Common Compliance Issues

Non-compliant locks installed on final exits 

Certain types of locks should not be installed on final exits and doors on escape paths as they could prevent occupants from escaping in the event of emergency. These are examples of locks that should not be installed. 

certain lock types are a compliance issue

Penetrations through fire and smoke separations

Unsealed penetrations through fire and smoke separations allow fire and smoke to spread. 

All penetrations through fire and smoke separations are required to be sealed using approved materials. Evidence of compliance with the NZ Building Code (C/AS2 – 7) for any fire-stopping system is required.

Stored items 

Do not store items in stairwells, escapes paths, locations that obstruct occupants using an exit door, or close to sprinkler heads. Stored items can prevent the sprinkler head from operating effectively in the event of fire. 

unsealed penetrations are a compliance issue
Example of unsealed penetrations

Non-consented access-controlled door systems 

Access-controlled door systems are considered a specified system under the Building Act 2004. Therefore, a Building Consent is required to install, modify, or remove these systems. If you are unsure whether the system you are installing requires a building consent, consult your local Building Consent Authority. 

Paint on sprinkler heads 

When painting around sprinkler heads ensure the correct covers are obtained from a fire company to avoid paint splatter coming into contact with the sprinkler head. 

Paint splatter can affect the operation of the sprinkler head requiring it to be replaced which can be costly if numerous sprinkler heads are affected.

Importance of owner’s inspections and record-keeping 

The Building Act 2004 requires all inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures of the Compliance Schedule have been fully complied with for the previous 12 months for a Building Warrant of Fitness to be issued.

This includes owners’ inspections — just one missed inspection could result in your site not being able to display a BWOF. It is crucial all inspections are carried out and recorded. 

In the event the local Territorial Authority carries out a site audit and finds incomplete records for specified systems listed on the site compliance schedule, a ‘Notice to Fix’ may be issued for the site. This requires action from the owner to avoid an infringement fee. 

Blinds and curtains 

When hanging curtains or blinds on fire exit doors it is important to ensure that fire alarm activation devices, call points, exit signage, and means of opening the door (push bar, handle etc.) are visible at all times to enable occupants a swift exit from the building in case of an emergency. 

Ensure that the curtain or blind fits on the door itself, allows the door hardware to be visible, and does not pose an obstruction, such as a tripping hazard or flammable material. 

Blinds and curtains that have been installed on fire exit doors as part of a lockdown procedure must also be fire resistant and follow the fire safety regulations. 

curtains in front of fire exits are a compliance issue

Using wedges to hold open fire and smoke doors 

Fire and smoke doors that are not interfaced with the fire alarm should be kept shut at all times. This prevents the spread of smoke and fire in the event of a fire. 

Fire and smoke doors have signage installed stating please keep closed, directions need to be followed. 

Further information about building compliance

If you require any further information regarding any of these or other Building Compliance issues, please contact Argest.

Argest Compliance & Fire Inspection Services at Alert Level 4 Covid-19

Argest is here to support you during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though our offices are not accessible, the Argest team is set up to work remotely and safely from their homes and are contactable in the normal way by phone and email.

We are actively monitoring all updates and directions from the Government, MBIE and industry associations relating to on-site compliance services, as well as managing communication with Councils on your behalf. We will focus on your compliance over this time and allow you to focus on your business, staff and personal wellbeing. 

Site Inspections and Testing

There are a number of important changes and limitations to IQP and fire sprinkler inspections and testing which will impact your building. For the most part, all planned inspections and testing will be suspended until the Aert Level decreases and sites are allowed to be accessed.

If you are providing Essential Services, or your buildings are occupied or being used for Essential Services, your Contracts Manager will be able to assist you on the services you will need to support your staff and occupants of your buildings.

You are able to request Argest to provide or arrange certain services that directly assist in maintaining a safe and healthy environment for your staff, occupants and users or your buildings. The range of those services is being reviewed on a regular basis and we will update you if these changes will apply to your building.

If you do require on-site services, then we will work with you to complete all the necessary confirmations, approvals, site access and health and safety procedures that will need to be followed for any site work.

For most commercial buildings during Alert Level 4 all inspections and testing will be suspended.

