 3.
Two sets of protocols, for the residential sector and the civil and vertical sectors, have been developed to guide the industry in how to implement the standards. The development of the protocols was led by SiteSafe, Civil Contractors New Zealand, Vertical Construction Leaders Group, and other leaders from the residential sector. These organisations in turn, consulted with field experts in the industry.
The protocols include guidance for businesses on creating a 'COVID-19 control plan' including protocols around physical distancing, hygiene, site entry and exit, deliveries, and visitor protocols.
It's very important for contractors, subbies and everyone who is permitted on and around sites to understand and work to these new protocols.
The standards represent current best practice, and the expectation is all construction sector businesses and workers will apply them, and do the right thing. The sooner we can stamp out COVID-19 in New Zealand, the sooner our businesses can thrive again. A return to Alert Level 4 will have even more serious consequences for our businesses, jobs and economy.
It's worth noting that clients, particularly in the civil, vertical and large residential sectors, have a significant role to play in ensuring their principal contractors meet the standards and follow the protocols.
The protocols are a 'living document' and will be updated as best practice develops and we receive further industry feedback. More information on where to get help with the protocols and how to provide feedback can be found on the CHASNZ website.
This work is part of the Accord's Construction Sector COVID-19 Response Plan. We'll continue to update you on further actions and decisions in the plan as they made.
He waka eke noa
The Construction Sector Accord Team
COVID-19 STANDARD FOR NEW ZEALAND CONSTRUCTION OPERATIONS AVAILABLE15.04.2020
Building and construction sector framework for health and safety under COVID-19 conditions:
The construction industry is working collaboratively across government, Construction Sector Accord member groups and client organisations to develop safe work processes for all who work in and around the construction sector while under COVID-19 alert levels.
This work is being led by dedicated teams of professionals working very hard and coordinated by Site Safe, Vertical Leaders, Residential Leaders, Civil Contractors and many others. The CHASNZ board thanks these individuals and their organisations for their leadership, hard work and professional experience during these times.
For businesses to operate under COVID-19 alert levels they will, at a minimum, have to be able to implement good health and safety processes, including physical distancing, hygiene and tracking of persons that address risks posed by COVID-19. To provide support for the sector the industry advisory groups have developed a set of standards, principles and protocols that cover how our businesses and employees operate safely. This guidance is being developed and tested with cross sector industry panels including government.
Builders and other tradespeople are beginning to see clients backing out of contracts as they become concerned for their own financial futures.
Mike Craig of Mike Craig Builders in Kapiti, said about half his upcoming work had been put on hold.
"I think the main reason is people's nervousness about going forward, about their jobs, and of course some of them have got to sell their houses."
Residential construction is a notoriously cyclical industry with big booms and busts.
Infrastructure New Zealand has warned that nearly one-third of construction staff may be laid off in the next three months, and firms providing advisory and other support services might be in the same situation within six months.
However, Hayden McCaw, a plumber in Whangarei with five staff, was optimistic that word of mouth and community connections would keep his company in work after the lockdown lifts.
As essential workers, plumbers were still on call. He was going to the jobs himself so that if he felt at risk, he would not feel under pressure to complete the job.
His staff were a tight crew. "They wouldn't care if we came back and we painted houses, just so we could stick together."
Peter McMenamin, managing director of architecture and design management firm buildBIM, was not as optimistic.
Most of his 26 staff were able to work from home but the outlook for the building sector was extremely hard to predict.
"The builders I've talked to have pretty much gone into hibernation, those kind of small to mid-sized guys. And they've actually all paid their bills, that's what struck me."
Before the lockdown, the industry had been gearing up for expansion because the Auckland property market was showing signs of growth after going flat for two years, rather than falling as expected.
Fortunately, McMenanim said, his firm mostly worked on subdivisions or for commercial clients, and it had about five to six months worth of work in the pipeline.
However, he had had to lay off three staff in Chile after work dried up, and the team in New Zealand had gone down to four days a week.
"Our objective is to hold onto cash and hold onto our best people so we can ride through whatever comes," he said.
Developers he knew were taking a long-term view, and they would probably be able to get builders cheaper than before.
But "obviously a lot of construction comes from land being sold and if people don't want to buy land, then they're less likely to build".
