BUILDING STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS
In 1932, largely through the efforts of the New Zealand Institution of Engineers, the New Zealand Standards Institution was founded, and in May 1934 the Building Code Committee was constituted by the General Council of the Standards Institution for the purpose of preparing Standard Model Building Bylaws for New Zealand. The object of the Building Code Committee was to produce a building code applicable to the special conditions of New Zealand in the form of a Model Building Bylaw, but sufficiently flexible to permit of the future introduction of approved innovations in materials and methods of construction. If, however, full advantage were to be taken of scientific and technical progress, the code or bylaw would require periodical review and revision. The first Model Building Bylaw was published in December 1935, and has been revised from time to time, the last complete revision being in 1955. A current revision is nearing completion.
In 1936 the Standards Institution was superseded by the Standards Institute, a branch of the Government. Among its many activities in the field of standardisation of commodities, processes, and practices, this institution sets up committees, on instructions from the Standards Council, to initiate new parts or revise the existing building bylaws. These are voluntary committees whose members are representatives of interested organisations such as the New Zealand Institute of Architects, the New Zealand Institution of Engineers, the Municipal Association, and the like. These representatives are selected for their specialised knowledge. At present the Building Bylaw Committee deals with the general layout of the bylaws, definitions, interpretations, and building permits; that on Steel Construction with Residential Buildings, Foundations and Substructures, Chimneys and External Walling Committees; the Loadings Committee with the basic loads to be used in design; and the Fire Protection Committee with fire-resisting construction and means of egress. Moreover, the Fire Rating Committee provides a list of fire-resisting ratings of materials and construction, and the Water Retaining Structures Committee deals with the design of concrete structures for the storage of liquids. The latest Committee to be set up is the Farm Buildings Committee which deals specifically with the design and construction of farm buildings as opposed to that of residential buildings. Finally, there is the Building Bylaw Sectional Committee which coordinates the work of all the Building Bylaw Committees and forwards their recommendations to the Standards Council.
The Model Building Bylaw is not a mandatory document but is published as being suitable for adoption by local authorities as their bylaw, and not until it is adopted by a local authority does it become legally valid. A recent survey has shown that, of the 108 cities and boroughs in New Zealand with a population in excess of 2,000, the model building bylaw has been adopted by 96, either in toto or with amendments, while four others have intimated their intention of adopting it. Many, if not all, of the local authorities which have not formally adopted the model building bylaw use it as a guide. In the absence of such model bylaws, each local authority would have to form its own. This would entail a considerable amount of work which would have to be done by each local authority through its own resources, with the addition of all the legal expenses involved. But the adoption of the model building bylaw goes further than the saving of administrative and legal expenses by a local authority. The standardisation of provisions regarding building construction leads to an acceptance of basic dimensions, types, and qualities of materials, with possibilities for savings both through large-scale production methods and through quality.
by Jack Ian King, F.R.I.B.A., A.M.I.ST.ENG.(LOND.), Chairman, New Zealand Standards Institute, Wellington.