Managing your Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF)

We appreciate the suspension of inspections and testing will impact the ability to meet the requirements for the issue our your BWOF and some may even fall overdue over the lockdown period. Based on the updates from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Territorial Authorities (Councils), deferment of the issue of BWOF’s is the preferred option, with annual inspections, preventative maintenance and testing to be rescheduled when site access is allowed. Once these are done, and any repairs deemed necessary for compliance are completed, the BWOF will be issued for your building as soon as practicable. An allowance will be made for missed monthly inspections or testing unable to be carried out during Alert Level 4.

Things you can do for the Health and Safety of your staff, occupants or users of your building during Alert Level 4

If you do have staff in buildings being used for essential services, especially where they’re being accessed by the public or emergency services workers, assign a responsible person to carry out checks that can be done maintaining a safe distance.

  • Your emergency exits continue to be well signed and clear of any obstructions
  • Information and safety signs for your fire alarms, auto-doors, disabled access, lifts are still in place
  • Your fire alarm/fire sprinkler panels (if your building has one) are indicating “Normal”

If your building is residential, then any such checks should be completed by someone who resides in that building, but not in a way that compromises or requires entry into another’s “bubble” like an individual apartment. Checks should be limited to public areas, and only completed if it is possible to maintain a 2-metre gap, taking precautions like washing hands before and after the checks, and of course not completed by anyone who is ill or is required to self isolate themselves due to having or being in contact with people with Covid-19.

What will happen as we exit Alert Level 4

We are already preparing for what inspections and preventative maintenance services your building will need once New Zealand is able to exit Threat Level 4, as well as the process to get any impacted or delayed Building Warrant of Fitness’s issued as quickly as possible. We will be working with each Council to ensure any delayed or overdue BWOF is managed and that we comply with any specific processes that are put in place.

Who to contact

Please continue to contact your Argest Contracts Manager, as usual, using email or by phone or via 0800 ARGEST (0800 274 378)

We would like to thank you for continuing to use Argest for your compliance services during this challenging time, and wish you and your teams all the very best to stay safe and well. 

Now is the ideal time to review your building compliance plan for 2019

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to check you are up to date with the building compliance obligations for your property portfolio – and plan for the 2019 year.

Check your Building Compliance is up to date with this simple checklist

First, confirm that:

  • Your BWOF for each building is displayed, and current
  • Your Inspection Logs and Manual  are up to date and filed for easy access and updating
  • You have forms ready in your log book, or manual, for you and your IQP’s to record the inspections for the year ahead
  • You have a schedule for the Owner’s Inspections you will be carrying out and have added these dates to your calendar or diary
  • Any new installations have the necessary consents, and details of the new systems have been provided to Argest to get your Compliance Schedules up to date
  • Your maintenance and service contracts for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Units, Lifts, and other Specified Systems that have this as a requirement under the Building Act, are in place
  • Maintenance checks are being done on Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Units, Lifts, and other Specified Systems that have this as a requirement under the Building Act.

Cost implications of Building Compliance

When planning for your Building Compliance, you will need to consider the following in your budget for the 2019 year:

  • Your budgeted expenses will cover the likely increases in Council fees and charges for compliance services. You can check with your local council or Argest for information on your area
  • Ensure you have contingencies for council audits – both for time available, and remediation funding – as audits are increasing in frequency and depth of review.
  • Argest can provide a consulting service to assist you manage the audit process and council negotiation if required.

Finally, if you have new staff that will be completing Owner’s Inspections, or looking after your Building Compliance processes, make sure they have been trained on how to carry out and record inspections properly.  Argest can provide training on what is required under the Building Act to you, and your new staff.

If you need any help or advice on your Building Compliance, Argest is here to help

Please contact us on 0800 ARGEST or online now.

Minimal compliance on quake standards

By Phil Pennington for Radio NZ.

Fewer than 34 multi-storey New Zealand buildings have fully complied with earthquake restraints standards since they were introduced in 1983, including in the Christchurch rebuild, says Restraints specialist Terry Johnson, of Masterton.

Johnson consulted on the Christchurch justice precinct project and said as far as he knew only two of the buildings in the whole rebuild were up to the NZS4219 restraints standard.

Ceilings and services – pipes, ducts, heavy air-conditioning units and the like – were heavily damaged in the Christchurch 2011 and Wellington 2013 and 2016 earthquakes, such as at the BNZ Harbour Quays and Statistics New Zealand quayside buildings.

Typically, such damage accounts for up 70 percent of the cost of repairs after a quake.

Read the full Radio NZ article.

Image is BNZ corporate office, Pipitea, Wellington. Photo: Screenshot / GoogleMaps