"So the big firms might ride it out with big contracts but the smaller firms will probably struggle if residential struggles."
Certified Builders chief executive Grant Florence did not think the loss of work was widespread just yet.
"From the perspective of the small builder who I represent, I think they're looking forward to lockdown being lifted. They have strong order books so they're anxious to be getting back to it.
"In most cases where there has been a contract in place, there's been a long lead-up of up to two years' ahead of time."
As to what the post-lockdown building sector should look like, the jury was out, buildBIM's McMenamin said
"You really don't know. This could be a massive driver for New Zealanders to come back to New Zealand and we've got a lot of Kiwis offshore. They probably all have reasonable money and they probably all want to live in reasonably nice suburbs. Who knows?"
But if property values took a deep dive, "it's not going to give the people trying to sell houses [confidence] and people aren't going to build on that basis."
Mike Craig suggested the Government could keep builders in work by bringing in a special consenting service to fast-track the resource management process.
Another idea might be underwriting houses built on spec, he said. If the houses did not sell, the Government could use them as state houses, a feat that Kiwibuild had tried to do but not really been set up for that process.
"Land is the other thing. We need the Government to become a little bit of a land developer."
The impact on the building industry would be huge, Craig said, and he hoped the Government would look more broadly at measures such as reducing GST and supporting youth employment.
"It's all about confidence, if you can get the confidence back, and I don't think throwing money at people is the way to do it."
CORONAVIRUS: HALF-BUILT HOMES AND BUSINESSES 'NO LEAKY HOMES CRISIS WAITING TO HAPPEN'
All those half-finished homes and buildings left temporarily abandoned due to the Coronavirus lockdown are no "leaky buildings"-style ticking timebomb.
That's the word from industry leaders as the midway point for the lockdown passes and the multitude of building sites in Hamilton's northern suburbs, normally bustling hives of activity, all sit empty.
Hamilton City Council building unit manager Cory Lang reckoned there was little chance one of the long term consequences of the lockdown would be the manifestation of issues with houses and businesses similar to those seen the leaky buildings crisis.
The simple reason was that the crisis was caused by "performance-based" issues related to poorly-constructed cladding, framings and flashing - the builders not doing their job properly.
By comparison, the current four-week exposure to the elements only raises the question of whether the timber framings and other construction materials are durable enough to weather a month of sun, wind and rain without incurring any warping or other kind of deterioration.
And the answer to that question is an emphatic yes.
The leaky homes saga was a long-lasting nightmare for New Zealand's home-owners that is yet to fully dissipate. It involved primarily timber framed buildings constructed between 1994 to 2004 that began to decay as a result of inferior cladding and, in many cases, poor workmanship. Moisture seeped in, mould and spores grew, and in some cases the buildings became so structurally unsound they had to be demolished.
The overall cost for replacing and repairing the damage has been estimated to be about $11.3 billion.
The driver of the leaky homes saga was that once the moisture got in, it stayed in, said Lang. If it rained on the partially-completed and exposed homes in Hamilton, that moisture would evaporate without causing any lasting damage
One of the few elements of a half-constructed house that could deteriorate in a month or two of prolonged exposure was the paper wrapping used by builders to protect the timber from the elements and act as an additional buffer against moisture.
"Depending on how it has lasted we might require the builders to re-wrap the house, or in some cases re-coat the framing."
Lang's confidence was reflected by David Kelly, the chief executive of the Registered Master Builders Association of New Zealand.
"The common view is that it's not a big deal.
"If it goes on for much longer than four weeks it could create some difficulties, and if it becomes apparent that's what is going to happen we recommend the government get BRANZ [the Building Research Association of New Zealand] and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to come up with some technical guidance for things like timber treatments and the undermining of foundations.
"That way there will be a consistent approach for both builders and consumers."
Stark Property director Matt Stark was also not worried.
"Speaking purely from a development perspective, It's not too much of a concern. We have mitigated all the risks and things that should not have been left out in the weather have not been left out in the weather.
COVID-19: GOVERNMENT CONTRACT GUIDELINES TO SUPPORT INDUSTRY - CONSTRUCTION SECTOR ACCORD UPDATE
We're pleased to share that the government has implemented the first action from the Construction Sector Response Plan and has issued guidance and expectations to agencies on managing contracts during the shutdown.
We expect these directives to provide some support and confidence to those members of the construction industry that work with government.
The government has shown it is committed to work with the industry during this time to help support strong businesses that can rebound after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Ministers are requiring agencies within their portfolios to follow new guidelines that will help ensure cash keeps flowing in the sector to maintain businesses and jobs during the shutdown. The directive is being sent to the chief executives of all agencies engaged in construction and infrastructure projects including ministries, SOEs, DHBs, and tertiary education providers.
The guidance was developed by Accord Steering Group members and focuses on creating a consistent and supportive approach to contracts.
Maintaining cash flow
One of the central points in the guidance is that agencies should continue to make payments to support contractor cash flow during the lockdown, and these should be passed down the supply chain as appropriate. Construction work that can be done off-site should also continue such as procurement, planning and design. Government is allowing flexibility in the procurement rules to encourage swift procurement processes where necessary.
Fair management of contracts
For projects that are stalled due to the shutdown, government is urging agencies to take a fair and consistent approach to contract management. Some agencies have already taken a lead on this including the NZ Transport Agency and Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities - and the Accord has built on their approaches to create government-wide commercial guidelines.
The guidance requires agencies to consider their position at 3 different levels:
1. Contractual - The Government's view is that its regulatory response to COVID-19 has resulted in a 'change in law'. This means that the costs incurred by contractors as a result of the lockdown period will be treated as a variation to the contract. As such, most contractors will be entitled to costs arising from the lockdown period as a contractual right and they should be informed of that right as a matter of priority. There will be some exceptions depending on individual contracts.
2. Business position - Without steady cash-flow, contractors will not have the confidence or financial ability to retain their workforce, which will impact on their ability to deliver under the contract. While discussing contractual entitlements with their suppliers, all agencies must consider what arrangements would support suppliers to retain their workforce.
3. Public value - Finally, agencies should consider whether additional financial relief for contractors who have been affected by COVID-19 is warranted and in the public interest. Where agencies have found additional relief to be warranted, they should raise the need for such relief with MBIE and the Treasury.
These guidelines are well-aligned with Accord principles and the Steering Group is pleased at the government's commitment to providing support to the industry through the fair treatment of contracts. It's expected the government's leadership on this will influence behaviour in the wider sector.
We will continue to update you on further actions and decisions as they made.
He waka eke noa
ALMOST 200 CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS IMPACTED BY COVID-19, NEW REPORT SAYS
About 200 construction projects have been impacted by Covid 19 so far, according to a new report by building research firm Pacifecon.
A Pacifecon report said 163 construction projects planned or tendered had had their start dates postponed.
Another seven planned or tendered projects had been placed on hold, two had been cancelled and 24 projects would have delayed completion.
"Approximately 200 projects, of thousands, are affected so far, but this is climbing daily."
In March, 719 new projects in planning and tendering where reported worth almost $5 billion but that was less than Pacifecon would have expected for March.
Of those two-thirds by value were residential worth $3.2b but only 113 were commercial worth only $315 million. Some 222 civil projects were planned worth $824m.
At the end of March the total amount of construction work in the pipeline was more than $219b.
More than a third of those by value were planned infrastructure works, under a third were non-residental-commercial buildings and a third were residential building projects.
The report was based on projects known to Pacifecon and other publicly available information.
Pacifecon said construction underway would be picked up after the lockdown lifted but completion would take longer than expected when they started in many cases.
After the lockdown civil and infrastructure projects would take priority.
It expected a massive boost of construction starting, particularly of essential work that could lead to shortages of supply with increased demand benefiting local manufactures.
In the second half of 2020 Pacifecon expected the starting of residential and non-essential commercial building projects would slow down.
Residential building consents were likely to reduce over the next six months. More planned projects would be suspended, put on hold or cancelled, the report said.
Pacifecon said developers would be land banking and waiting to see what happened.
Most councils were processing building consents from home during the lockdown while architects were bracing for work to dry up later in the year.
UPDATE ON COVID-19 FOR THE BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
Stay up to date with the latest information about essential services in the building and construction sector.
COVID-19 Alert Level 4 has placed essential business restrictions on the type of work that can be done in the building and construction sector.
MBIE are regularly updating building.govt.nz to provide the latest information to the sector, as the COVID-19 situation changes. We encourage you to check this website regularly to make sure you're up to date with what work can and can't be completed during this time.
At building.govt.nz you can check the definition for essential businesses in the Building and Construction sector. Many of you will need to make decisions about the work you do and what is deemed essential and non-essential work. Information and examples are available to help you identify what work meets the essential business criteria.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. We apologise if we don't get back to you straight away, but will be in touch as soon as we can.
Be strong and be kind.
The Building Performance team
ACRS RESPONDS TO THE NEED FOR CONTINUING ASSURANCE TO STEEL USERS IN DIFFICULT TIMES
With the effects on global business from the current COVID-19 emergency, ACRS recognises the increasing risk of supply of nonconforming steel where disruption to established supply chains creates the potential for procurement from alternate, unverified sources.
The ACRS scheme is continuing its operation uninterrupted and ACRS certificates continue to be valid, providing continuing assurance to users of steel conformity.
However, as a result of COVID-19, and in consideration of government advice regarding the health and wellbeing of our staff, contractors, and certified organisations; ACRS will be postponing, cancelling, or making alternate arrangements for a number of (but not all) assessments.
For those certificate holders affected, ACRS is developing processes and practices for the temporary substitution of our normal site assessment practice by remote assessments plus additional market testing, where such an approach is necessary and feasible. We will be in touch with the affected certificate holders to provide details on the above. This will be prioritised for sites with assessments due in the next few months.
For certificate users, including specifiers, purchasers and users, we are developing processes and procedures to ensure the effectiveness of the ACRS scheme and assurance to certificate users is maintained throughout the current crisis to ensure continued confidence in steel supply.
A communique on the measures to be adopted will be sent out soon. We thank you for your patience and understanding.
INFORMATION FOR BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION RETAILERS AND SUPPLY CHAIN - COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 4
26 March 2020
On 24 March, Cabinet decided that Bunnings, Placemakers, Mitre 10 and other retailers essential to the supply chain for building and construction can stay open to trade customers for essential purposes only. information has been prepared to help you understand what this may mean for you and your business, which can be found on the building.govt.nz website.
COVID-19 UPDATE FOR BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
25 March 2020
The Prime Minister has announced New Zealand is now at COVID-19 Alert Level 3, moving to Alert Level 4 from 11.59 pm on Wednesday 25 March for a period of four weeks.
This means New Zealanders not working in essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of your household.
We understand this is a very unsettling time for everyone, and appreciate you will have questions and concerns about what this means for you and the building and construction sector.
*Please be assured that the Accord Steering Group (ASG) is working closely with the Government and relevant agencies to advise on the support and information needed across the Construction Sector.*
On Monday, the ASG met with Minister Salesa to discuss the situation and inform the action needed from Government to support the industry during this uncertain time. We will keep you updated as the ASG and Government work together to help the sector through this period.
Some initial information has been created for those in the building and construction sector (as at 24 March). This is a very fast-moving situation with information being updated regularly. Please visit https://www.building.govt.nz/covid-19/
Please visit covid.govt.nz for all information relating to COVID-19. This website is being updated regularly with information from a range of agencies to help you find the latest information and to help answer your questions.
• What are essential businesses, please visit https://covid19.govt.nz/government-a…/covid-19-alert-level/…
•Financial support during this time, please visit https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actio…/financial-support/
•Advice for businesses, organisations and employees, please visit https://covid19.govt.nz/h…/for-businesses-and-organisations/
Please see below some information about essential businesses for building and construction.
If you have any questions that are not answered or would like to know more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. This will help inform the further advice and guidance provided on covid.govt.nz for our sector.
What are essential businesses for Building and Construction?
The below is from the covid.govt.nz website (as at 24 March):
Building and construction
Lead agency: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
• Any entity involved in building and construction related to essential services and critical infrastructure
• Any entity involved in building and construction required immediately to maintain human health and safety at home or work
• Any entity that performs or is involved in building and resource consenting necessary for the above purposes
ESSENTIAL BUSINESS IN THE BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
24 March 2020
Information about essential business for the building and construction sector (as at 24 March) is now available on the building.govt.nz website.
This is a very fast-moving situation with information being updated regularly. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.
This is a very challenging time but we will get through this, if we stick together.
Be strong and be kind.
Coping with stress during the Covid-19 outbreak